The Somnambulist (ARC)
2 journalers for this copy...
A fabulous first novel about a stage magician trying to stop a sorcerous uprising in turn-of-the-century London, in the vein of bestselling works by Susanna Clarke and Neil Gaiman.
The Somnambulist follows the extraordinary tale of Edward Moon, stage magician and detective, and his silent sidekick the Somnambulist. A bizarre series of murders unsettles turn-of-the-century London, but as Moon begins to investigate, he realizes it is only the beginning: nourished by blood and poetry, an eerie uprising grows among the very roots of the city.
With a gallery of vividly grotesque characters, a richly evoked setting and a highly literary and playful style, this is an amazingly addictive, brilliant debut novel from an author with a great voice and huge potential.
I received this as an Advance Readers Edition from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Group, and unlike most ARCs, this one was actually a velobound manuscript copy with full-size 8.5" x 11" pages. It was a bit unwieldy to handle, especially trying to read in bed, but the story was good enough to keep me wanting to read on despite the uncomfortable binding format. I also found my copy was missing page 71. But because it was the first page of a new chapter, and a new section started at the top of the following page, I couldn't figure out anything important that was missing, so perhaps it was intentional. And finally, I found it odd that the date at the bottom of the pages was 6/28/07. Since this was first published in the UK in Feburary of 2007, and later in the US in Feburary of 2008, I was left wondering if I might actually have a copy of the UK manuscript, and wondering if there might be a slight difference in language and localisms between the two.
Now enough about the format and on to the story itself. It's told from the point-of-view of an outside party, one who's observing the events from the outside. Because of this, the reader doesn't get a lot of deep insight into each character's feelings and thoughts. In a way, this makes the story seem a bit cold and distant, which may in fact be the intended result. But an unfortunate side effect was that I had a more difficult time remembering some of the more personal facts about each of the characters. I felt I didn't know them as well since the author didn't really allow us to see inside their heads. *shrug* By the end of the book however, it became a bit more obvious why it was written that way, and who the person is who's telling the story. But I found it a bit disconcerting at the first in any case.
Because of my few complaints above, I couldn't give this book a perfect score. However, I really enjoyed the action, the mystery, the dark horror, and the whole wackiness of it, which made for a very enjoyable story overall. And thus, despite its few shortcomings, a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to others.
I think I'll RABCK this to one of the other US participants who expressed an interest in it during the swap.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Sending this to ccheesygiraffe as one of 2 books for the BookObsessed April Fools Day Sweeps, the other being The Scot, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair, which I'm afraid she may have since acquired by now since it's no longer on her wish list but was initially.
Mailed on 8/18/08 via Media Mail with Delivery Confirmation # 9102 8052 1390 7620 9753 87. Total of 5 books included in package: 3 from swaps, 2 from BookObsessed April Fools Sweeps.
Wow! I sure do want to read this but I've never seen an ARC look like a very rough copy before. It's readable so I don't care. *hugs*