Customer Reviews for

The Somnambulist

Average Rating 3.5
( 32 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Tell us more...or less!

Jonathan Barnes does a wonderful job with the characters of Moon and the mute Somnambulist. I found this a very difficult book to put down. Unfortunately, the last few chapters really stretch the imagination a bit far. It was just a bit too 'science fiction!' What w...
Jonathan Barnes does a wonderful job with the characters of Moon and the mute Somnambulist. I found this a very difficult book to put down. Unfortunately, the last few chapters really stretch the imagination a bit far. It was just a bit too 'science fiction!' What we should see in any future Moon tales would be the prequels that would involve the cases so often referred to in this book...particularly the Clapham case! Write on, Mr. Barnes, write on!

posted by Anonymous on April 15, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The Somnambulist

This was quite a curious little book. I would like to start by saying that the narrative style Barnes uses is really enjoyable. He definitely evokes that sense of Victorian mystery and quirky humor. The story was really good and would have made for a great novel except ...
This was quite a curious little book. I would like to start by saying that the narrative style Barnes uses is really enjoyable. He definitely evokes that sense of Victorian mystery and quirky humor. The story was really good and would have made for a great novel except for a few shortcomings that really brought the book as a whole down. First: The characters. By the end the reader feels as though they have a better understanding of the supporting cast than they do the major characters. Edward Moon is supposed to be a vain and self-absorbed man, but the only times this truly shows is when someone flat out says so. He felt weak and I never saw any of the keen intellect that was supposed to make him such a great detective. Second: There are some things the author never explains that he really should have. Being enigmatic is one thing, but I got the sense that whenever he couldn't get the explanation of something to work within the context of the story, he simply left it out. Last: Barnes does a phenomenal job of building a real sense of tension throughout the novel. Readers will find themselves frequently attempting to unravel what this looming threat, this conspiracy behind everything, is. When we find out we are in for the let downs of let downs. I almost wonder if Barnes just stopped caring by the end of the book.

posted by Janus on December 13, 2009

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Somnambulist

    This was quite a curious little book. I would like to start by saying that the narrative style Barnes uses is really enjoyable. He definitely evokes that sense of Victorian mystery and quirky humor. The story was really good and would have made for a great novel except for a few shortcomings that really brought the book as a whole down. First: The characters. By the end the reader feels as though they have a better understanding of the supporting cast than they do the major characters. Edward Moon is supposed to be a vain and self-absorbed man, but the only times this truly shows is when someone flat out says so. He felt weak and I never saw any of the keen intellect that was supposed to make him such a great detective. Second: There are some things the author never explains that he really should have. Being enigmatic is one thing, but I got the sense that whenever he couldn't get the explanation of something to work within the context of the story, he simply left it out. Last: Barnes does a phenomenal job of building a real sense of tension throughout the novel. Readers will find themselves frequently attempting to unravel what this looming threat, this conspiracy behind everything, is. When we find out we are in for the let downs of let downs. I almost wonder if Barnes just stopped caring by the end of the book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 3, 2010

    Macabre Fantasy

    If Jonathan Barnes is a good writer, he wasted his time on this tale. It is filled ad nauseum with what appears to be his forte of creating misshapen, repugnant characters that he uses badly. He has some good characters; but without much in the way of individual feelings. Even his characters have an aversion to each other. Do not read this book if you want to derive pleasure from characters and ideas you have met in your reading. This is not a keeper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2008

    Imaginative Wording, Difficult Plot

    I am torn when it comes to this book. Although the writing style Barnes' chooses captivated me, the essence of the book does not. At best I could read three chapters before having to put it down. However, the premise of the book is so outlandish that it sucked me back in. I would recommend it if only for the sole purpose of expanding your vocabulary, but also to make yourself suspend belief and catapult you to a different time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Tell us more...or less!

    Jonathan Barnes does a wonderful job with the characters of Moon and the mute Somnambulist. I found this a very difficult book to put down. Unfortunately, the last few chapters really stretch the imagination a bit far. It was just a bit too 'science fiction!' What we should see in any future Moon tales would be the prequels that would involve the cases so often referred to in this book...particularly the Clapham case! Write on, Mr. Barnes, write on!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2007

    Part supernatural thriller, part carnival sideshow

    Enjoyable and engaging, with interesting characters and a bizarre, sprawling plot that should attract any fan of the strange and mysterious. Towards the end, it does degenerate a bit into pure senseless oddity, but overall, I look forward to the next offering from Jonathan Barnes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Are you kidding me?!

