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The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
The Somnambulist of this novel's title is an eight-foot hairless man who is mute, and apparently neither bleeds nor suffers injury when stabbed by swords. He's the companion to Edward Moon, a 19th-century conjurer and amateur detective whose fame and career are flagging. The London they inhabit is shared by every Victorian oddity imaginable; some are terribly ugly, others incredibly fat, albinos, a time traveler, circus freaks and other deformed humans, and a brothel that caters to unique, if not, disgusting tastes. Moon is asked by the police to help with a pair of murders, and in hopes of restoring his fame, he agrees. What he and the Somnambulist uncover, though, is a conspiracy by utopians to destroy the city and rebuild it in their own vision. Jonathan Barnes's debut novel has received positive reviews with the Washington Post saying, "There is much that is strange, magical and darkly hilarious in this book, at least if one savors the sardonic and the bizarre. At various points it recalls Dickens, Alice in Wonderland and Frankenstein, but it remains an original and monumentally inventive piece of work by a writer still in his 20s."