The Domino Men
By Jonathan Barnes
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061671401, 400pp.)
Publication Date: February 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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.
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.
“Another remarkable outing, an infectious blend of wit, wonder, and the bizarre presented with remarkable style. This is literary fiction for the genre fiction set, or possibly the other way around...genuinely shocking and inventive.”
-San Antonio Express-News
“Strange, outrageous, and wonderful … There is much that is strange, magical, and darkly hilarious about this book … An original and monumentally inventive piece of work by a writer still in his 20s. Barnes seems to leave himself room for a sequel—a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
“Barnes’s second novel, a compelling supernatural thriller, shows that his impressive debut, The Somnambulist, was no fluke. …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)
“A comic extravaganza, deftly plotted, fiendishly clever, and wonderfully funny. Jonathan Barnes combines a love of Victorian absurdity worthy of Edward Gorey with the surrealistic invention of a London-obsessed Garcia Marquez. This parody penny-dreadful is one of the classiest entertainments I’ve read in a long, long time.”
-Christopher Bram, author of Exiles in America
“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
“Kudos Barnes for another winner that is as funny as it is creepy, as thought provoking as it is entertaining.”
-Colorado Springs Independent
“This promising debut subverts its 19th-century predecessors amusingly. Inventive and often witty. A cabinet crammed with curiosities.”
“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 fantastic novel.”
-Denver Rocky Mountain News
“Old school entertainment in the penny-dreadful tradition that almost succeeds in being as sublime as it is ridiculous.”
“Sneaky, cheeky, and dark in the best possible way, Jonathan Barnes’ massively entertaining The Somnambulist manages to make the familiar daringly unfamiliar. I enjoyed the heck out of this novel.”
“The best fantasy novel of the year.”
-Rocky Mountain News
“Unmatched life and verve.”
-Washington Post Book World
“If you only read one black comedy with the brains and labyrinthine twists of Vedantic hair-splitting, make it this one....a gripping yarn.”
“Magical, dark, beautifully odd–and utterly compelling–this is an astonishing debut.”
-Michael Marshall, author of The Intruders
“A wonderfully original concoction of grotesque humour and sparkling prose.”
“Nothing about Barnes’s follow-up to The Somnabulist is predictable....The grotesque fantasy world is a riot.”
-mX Brisbane (Australia)