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The Domino Menby Jonathan Barnes
"The premise of Jonathan Barnes's frenetic, uneven, sometimes bleak Domino Men, a sequel to his first novel, The Somnambulist, sounds like a combination of spy novel and Lovecraft pastiche: From 1857 to the present day, the mysterious Directorate and the English monarchy's House of Windsor have waged a secret war against each other because of a pact between Queen Victoria and a supernatural monster known as Leviathan. Long ago, the queen accepted Leviathan's offer to 'guide us, keep us, protect us [and] render us inviolate against invasion.' In return, the queen promised to eventually hand over London to the monster." Jeff VanderMeer, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
Synopses & Reviews
In an earlier century, Queen Victoria made a Faustian bargain, signing London and all its souls away to a nefarious, inhuman entity. Now, generations later, the bill has finally come due...
Jonathan Barnes caused a considerable splash in the literary pool when he dove in with his head-spinning debut, The Somnambulist, a novel of the truly odd and exceptional that the Washington Post called "strange, magical, and darkly hilarious...an original and monumental piece of work" and Denver's Rocky Mountain News dubbed "the best fantasy novel of the year." In his second endeavor, the acclaimed author returns us to a strikingly similar world — albeit at a different time — ushering fortunate readers into his latest breathtaking cabinet of curiosities.
Henry Lamb, an amiable and anonymous file clerk, pushes paper in the Storage and Record Retrieval section of the Civil Service Archive Unit. His life has always been quiet and unremarkable — until the day he learns that he's expected to assume the covert responsibilities of his universally despised grandfather, now lying comatose in the hospital.
Summoned to the gargantuan Ferris wheel known as the London Eye, Henry receives his orders from Dedlock, a gilled and wrinkled old gentleman eternally floating in a pool of amniotic fluid. London, it seems, is at war, resisting an apocalyptic fate foisted upon it by a long-dead queen. A shadowy organisation known (to very few) as the Directorate wishes to recruit Henry to the cause. All he has to do is find "the girl" and save the world from the monster Leviathan, who can already taste the succulent metropolis that will soon be his to devour. Simple enough.
But there are formidable enemies lining up to oppose Henry, all gathering in and around the royal family. His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Arthur Aelfric Vortigern Windsor — the sniveling, overbored, underappreciated sole heir to the British throne — has been shaken from his resentful malaise by grisly, seductive visions of unrestrained power...and by an extremely potent narcotic called ampersand. And an unspeakable evil lurks in the cellar of 10 Downing Street: the twin, serial-slaying schoolboy nightmares, the Domino Men — so-called for their hideous desire and terrifying ability to topple every towering edifice in the city, one after the other...just for a giggle.
"Barnes's second novel, a compelling supernatural thriller, shows his impressive debut, The Somnambulist (2008), was no fluke. Shadowy figures working for a covert government agency called the Directorate inform Henry Lamb, a clerk with London's civil service archive unit, that his grandfather, recently felled by a stroke, was once a major player in their secret war against the House of Windsor. In 1857, Queen Victoria promised the souls of the people of London to a monstrous Lovecraftian entity known as the Leviathan. Now the bill is due. Since Lamb's grandfather held the secret to the whereabouts of a woman named Estella, who's critical to containing the Leviathan, the members of the Directorate regard Lamb as their best hope for locating Estella. Thanks to Barnes's evocative prose, readers will easily suspend disbelief. Those who enjoy the grafting of fantasy elements onto contemporary urban landscapes will be more than satisfied." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Macabre wit and stylistic panache. Parliament should immediately pass a law requiring Barnes to write a sequel." James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder and The Philosopher's Apprentice
"A comic extravaganza, deftly plotted, fiendishly clever, and wonderfully funny....One of the classiest entertainments I've read." Christopher Bram, author of Exiles in America
"A wonderfully original concoction of grotesque humour and sparkling prose." The Guardian
In the sequel to the crazed Victoriana of The Somnambulist, the imaginative and brilliant Barnes brings his invention, satire, and curiosities up to date in this work hailed as "the best fantasy novel of the year" (Rocky Mountain News).
“An infectious blend of wit, wonder, and the bizarre presented with remarkable style.”
—San Antonio Express-News
Jonathan Barnes, author of The Somnambulist, outdoes himself in outrageous invention with The Domino Men. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Susanna Clarke, Matt Ruff, and Douglas Adams will not want to miss this quirky and compelling tale of intrigue, conspiracy, and general oddness. Think The Office meets James Bond fighting aliens with a healthy dollop of H.P. Lovecraft horror thrown in for good measure—and thats only half the fun of Barness wonderfully bizarre The Domino Men.
About the Author
Jonathan Barnes, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Somnambulist, graduated from Oxford University with a first in English literature. He reviews for the Times Literary Supplement and lives in London.
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