So, after the dreaful and painstaking process it was making it through Mister B. Gone, it was with a sigh of relief that I picked up Jonathan Barnes’ first book, The Somnambulist. The link between Barker’s drivel and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder was principle characters unfit for normal society. The line between Barker’s book and Barne’s is a theme of murder, and somewhat unconventional characters.
Let me be clear: I hated Mister B. Gone but so far and really enjoying The Somnambulist. I really like the seedy London setting and the characters are intriguing to me. I’ve always liked stories dealing with magicians, a la Houdini. For me they hold a kind of majesty, hearkening back, if you will to a somewhat simpler time, when belief in the unbelievable was possible and imagination was encouraged. Edward Moon and his sidekick, the enigmatic Somnambulist are fascinating. I really appreciate the fact that while Moon is a pretty decent guy, kind of your standard good guy, Barnes immediately gives him a bizarre vice – atypical prostitutes. For example, he’s particularly fond of a bearded woman with an extra arm, underdeveloped, and protruding from between her breasts. Like I said, atypical.
Like the previous novel, this one reads fairly fast. Unlike the previous novel, I’m excited and disappointed by that because I like the characters, the setting and the story, which, on page 60 is just beginning to unfold. So far it is exciting and just a fun read. Nothing too profound or particularly “literary,” just good, clean fun.