Ann Schwader's Reviews > The Somnambulist

The Somnambulist by Essie Fox
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's review
Jul 13, 12

bookshelves: mystery, general-fiction
Read from June 14 to July 12, 2012

This is very much a book one has to be in the mood for -- and I was, thus four stars rather than three. If you're looking for Gothic Victorian atmosphere, detailed research deployed well, & remarkably twisty plotting, you'll probably enjoy The Somnambulist. If, however, you have a problem with the time-honored device of a young woman in a creepy country house with Something Odd Going On, you'd do better to stay away.

The best way I can describe this novel is Victorian Beach Read -- or rainy summer afternoon read, perhaps. It's got a lighter feel to it than, say, Wuthering Heights, but it seems aimed at a similar reading experience. Several shifts from the heroine's first-person voice to another important character's POV in third person did not work well for me, but the plotting was so interesting that I kept following along. Also, despite this quibble, I never stopped caring about Fox's characters or the very detailed late-Victorian world they inhabit.

I'm reluctant to offer any plot details -- too much chance of a spoiler! -- but I would definitely recommend that readers also check out the detailed Author's Note and the Conversation With Essie Fox section at the back of the book. Ms. Fox explains exactly what is & is not fiction in her novel, which I found to be fascinating.


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