"Disco" Dave Sproat's Reviews > The Somnambulist

The Somnambulist by Jonathan  Barnes
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Jul 03, 12

bookshelves: fantasy
read count: 1

"Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever."

I could not have put it better myself,

Alright, perhaps that is a bit of an extreme statement, but to believe it would not be a stretch to far for the imagination. When browsing the book shop i would have been well advised to follow the old adage "Don't judge a book by it's cover." But alas i was taken in by the fancy cover and, all too familiar critical recommendation on the reverse.

Before i come to the reason i ended up disliking the book so much i will give credit where it is due. I felt that Barnes did a decent job of creating a satisfying atmosphere of old victorian London. The discriptions of locations infused a thick smoggy picture into my mind that fitted the mood of the book well, and in some ways the city itself became the better of the books "neither here nor there" characters. (Here comes the criticism)

In particular "The Sleeper" is left largely undeveloped, despite frequent passages concerning him, which all end up reiterating the same thing (he sleeps a lot and is going to wake up and start some s**t.) To me this fails to give life to a character that according to the story, is an individual of great significance, and by the time comes in the tale for "The Sleeper" to wake up and have his moment in the spotlight, I unfortunately had drifted off.

Normally i try to give an authors debut novel the benefit of the doubt, as sometimes they are still finding their feet. Nor would i generally condem a book based on one or two flaws which can be overlooked in the grand scheme of the story, however, for the sake of clarity on why i gave this book such a poor rating, i will lay may cards on the table.

I cannot stand a book with a poor ending, and as far as they go, this is one of the worst I've ever encountered. The finale of the book was lack luster the say the least, as though, by the final chapters, the author had ran out of the creative steam that had kept me contently turning the previous 200 or so pages. It felt rushed, as though Barnes had lost interest in his own work or his grant form the publisher had ran out and he needed something to hand in before recieving an advance, i don't know the reason, but whatever it was I ended up being thoroughly ticked off that i had invested as much time as i did reading.

The early story had the potential to be quite thrilling but whatever reason the ending just was not there. All in all, i would not recommend this book, and to anyone considering the purchase i say "put this down and pick up one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels" The money will be better spent.
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