Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Categories: Fantasy, Mystery, Literary Fiction
First Publication Date: September 15th 2020
Synopsis: 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.
Piranesi is one of those books that will pull you into their world and every time you need to pause reading, the real world looks a little grey, a little lifeless compared to the book. I adore this kind of book that just sucks you in, and it reminded me of The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton in terms of atmosphere and how the mystery relies a lot on the fantastical world it’s set in. I loved getting lost in the House, its Halls and the gorgeous imagery in this book. Piranesi himself is also a delight and such a charming character. Susanna Clarke takes her time setting the world, which meant that it took me 50 or so pages to really get into the story – it sounded like pretentious nonsense, to be completely honest. But after that, once you get a good idea of how the world works and the mystery starts to drive the plot, I was hooked and devoured this.
It is a bit hard to write this review (I’ve been postponing writing this for a week now) because I don’t really know what to say. This was really, really good! The perfect kind of escapist, fantastical mystery that I love, whimsical enough to make it charming but also haunting and dark.
I was a bit let down by the ending, which was predictable, and did not feel like it was in the same pacing and atmosphere as the rest of the book, which is why I am not giving this 5 stars. It was very strong on the first half but it lost me a bit on the second. But I highly enjoyed this and look forward to re-reading this little gem!