By Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635577808, September 2021, 272pp.
The Short of It:
The Rest of It:
Our main character is called Piranesi, although he knows this is not his real name. He lives in a house with many halls and rooms. Each room is filled with beautiful statues in various stages of decomposition. Many, damaged by the birds or the harsh salt water environment. Because you see, this “house” has been taken over by the tides and the sea life within it. Fog rolls in. Rain is the only source of fresh water. Piranesi lives here with one Other, literally called “Other” and he tends to the many remains of those who came before him.
I am not much of a fantasy reader but from page two, I was completely sucked into this story. For one, the writing is lovely. Two, I could “see” this house in my mind. And although it’s a lonely kind of story, Piranesi is a happy person, content with keeping track of the tides and his research. But as you read, many questions come to mind. How did he get there? What has happened to civilization? Why doesn’t he leave?
I read an interview with the author and how she was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome while writing this. How she felt so isolated from the real world, while tending to her debilitating illness. This definitely played a role in how the story plays out. The isolation is palpable but so is hope.
This story is so different and refreshing. There’s enough of a mystery to pull you in, but your heart will be with Piranesi as he tries to piece this all together. It’s a fascinating read. I really need to own a nice physical copy of this one. I can see myself picking it up again to read soon. A classic.
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