The Domino Men, by Jonathan Barnes
In an alternate London, a monstrous being known as the Leviathan has made a pact with the royal family for the souls of their kingdom. The only hope for London lies with an unassuming file clerk named Henry Lamb. When his grandfather falls ill, Henry must take his place and is brought into a world of danger and intrigue.
Henry Lamb is told that his grandfather had worked for a secret organization called the Directorate. Their sole mission is to stop the Leviathan and protect London from the royal family’s evil secret. But other evil also stands in the way, in the form of two strange twins called the Domino Men.
As with Barnes’ debut novel, The Somnambulist, this is a quirky fantasy with bizarre characters, dark humor, and elements of the paranormal. Written in a first person narrative, from Henry Lamb’s point of view, readers are thrown into a strange, and sometimes confusing, world where any sense of normalcy is thrown out the window.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Somnambulist, which focused more on a mystery. But The Domino Men seemed a bit choppy to me. The Domino Men themselves were secondary characters, and while eerie and cruel, were not central or even necessary to the plot. I did enjoy the unique style and even the story, with plenty of suspense and a few surprises. There just seemed to be missing a unifying element, between Henry’s words and the mysterious evil presence that begins inserting thoughts into his journal. Barnes is definitely a talented story teller. I can’t wait to see what his mind conjures up next.