Jonathan Barne's debut novel, The Somnambulist is a Gothic Horror Fantasy set in the late Victorian period. The story follows washed-up magician and amateur detective, Edward Moon, as well his companion, The Somnambulist, on their journey to solve their first truly big case in quite some time. What seems to start out as a simple murder, however, is soon revealed to be part of a larger conspiracy that could destroy all of London. There also also several subplots, including a top secret organization known as The Directorate, Edward's sister, his former pupil, as well as a man who lives backwards in time, and is hinted to be the first king of London. Only some are explained in detail. A sequel, The Domino Men, was published a few years later.
This novel provides examples of:
- Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: There's a Running Gag about a criminal that dug his way into one of these.
- The Ace: Edward's former assistant was implied to be this.
- Affably Evil: Reverend Dr. Tan
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Yiangou, who owns an opium den.
- Ambiguously Bisexual: Barabbas
- Anti-Hero: Moon is either a Type II or III
- Anyone Can Die: Not counting Honeyman or Dunbar, there are a staggering amount of casualties in this book: The Human Fly, Mr. Skimpole, The Somnambulist, Arthur Barge and Mrs. Puggsley, just to name a few.
- The Apprentice: Barabbas was this to Edward
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Edward, a stage magician, is awfully dismissive of mediums.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Yiangou, as well as the "Chinamen" working for the Directorate.
- Back from the Dead: The reanimated Coleridge.
- Bar Brawl: The fight in the opium den is a minor example.
- Batman Gambit: Like you wouldn't believe. And for possibly the stupidest reason such a gambit has been enacted. Incompetence causes you to dig yourself into the sewers while trying to rob a bank and you get caught by Moon. Obviously the solution to heal your wounded ego is start a cult, stage an elaborate setup of murders, ruin an entire section of London's secret service, resurrect a dead man a la Frankenstein and launch an assault on the city.
- Big Bad: Reverend Dr. Tan/The Narrator
- Big Fancy House: Edward and the Somnambulist go to a few parties where these take place.
- Bigger Is Better: The Somnambulist. And how.
- Bittersweet Ending: The forces of Pantisocracy are beaten and Dr. Tang is arrested. However, the Somnambulist is dead, Charlotte, Grossmith and Speight are Pantisocrats, leaving Edward with no one but Dr. Tang to talk to. Add in the high body count left in the wake, as well as the fact that the Prefects are still on the lam...
- The Can Kicked Him: A minor character is mentioned to have been found murdered in a bathroom.
- Cassandra Truth: Innocenti is implied to have made up all of her seeings except those involving Moon and when her scam is uncovered, those seeings are discounted as evidence by investigators.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: The novel can often drift between scenes of Gothic horror and witty banter seemingly on the drop of a hat. The Lemony Narrator helps ease the transition, however.
- Character Development: Moon becomes far humbler over the course of the novel.
- A Chat with Satan: Moon's chats with Barrabas.
- Chekhov's Skill: The Somnambulist's invulnerability.
- The Chessmaster: The Reverend Dr. Tan
- Churchgoing Villain: The Big Bad is a Reverend of his own church.
- Closer to Earth: Moon's housekeeper Mrs. Grossmith
- Code Name: The Mongoose aka Arthur Barge.
- Collector of the Strange: Barabbas
- Contract on the Hitman: Skimpole hires the Prefects to kill the Mongoose, an assassin hired to kill the Directorate.
- The Corrupter: Skimpole was this to Moon's apprentice, aka Barabbas.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: ALMOST Everyone who goes up against the Somnambulist ends up regretting it instantly.
- Cyanide Pill: An assassin sent to kill Dedlock and Skimpole uses one.
- Darkest Hour: The Somnambulist has been kidnapped, Tan's forces are beating the police and are well on the way to destroying London, and then the Prefects show up.
- Dead Sidekick: The Somnambulist.
- Deadpan Snarker: Edward, Charlotte, Barabbas... the list goes on and on.
- Death of a Child: Skimpole's son
- Deal with the Devil: Edward working with The Directorate.
- Deceptive Disciple: In a moment of extreme gullibility, Dr. Tan believes that Edward has joined him, despite the fact that he has no real reason to.
- Den of Iniquity: Yiangou's Opium Den
- Despair Event Horizon: Edward, after the Somnambulist dies, leaving him officially alone.
- Destination Defenestration: How Cyril Honeyman and Philip Dunbar are killed, although they're more PUSHED than thrown.
- Disney Villain Death: Again, Honeyman and Dunbar.
- The Dragon: An interesting case. The Reverend Dr. Tan clearly considers himself to be this to Coleridge.
- Dysfunction Junction: The vast majority of the cast probably have an undiagnosed disorder or two.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Love, Love, Love and Love
- Evil Counterpart: Barabbas is this to Edward Moon.
- Evil Plan: Left ambiguous for much of the story. It's revealed near the end that the Reverend Dr. Tan wishes to kill most of London's population in order to start over and reclaim the country for the ideals of Pantisocracy.
- Expecting Someone Taller: The Prefects say this about Skimpole
- Feels No Pain: The Somnambulist is a literal example.
- Foreshadowing: Several examples, the most notable being the references to the criminal digging his way into the sewer.
