Andrew Caldecott’s Momenticon is one of the most unique books I’ve read. Set in a future where humanity has conglomerated into domes due to environmental degeneration, this particular story largely takes place in a dome dedicated to the past – the Museum Dome. Here, unknown curators have selected a range of items to represent humanity’s history, from artefacts to paintings, and our intrepid hero, Fogg, has been taking care of them as the current curator with only an AI for company. In the three years he has been present in the Museum Dome, he has not experienced a single visitor. And then the museum starts getting visitors, two men called Dee and Dum – starting a thread of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland woven through the story.
As the cover of Momenticon already hints at, classical literature and art are a strong influence, particularly Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Characters come alive, there are scattered illustrations with elements taken from these source materials and it is generally woven in as a strong thread on the story, not merely passing mentions. The Museum Dome – and the artefacts kept within – are a living, breathing, entity, in essence, taking up space and momentum in the story.
Having been essentially on his own for three years, Fogg is not the most stable or well-adjusted of main characters. He is twitchy, lonely and neurotic, and thoroughly confused when things start to change. Intertwined with his is Morag’s story, a girl with a mysterious past who shows up in the Museum Dome shortly after Fogg’s first interactions with characters from Wonderland. Their banter and interactions are an absolute joy to read, as is the book more generally. I adored Momenticon from start to finish, and loved how Caldecott managed to craft something that is utterly his own.
This is Jo Fletcher Books’ lead title for spring 2022 and this is well-deserved. Momenticon is a book that is hard to place within (sub)genre boundaries, but it is a compelling and enrapturing story that captures the reader from the first page to the last. It may not be the best fit for readers who like straight-forward action novels, as it is more thoughtful and character-driven, but as the layers slowly unravel and peel off to reveal what is hidden underneath, the pay-off is worth it. For me, this was a five-star read, and I am looking forward to reading the second book in the duology when it comes out.