Oliver Langmead's Metronome will be published by Unsung Stories in January 2017.

Information about Oliver Langmead:

Oliver Langmead was born in Edinburgh and lives in Glasgow. He has an LLB in Law, and an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study with a distinction, and is currently working towards an MLitt in Fantasy. His first book, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian's Best Books of 2015.

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about Metronome:

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, where reason is banished and only the imagination holds sway: the connected worlds that all sleeping minds inhabit, and the doors that lead between.

But tonight, one Sleepwalker has gone rogue. Abandoning her sworn oath to protect the dreamscapes for sleepers, she has devoted herself to another cause, threatening to unleash a nightmare older than man. The only chance of stopping her lies with a man named Manderlay.

Once a feted musician, William Manderlay is living his twilight years in an Edinburgh care home, riddled with arthritis and filled with a longing for his youth, for the open seas, and for the lost use of his hands and the violin he has always treasured.

For too long now, Manderlay's nights have been coloured by dark, corrupted dreams: dreams of leprous men in landscapes plucked from his memory, of dark figures seeking him on city streets. His comrades in the retirement home believe Manderlay is giving in to age and senility - but the truth is much worse. For in dreams, maps are made out of music - and it just might be that one of William Manderlay's forgotten compositions holds the key to unleashing the nightmare that holds the world of dreams in balance. The Sleepwalkers are zoning in on him. He might be their saviour, or his music might be their damnation...

From the author of Dark Star comes a literary fantasy like no other.


Let me start this review by saying that it's been a while since I've read anything as imaginative, exciting and original as Oliver Langmead Metronome. I read it in one sitting, because I couldn't stop reading it. The story pulled me in and I found myself fully immersed in it.

Metronome is Oliver Langmead's second novel (his debut novel, Dark Star, was published by Unsung Stories in 2015), and what a novel it is! It's a stunning and rewarding story about an old man's life and a journey to the world of dreams.

Because I've always been intrigued by stories and novels that focus on dreams and dream worlds or use them as important plot devices, I was delighted to read Metronome. I was pleased with its fresh story, because the author combined dreams, music and real life in a captivating way. It's an exceptionally well-crafted and beautifully written masterpiece of imaginative fiction that deserves to be praised for its stunning originality and amazing imagery.

Metronome is one of the most imaginative speculative fiction novels published during the recent years. It's more intriguing than dozens of other novels put together due to the author's unique story that combines fantasy fiction, literary fiction and adventure fiction in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. I can guarantee that you'll be hard-pressed to find similar kind of novels.

It's a bit difficult to classify this novel, but in my opinion, it's a literary fantasy novel with a few New Weird elements. It reads like an exotic and highly unusual blend of elements taken from Anthony Huso's The Last Page series, China Miéville's Bas-Lag series, Neil Gaiman's novels, David Edison's The Waking Engine and Douglas Thompson's science fiction stories with a tight focus on dreams and what's possible in the dream world. I'm fully aware that what I wrote in the previous sentence may sound confusing, but this novel is unlike any other modern speculative fiction novel. It's almost impossible to describe it otherwise, because it's something unique and different.

Metronome is a story about a pensioner called William Manderlay and the Sleepwalkers who hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. While having a dream William meets a Sleepwalker called March who tells him that he has a bad nightmare problem that needs to be sorted out before he wakes up. March tells William to go to the Capital while he hunts the nightmares. March gives William a compass which has an excess of needles in different colours so that he can find a way to the Capital. March and William agree to meet each other in the Capital. Along the journey, William meets June who turns out to be a rogue Sleepwalker with terrifying intentions...

This the begining of a story that fluctuates beautifully like a vivid dream and pulls readers into its wondrous world and lets them gaze at amazing sights. There's nothing pretentious, self-indulgent or annoying about this story, because everything works perfectly and all the possible elements are in perfect balance with each other.

The characterisation is excellent and fascinatingly vivid. It was enjoyable to read about the characters, because they felt real. The author explored the protagonist's past and feelings in a captivating and touching way. I was impressed by his way of writing realistically about health issues associated with old age (his portrayal of what an old man goes through and how he tries to cope with his life feels believable).

Will Manderlay is the protagonist of this novel. He's a pensioner who lives in a care home in Edinburgh and spends his time talking with his friend, Valentine, and playing illicit poker games. He's a retired sailor and former musician who has arthritis that complicates his life. He is plagued by feelings of regret and remorse because of the death of his wife. He dreams lucid and vivid dreams and talks about them to Valentine who thinks that he may be losing his mind.

The Sleepwalkers are dream warriors who hunt nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. They've been named after months. They navigate the doors between various dreams and kill nightmares. They do good and protect dreams, but one of them has gone rogue and is about to unleash something terrifying. The author writes excellently about the Sleepwalker called March and what he does. It was fun to read about him.

Oliver Langmead writes excellent prose. He has added an amazing amount of depth and substance to this novel, because the story is filled with fresh ideas, humour and good characterisation. His take on literary fantasy feels refreshingly invigorating, because he masterfully avoids clichés and deus ex machina moments.

The author creates captivating and stunning vistas with his prose. The Capital of the dreamscapes, Babel, is quite a memorable sight to behold in its glorious vastness. There's an impossibly huge tower at the heart of the city that dominates the landscape, and the haphazardly arranged roads lead towards it. The glittering sea is filled with sailing ships, steamships and all kinds of seafaring vessels. The skyship called Metronome is a fascinating sight.

The world described in this novel is delightfully complex and highly imaginative, but also strangely coherent. The author restrains himself from letting the story become overly complex by focusing on what's important and what is necessary to keep the story fascinating. He wonderfully drives the story forward by keeping tight reins on characterisation and plot.

One of the best things about this novel is that the author has created his own history and mythology for the dream world. He writes captivatingly about the ancient nightmare kings who used to rule the dreams and how the twelve Sleepwalkers came to guard the doors between dreams.

What I love perhaps most about this novel is that the author trusts his readers to be capable of understanding the nuances of the story and expects them to be intelligent enought to figure out what's going on without pointing out all the obvious things. I respect the author for creating an intelligent story that requires a bit of thinking from the readers.

It's intriguing that the protagonist's album, Solomon's Eye, is connected to the story, because it serves as a map to the prison which contains one of the nightmare kings. If the nightmare king is released from the prison, something bad and evil will happen.

I consider Metronome to be a first-rate literary fantasy novel with excellent prose and an engaging story. It's possible that this novel may well be the best and most imaginative fantasy novel of 2017, for it is something truly unique.

If you consider yourself to be a quality-oriented reader who enjoys reading novels that have excellent prose and complex stories, you will immediately love Oliver Langmead's Metronome when you begin to read it. It's in a league of its own when compared to other literary speculative fiction novels, because it's a stunning exploration of old age and the world of dreams. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves literary speculative fiction and well written stories.

Highly recommended!

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