Book Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Reviewed: November 3rd, 2022
Released: September 15th, 2020
Genre: Conteporary Fantasy

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.

Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?

Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.

The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

Helen’s thoughts: 5/5

Well! I’m not too sure what to think, but I read this book in one sitting. Once you start reading you are hooked as the tension builds and the mystery slowly unravels.

There is nothing ‘traditional’ about this book in the way it is written or formatted. Although the capitalisation of odd words is offputting, (I still haven’t figured out why Clarke used them, I am sure there is reason, I just haven’t grasped it yet!), this book is beautifully written, and although a little confusing in places, easy to read, if that makes sense.

Piranesi is written like a diary or journal, with dated entries at the head of each section, there are no chapters. Once I got the gist of the headings, I did tend to skim over them, as they were long and repetitive, but the mix of Piranesi’s dates and the ‘real world’ calendar dates are a clever way of indicating when and where he is. And I must admit, until I read the blub of the book, I wasn’t sure if Piranesi was male or female, everything else is beautiful described, but not Piranesi, which I am sure was deliberate as he doesn’t know who he is either.

Piranesi is the guardian of the house and its contents. He is gentle and considerate, and believes he is there to keep everything safe. He has no idea where he came from, nor how long he has been there, but he is happy and content with what he has. His quiet respect and consideration carry through this entire book. He appreciates the beauty surrounding him. Clarke’s dealing of the ‘Other’ is a clever depiction of an intruder or one who wants what he believes is hidden, but doesn’t appreciate or enjoy anything he sees and therefore doesn’t deserve it.

All in all, an intriguing book which hooks you in and doesn’t let go. Piranesi is a worthy protagonist, one who slowly draws you into his world, and like himself, helps you forget what else is around you as you dive into the mysterious house and its many halls and inhabitants.

Purchase Piranesi via Amazon

Link to book on Amazon UK: Paperback

Link to book on Amazon US: Paperback

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If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my Romantic Fantasy SoulMist series or the epic fantasy Sentinal series. As a new threat against Remargaren is discovered, only one man can wake the ancient guards who can protect them, only he doesn’t know how. Start the adventure and stay for the journey. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next books are published.

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