Fiction Book Reviews

Literary Fantasy | Metronome by Oliver Langmead

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Metronome is the second novel I’ve read from independent publishers Unsung Stories.  Publishing literary/speculative fiction, I knew from my previous experience that I was in for reading sessions with a difference.

Metronome surpassed my expectations – it’s a fabulous quest with legends, creation myth and a layer of the sacred woven through.  Publishing 17th January, you won’t want to miss this.


Unsung Stories

Publication January 17th 2017

ISBN (Print) 978-1-907389-39-9
ISBN (ePub) 978-1-907389-40-5

Category: Dreampunk, Fantasy, Literary  Fiction

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, 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 from 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…


I’ve always been an avid dreamer and find myself in the same coastal town (not where I live or anywhere I’ve visited) when I have an important ‘lesson’ to learn so I was intrigued with the whole concept of Metronome and especially the Sleepwalkers.

Beginning with Manderley’s life in reality and how his arthritis in both hands affects him we get an insight into his personality.  He’s led an interesting life but there have been some casualties along the way.  During one of his nightmares he meets Sleepwalker March and follows his instructions to get to the Capital where March will meet him.  On the way he meets Sleepwalker June – she’s been looking for him for a long time.  He hands over what she needs, not realising the importance or value of what he gives her.  Until March works it out.  And so the quest begins to reach Solomon’s Eye to try to stop her from her mission.

The Metronone is the skyship they travel on.  A pure work of art.  Steampunk in structure, it’s Captain Reid’s energy and being able to hear the songs on the wind as much as the Metronome that keeps them in the air.  It almost feels like a living and breathing entity.  Reid and Manderley’s need to get to Solomon’s Eye are motivated by different things but together they are a force to be reckoned with (Reid’s subplot I found very emotional).

The world building in this dreamscape land is fabulous.  It made sense to me 🙂  Doors as portals are common in the mythology of many different cultures and in Metronome used to great effect.  We get to experience the nightmares of children (common themes across cultures) as Manderley makes his way to the Capital as well as dreams of carnivals and festivals (not all Sleepwalkers hunt nightmares).  The shadows of the Capital made the hair rise on the back of my neck! One of the dreamscapes they stop off at is very depressing – I could see the reality of people’s dreams and nightmares creating this ‘town.’

This is a quest and we have plenty of conflict and action … from Sleepwalkers and nightmares, in the air and on land.  I was totally hooked in because I was as emotionally invested in March as I was with Manderley.  I have to say I couldn’t quite work out where one of the characters fit in (although I knew he was important) and loved this twist.

The numbers 12 and 7 are important in the story as well as The Magician (tarot), King Solomon (and a parable associated with him) and the metal gold.

The ending brings us back to reality and from a mundane and human element, perfect!  There could definitely be a sequel.

There is so much I want to say about Metronome but it’s hard without giving you spoilers.  It is fascinating.  It’s totally engaging.  I would love to see this as a movie.

If you enjoy reading about alternate realities, sci-fi, fantasy or dystopia, this is definitely a book for you.  I loved it!


I found the image above on Pixabay which to me, represents the quest.

About the Author

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.

Connect with Unsung Stories

Twitter @UnsungTweets

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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