Piranesi by Susanna Clarke | Erica Robbin
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Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

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Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was exactly the book I’ve been craving.

I enjoyed it as audiobook, narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was amazing. His tone and voice inflection was where I anticipated it to be, even when the characters were self-reflective, asking questions, or talking amongst themselves. Never mundane or fizzling out.

I’d recommend it to anyone, especially for readers who like meandering around, experimental literature, metafiction, and especially because it is rather short and inviting, visionary and puzzle-like.

The Story
I liked the life reveals and philosophical questions. This riddle-like presentation, matching the cover of this half man, half beast, was intriguing. I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, so this was long awaited publication from Susanna Clarke. This book is a bit different in content and style. I love C.S. Lewis so the ties to the story through certain characcatures were on an another level for me.

The Writing
The descriptions, atmosphere, and innocent perspective was where it was at. These rooms, sometimes described so bluntly with obvious purpose, other times more lyrical with deeper meaning, evoked mystery, playing on emotion, making me think there was hidden mystery lurking around every corner, sometimes more complex than what I could understand at times.

Like if a brick was pushed, it would reveal a hidden staircase leading you into a completely different world.

It got me to thinking of Narnia of course and this movie called Labyrinth I watched as a child. Putting lipstick on a brick, marking it with an arrow, and after turning away, hidden creatures would reposition it, making the girl lose her way. Then it got me to thinking of the weird but awesome David Bowie concert at the end. David Bowie, George Lucas, Jim Henson, what a creative trio for a movie. I’d like to see this book as a movie.

Characters
Anyway, the strong visuals were there and I really enjoyed the trajectory of the characters, Piranesi especially. The timeline, the personal documentation with diary keeping, each piece titled out, The Year of the Albatross. Sometimes monotonous parts hovered around a little longer than I wanted for the moment. But the fantastical elements kept it intriguing and the unacquainted lessons with the world kept it in check with human experience and nature.

View all my reviews

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