“The Somnambulist” by Jonathan Barnes (William Morrow, 2008)


Welcome to a Victorian England where a little bit of magic still exists, as well as some possible time traveling, and some of the strangest and most unusual characters you’ll ever meet.  There is the title character, the Somnambulist as he is known: an outlandishly tall giant who never says a word and is a strange looking creature who attracts the interest and eyes of everyone he passes, and has an addiction to milk; as a matter of fact milk appears to be the only thing he ever consumes.  He also possesses a unique condition whereby he can be stabbed and skewered by any object through any part of his body, any number of times, and not suffer any pain, blood loss, or apparent harm.  He is a science-defying freak who is never thoroughly explored in the book.  Then there is Edward Moon, the other member of the magic duo, who has a penchant for sleeping with freakish looking women with the more disfigurements the better; the bearded girl is his favorite!  Moon fancies himself a skilled detective with a successful history except for one case that went terribly wrong.  Alas, this is also not fully explained in The Somnambulist.  The story begins with the bizarre death of an actor and builds to a complicated and stupefying conclusion that will leave the reader trying to wrap his or her mind around it.

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Originally written on February 21st 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Sacramento Book Review.