Metronome by Oliver Langmead
Metronome is Oliver Langmead’s second novel, following his debut Dark Star, a Guardian Best Book of 2015. It is quest novel with a distinct steampunk theme, the titular Metronome being an airship so called due to the regular ticking sound it makes. The story moves fluidly in and out of the real and dream worlds and I loved that, in the dreamworld, death is an awakening.
The man at the centre of this story, and through whose eyes we view events, is Will Manderley, a former musician now residing within an Edinburgh care home, an ex-sailor still feeling wanderlust and the lure of the open sea, plagued not only by arthritis but also by remorse and regret. The source of said remorse and regret being his wife and daughter, and I found his and their backstory, told in flashbacks, to be most poignant and the highlight of the novel.
The novel’s other focus falls on the Sleepwalkers, dream warriors hunting the nightmares which haunt sleeping minds. They traverse the connected dreamworlds but one Sleepwalker has gone rogue, abandoning her oath to protect the dreamscapes, threatening to unleash a nightmare older than man.
The lives of the Sleepwalkers and Will Manderley entwine and Will must regain the use of his hands and play the violin again. The dreamworld is mapped with music and one of Will’s forgotten compositions holds the key to an ancient secret.
The story I believe is neatly encapsulated in these words uttered by Callister, the Metronome shipwright: “These days I have the pleasure of putting together great flying boats in the sky so that mad captains can go chasing bits of sheet music across half of bloody dreaming.” It’s not an easy book to describe but this paragraph I think does it nicely.
I liked Metronome from the outset. Langmead was not an author I was familiar with prior to reading and the trepidation that one feels when reading an unknown disappeared within the first chapter, such was my positive reaction to the novel. Initially I was a little concerned about how the author would use the dreamworld. The power of dreams is absolute, literally anything can happen and this allows the author the opportunity to do whatever they wish - deux ex machina on tap if you like. So I feel it is vital that rules are established that prevent this in the dreamworld otherwise there will be no tension. And in the main Langmead avoids this.
I liked the mixture of dreams, music, and Sleepwalkers. I thought it an exciting framework for a fantasy story and while I do find many aging musicians a mite tragic (think Creme Brulee from A League of Gentlemen) it was important that I warm to the book’s lead Manderlay. And I did. He was a charming character and one whose early life I was eager to read about. I wanted to know how this care home resident would find himself in places where Sleepwalkers, nightmares and dreamworlds existed.
There are many influences to be found driving the narrative, ranging from Escher to the The Tower of Babel, Jazz to art, and this made for a rich texture. As we board the Metronome the story really takes off. Langmead’s writing is imaginative, with a narrative that is at times poetic and I greatly enjoyed visiting the wonderfully grey city of Binary, and seeing the wonders of Babel. There was an ease to the reading of this book. I felt comfortable within its pages and when Will uses his music to create a map which will allow the airship Metronome to fly to the centre of Solomon’s Eye and rescue a stranded crew, we rush headlong to an exciting denouement.
I enjoyed Metronome, it was a fun and dreamy reading experience which I found reminiscent of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, in feel.
This Metronome book review was written by Floresiensis
Have you read Metronome?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Metronome reader reviews
7.8/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Dark Tower series
Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our ow...
Aden awakens naked in a bath tub, knowing only that he is dead. His new world is Nightfall, a place filled with characters bizarre, grotesque and magical: Julius the duke, ...
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
He called himself Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, because he dared not believe in the strange alternative world on which he suddenly found himself - the Land. But the Land...
City of Stairs
Robert Jackson Bennett
You've got to be careful when you're chasing a murderer through Bulikov, for the world is not as it should be in that city. When the gods were destroyed and all wor...
WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11/22/63, the date that Kennedy...
Take a trip in a stranger's head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not f...
Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex-other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and re...
The Four Realms
Half-vampire Darwin stumbles across a corpse on the streets of London, and in a pocket discovers a notebook in a mysterious language. Divided between human ethics and vampi...
Weaveworld is an epic adventure of the imagination. It begins with a carpet in which a world of rapture and enchantment is hiding; a world which comes to life, alerting the...
The Portable Door
Starting a new job is always stressful, but when Paul Carpenter arrives at the office of J.W. Wells he has no idea what trouble lies in store. Because he is about to discov...
The Silent Land
A young couple are caught in an avalanche during a ski-ing holiday in the French Alps. They struggle back to the village and find it deserted. As the days go by they wait f...
The Lazarus Gate
Mark A Latham
London, 1890. Captain John Hardwick, an embittered army veteran and opium addict, is released from captivity in Burma and returns home, only to be recruited by a mysterious...
Between Two Thorns
Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath's secret mirror city. The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, i...
A serial killer is on the loose in Ostend, Belgium. Nicknamed The Stuffer, the mysterious killer fills his victims full of sand and poses them as public art installations -...
The Chronicles of Amber
Amber is one real world, casting infinite reflections of itself - shadow worlds, which can be manipulated by those of royal Amberite blood. But the royal family is torn apa...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended parallel universe / Alternate reality books
Best of 2016
A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through......
Paternus: Rise of Gods
Even myths have legends. And not all legends are myth. When a local hospital is attacked by strange and frightening men, Fiona Patterson and Zeke Prisco save a catatonic old m...
It is for the entities known as Sleepwalkers to cross the doors between dreams, and hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. Theirs is a world of impossible vistas, wher...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she...
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her al...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...