272 pages

English language

Published April 7, 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

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5 stars (15 reviews)

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.

There is one other person in the house--a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, Piranesi introduces …

12 editions

Well Worth Waiting For

5 stars

I've been excited by Susanna Clarke's writing since I first picked up Jonathan Strange, and when I first heard this book was coming out, I was suddenly aware that I hadn't heard about her in a long while! Some Googling revealed that she'd been suffering from severe health issues for years now, and this book was the result of more years of hardship than I could fathom. I preordered it immediately, and read it the moment it arrived.

Wow. So different, so quiet, and so, so good.

I've read plenty of reviews that disparage the book (usually because they felt the plot was thin or easily deduced, or because the narration was too simple or unrelatable), but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was surprised when reveals came, I was drawn into the narration and worldbuilding, and I found the narrator endearing, if a bit alien in perspective. …

Unfolding into the (Un)known

5 stars

I didn't know what to expect coming into this and I firmly recommend trying to go in with as little knowledge as you possibly can. The unfolding that occurs throughout the narrative was the payoff, the end just another event along a wave of experience.

A library book that has inevitably made it to my own collection, amongst the shelf of favorites that are destined to be reread over and over again.

Perfectly Crafted... Fantasy Novel? Oneiric Mystery?

5 stars

It's hard to overstate how much this book feels written specifically for me - I love books with any sort of physically improbable gigantic building, fantasy books where people enter other worlds, academic thrillers, etc - and Piranesi nails the blend perfectly. A sheer delight with an extremely thoughtful denouement.

Wonder, unfolding

5 stars

This is one of those "sense of wonder turned to 11" books for me. A great story that unfolds beautifully in the moment, and also makes you continually re-evaluate what you've read along the way.

The book's description mentions "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" and "Circe" as reference points. While those feel fair, I found myself thinking more about Patrick Rothfuss's "The Slow Regard of Silent Things" and M.R. Carey's Rampart Trilogy ("The Book of Koli", etc). There's a certain feeling I don't have the words to describe, but which feels shared among those books. "Reverence for the mundane" isn't quite it, but maybe close.

I had passed over "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" despite many recommendations, and now I feel compelled to revisit that!

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

5 stars

This is one of those books that's unlike any other. It's surreal and dreamy and the sheer "what the heck's going on?" factor compelled me to read it all in one day.

A novel like this - light on plot, with an extremely limited cast of characters, told in an epistolary style - really sinks or swims on the narrative voice. Luckily the titular Piranesi is fun to read, and comes across as practical and clever, curious and sweet. His ignorance is charming rather than frustrating, and of course his naivete is all part of the mystery.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves an atmospheric and/or experimental story.

Great Bedtime Story

5 stars

Content warning Spoilers at the bottom under a cut

Reality plus a little magic

4 stars

I really enjoyed the book, the smaller world that the protagonist lives in is very simple and is intriguing, but not somewhere I feel I need to return to. The larger universe though is interesting, with its reality plus a little magic vibe. I enjoyed the unravelling mystery and it compelled me to read it much faster than I've read books of similar size. The first few chapters describing the House reminded me of the descriptions of The Sleeper Service in Iain M Banks' book Excession. To the point where I thought the book was going to go in a sci-fi direction.

reviewed Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

slow to start, but it does get very good

5 stars

I found this book a bit slow for the first 50–60 pages, which are spent mostly describing the World without much of any sort of Plot happening. It only really begins to pick up around Part 3, when the mystery inherent to the setting starts to unravel, all through the eyes of a narrator not so much unreliable as naïve and lacking in knowledge, which makes him unable to understand things which are clear to the reader. It's the sort of book where it's worth reading (or at least skimming) the first few parts again to see what you missed the first read through.

A beautiful book that quiets and comforts my mind

5 stars

If we were born in another world what form would the shadows cast upon the walls of our cave take? What mythologies and art would inform our identity? What are the limits that malicious people have to do harm through warping and confining our realities? How does the society around me shape the person I am at any given time?

Piranesi explores these questions in a labyrinth of an endless house full of statues that is flooded by the sea. The answers are in the faces of our neighbors and in the hushing pose of the faun.

Review of 'Piranesi' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I've waited so long for a sequel to Strange & Norrell, but was thrilled to see the publication of this second, much different novel, which may (or may well not) be in the same "universe", as it were, as S & N.

The upshot: this is one of the most hauntingly beautiful books I have ever read, I can't recommend it enough.

(PS, it's a finalist in both the 2020 Nebula and Hugo awards.)