    I was really interested in reading this book simply because it stood out from the predictable picks out there. I now have a better appreciation for the predictable picks out there. The characters are ludicrous and the storyline is worse. I read it to the end waiting for redemption only to find none.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    A waste of time

    I love Victorian literature but this was the worst book I've read in recent memory. I skimmed through the last half. Boring, no interesting characters or plot. I actually threw the book in the trash.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wake Me When It's Over

    Let me make it perfectly clear, this is not a book you should approach lightly. It is a puzzling mixture of mystery, suspense, a touch of Victorian horror story mixed in a jumble of parts. At first it seems that all these qualities might make an exceedingly good tale, but alas it does not. The author tells the story of Edward Moon, magician and part time detective and his companion, the Somnambulist, who together are called upon to solve a series of murders and in so doing save London from destruction. The author tries to pay homage to past writers and their creations ranging from Sherlock Holmes to Frankenstein. I felt the author was being a bit too cute with the reader, going so far as to tell us that he would at times lie and mislead the reader, which he does.

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  • Posted March 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Just so-so

    I had very high expectations for this book, but was very disappointed. While the novel was atmospheric, the plot seemed to go nowhere. Some characters were interesting, but halfway through I found myself losing who's who, and eventually not caring.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    Amusing

    I read the first chapter in the Book Store and was so ammused I had to buy it. Finished it the next day. This is a fun and whacky book which I highly recommend. I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Dominoe Men.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Mysterious and intriguing

    Jonathan Barnes' The Somnambulist is a well written novel. The reader is swept through London following the trail of gritty murders, sneaky officials, religious cults, and a suave magician. Although easy to read, The Somnambulist loses part of its momentum towards the end of the book feeling rather rushed. Overall, Barnes has a particularly smooth writing style and you will not find yourself re-reading previous chapters to remember small details. I would recommend reading if you are enchanted by magicians, time-travel, twisted plots, and a somnambulist.

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  • Posted November 13, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Unique Story is Highly Entertaining!

    This is one of the strangest yarns I've come across, and very hard to put down. It's set in London in the early 1900s and involves a wild conspiracy by an off-the-wall group who wants to take over the city. Into this mess stumbles Edward Moon, a washed-up magician with a giant of a partner who has the peculiar ability to be pierced with swords without bleeding. Edward has been involved in police cases in the past, the latest of which was a disaster, though we are left tantalizingly short of details on this. Perhaps in Mr. Barnes's next book? In any case, by the end of the book we have met a truly weird assortment of characters. Along with all this are the further components of science fiction and a touch of the supernatural. Often outlandish, always entertaining....I look forward to the author's next novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2008

    An awesome read- Start to Finish

    I really enjoyed this book. It starts off wonderfuly and ends in a bizarre, macabre sci-fi feast. Jonathan Barnes is a gifted author. He draws you in and leaves you wanting more. I only hope someday we get to know more of Moon's past. I can't recommend this novel enough!!!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a strange nineteenth century thriller

    In Victorian England, conjurer Edward Moon turned to detecting to earn a living as his stage performances are not in demand. With his enigmatic weird associate the eight foot mute Somnambulist, Moon has solved some of London¿s most infamous homicides. Although very successful and obtaining fame and more important clients, he still would prefer to perform his act in a theatre not at a crime scene and considers retiring from the sleuthing stage.-------- However, he and the Somnambulist are investigating the murders of two wealthy nonentities who made fortunes in business. Clues lead to a religious group that apparently wants to take over secular London by eradicating the affluent upper middle class whose crass worldly ways are an abomination to God and humanity. ------ THE SOMNAMBULIST is a strange nineteenth century thriller that will have the audience debating whether it is paranormal horror, mystery, or both. The story line is not linear as Jonathan Barnes refuses to allow his fans to just comfortably go along for the ride. The support cast starting with the hero¿s assistant and running the gamut of eeriness add to the feel that more twists will follow especially the final one. Mr. Barnes proves to be a worth conjurer from his opening critique to the final stunner.------ Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 12, 2009

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    Posted October 14, 2009

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    Posted October 27, 2008

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    Posted January 19, 2011

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    Posted March 4, 2009

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    Posted February 3, 2009

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