- Genre-Busting: It's a fantasy/Gothic horror/mystery/black comedy.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Edward Moon is definitely one of the book's smarter characters, although it's hard to tell if he's smarter than The Prefects.
- Grave Robbing: How the Pantisocrats retrieved Coleridge's body.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Though they don't really fit in with the main conflict, the Prefects are a bigger threat and (arguably) do more damage than Reverend Dr. Tan could have done.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: The Clapham Disaster has ruined Edward's reputation.
- I Have Many Names: The Mongoose. His real name is revealed to be Arthur Barge.
- Informed Ability: Near the beginning, it's hinted at that Moon might actually be a real magician, instead of a mere illusionist. After one scene, however, nothing he does afterward seems to indicate that he has supernatural powers.
- It Is Beyond Saving: Averted. Reverend Dr. Tan believes that London can be saved, but only if the majority of its citizens are killed.
- Jerkass: Edward Moon and Mr. Skimpole, as well as several minor characters.
- Karma Houdini: The Prefects simply disappear from the conflict. The sequel double subverts this; at first it seems that they're in prison, but it's later revealed this is done merely by choice.
- Kick The Son Of A Bitch: The Prefects killing The Mongoose.
- Lethal Diagnosis: Skimpole.
- Laughably Evil: Dr. Tang and the Prefects.
- Last of His Kind: It's hinted that the Somnambulist is the last remnant of the same race of giants as Gog and Magog.
- Like a Son to Me: Ned Love to Coleridge.
- Lured into a Trap: The whole plot, arguably.
- Narrator All Along: Reverend Dr. Tan
- Near-Villain Victory: The day is won only by Edward causing Coleridge to go insane. The Prefects probably helped too.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If the Reverend hadn't lured Edward into his trap, then he probably would have succeeded.
- No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: The Reverend Dr. Tan at first assumes Edward doesn't remember him because of this; he soon becomes furious when he doesn't remember him by his REAL name either.
- No Social Skills: Edward is rather rude and standoffish to most people he meets.
- Noodle Incident: In spades, partially involving Moon's prior cases, but also as a side effect of What Happened to the Mouse?
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Reverend Dr. Tan
- Not So Invincible After All: I'm sorry. I thought he was indestructible.
- Oh, and X Dies: Cyril Honeyman dies at the end of the first chapter, after the narrator warning about this. Played more straight with Skimpole and the Somnambulist.
- Older Than They Look: The Somnambulist is hinted to be the last of the race of giants that were killed by King Lud/Thomas Cribb.
- The Only One: Many believe that Moon is the only person who can possibly solve the mystery.
- Only Sane Man: Edward Moon believes himself to be this.
- Outside-Context Problem: The Prefects, who seem to operate on a completely different level than the rest of the characters.
- Peace & Love Incorporated: The firm of Love, Love, Love & Love
- Pet the Dog: Skimpole gets a few of these, mainly with his son.
- Plot-Triggering Death: The murder of Cyril Honeyman
- Police Are Useless: Played with; the police are shown to be capable of solving simple cases, but need Edward's help to solve the murder of Cyril Honeyman. Eventually subverted with Merryweather and the other police helping to hold back the forces of Love, Love, Love and Love.
- Politically Correct History: Averted; there's a lot of sexism, racism and cruel treatment of "freaks" running as an undercurrent throughout the novel.
- Posthumous Character: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, before being resurrected.
- Precision F-Strike: The Human Fly uses a lot of foul language in the afterlife.
- Professional Killers: The Prefects and the Mongoose.
- Psychic Powers: It's left ambiguous about the extent of Madame Innocenti's powers.
- Psychopathic Man Child: The Prefects have this in spades. Despite acting like school boys (almost like the Weasley Twins), they are also remorseless killers.
- Public Domain Character: Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
- Red Shirt: The police during the climax
- Running Gag: The bank robber that tunnelled into the sewers.
- Self-Deprecation: The Narrator often disparages his own writing.
- Sick and Wrong: Lampshaded by the Narrator in regards to Moon's fetish
- Spanner in the Works: The Prefects. The Reverend Dr. Tan also tried to bump off the Directorate in an effort to avert this.
- Token Romance: Subverted with Mrs. Grossmith and Arthur Barge. It seems trivial at first, right until Barge is revealed to be the Mongoose.
- Trademark Favorite Food: The Somnambulist's love for milk.
- Trouble Follows You Home: Moon's Theater
- Unreliable Narrator: The Narrator freely admits that parts of the story are Blatant Lies, but points out moments of falsity almost as quickly as they arrive.
- Villainous Breakdown: A minor one, with Dr. Tang becoming more and more frustrated with Edward, resulting in a freakout as Coleridge goes crazy.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Somnambulist's fear of heights.
- Wham Line: But you will know me better, dear reader, as your narrator.
- World of Snark: Pretty much every character, to varying degrees.
- Worthy Opponent: Edward laments the lack of worthy opponents during the course of the novel; Barabbas was apparently his last.
- Yellowface: In-Universe. The Directorate employs white agents disguised as Chinamen.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Implied. The Reverend Dr. Tan admits he used the Honeymans and Dunbars for their money, and when everything was set into motion, they were no longer needed.