Thursday, January 14, 2021

Piranesi: a Spoiler-Free Review

I just finished reading Susana Clarke's second novel, Piranesi (2020) and it is just as wonderful as her first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004) while being so utterly unlike it that you would never guess that they were by the same author. Their only commonality is that both are distinctly British fantasy novels.  Basically, if you like good fantasy novels, pick it up & read it.


That's the long and the short of it, except that I should add that I think it's a particularly good book to go into blind.  After I finished reading it, I glanced at a few reviews, and I was very glad I hadn't done so first.  Of course, for many of you, "by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" is sale enough. The rest of you should go read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.—Ok, I kid: I know that that latter book was not for everyone, although for a large number of people it was utterly superb. But I will say that if you generally like fantasy but were put off by Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, then probably the parts that put you off are absent from Piranesi.

Beyond that? Try to learn nothing.  The first page or two of Piranesi can be confusing, but the immediate mysteries are cleared up within another few pages. You'll be quite comfortable with them before the new mysteries, the ones you don't want spoiled, start piling up.


There's more to say about this book — a lot more — but for now, that's where I'll stop. It's great, go read it, avoid reviews.

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