The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think at some point I may have heard of Barnes’ first novel, The Somnambulist, but I can’t swear to that. This is book #2 in a series – a fact that irks me no end when I find out after I finished the book. But, I think they can be read as single novels with no detriment to the reader.

This was classified as a horror/fantasy novel. I really got no sense of horror at all. To me this novel is fantasy through and through. Darn good fantasy too. There is definitely darkness to it but nothing that at all that verges into the horror genre.

Henry Lamb is a civil servant. He is also a child star with an annoying catch phrase that follows him through life. His father died when he was young, his mother is a little daft with a series of boyfriends in tow. His grandfather, Henry’s mentor, is in a coma in the hospital.

Out of the blue, Henry is promoted to a top secret assignment in the civil service. An area known only as “The Directorate” and which is housed in a mirage inside one the cars of the London Eye. A top secret prison/holding facility is located deep within the bowels of 10 Downing Street and in this facility are The Domino Men. They are a creepy set of twins, dressed as schoolboys and they have a very sadistic side to them.

The Directorate is made up of all manner of interesting and eccentric characters who have been carefully recruited. Henry’s grandfather is one of these. And now, so is Henry. Their mission? To control and/or destroy a deal that Queen Victoria made during her reign signing away all of the souls of London to an inhuman entity.

The House of Windsor is now in a position to carry out their end of the bargain and at the same time that The Directorate is trying to foil the plot, the House of Windsor is being infiltrated by the baddies to move the plot forward.

This is a very English book with very English humor. I noted the disparity in opinions about the book and I know that English humor is not for everyone. The ending is a very dry, very black and extremely witty ending and I loved it. But that’s not say it will hit all readers the same way.

While I am not constrained by genre, I am the first to admit that fantasy is probably one of my weaker categories in that I have not read as widely in this area. But I loved this book and I am going back to find the first novel. It took me a bit to get into the story but once I locked in, I found it hard to put down. I had to hurry up and get this review done! The book is already being snatched out of my pile to be read by someone else. And that speaks volumes about how good it is!


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