The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes

The narrator begins by telling us to put down this book. "Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. Needless to say, I doubt you'll believe a word of it." Strange how when someone tells you not to do something, you want to do it even more. Of course, I kept reading.

Edward Moon is a singularly arresting character, a formerly affluent member of Victorian English society, and an intriguing master of illusion and mind reading. His partner on the stage is known simply as The Somnambulist. The Somnambulist never speaks, and communicates only through hand-written messages on a slate he carries with him. Perhaps the singular most spectacular feat the two exhibit involves the Somnambulist being pierced with several long swords, every night, but exhibiting no wounds or signs of distress.

Another of Moon's endeavors is like that of Sherlock Holmes, a bit of an amateur detective consulted by Scotland Yard for especially baffling cases. The latest bit of bother involves a mysterious murder. At first glance, it seems ordinary...and then, another murder followed by the disappearance of both murdered men's mothers?

The Directorate, an underground government organization dedicated to preventing threats to Queen and country, may not always use scrupulous means to get what they want. They blackmail Moon into service, and take him to see a psychic...who may actually not be a total fake. The scariest part? She's predicting the end of the 10 days.

As Moon and the Somnambulist begin to uncover more and more of this deep plot, more colorful characters are introduced, including Barrabas. Barrabas, also known as The Fiend, is a gluttonous prisoner, obsessed with beautiful trinkets. His previous association with Moon is hinted at, and it's believed that Barrabas may know more than he lets on.

As the foretold day approaches, events start to spin out of control. Will they be able to uncover who's behind it all, and stop them before they bring down the entire city? A fantastic steampunk Victorian murder mystery that crosses over for teens rather nicely. There is quite a bit of grisly subject matter, so recommended for older teens.
"Moon allowed himself a private, faintly malicious smile at their departure before flinging wide his arms. 'Applause,' he cried, 'for the city's most remarkable man! Asleep! Awake! The celebrated sleepwalker of Albion Square! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...the Somnambulist!'" (Barnes pg. 23, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl

Barnes, Jonathan. (2007). The Somnambulist. New York, NY: William Morrow.

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