Piranesi by Susanna Clarke - Book Review

Write on: Wed, 30 Sep 2020 by  in John's Reviews Read 4452

As I believe I have mentioned in previous reviews, I have greatly struggled this year to actually sit down and read a physical book. My last six reviews, I believe, have all been audio books. It is therefore with sincere happiness I can tell you about Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, the first physical book I have managed to read in its entirety since February.

Piranesi tells the story of a lone man’s life in an otherworldly house comprised of labyrinthine corridors, populated by stunning statues, and filled with a boundless ocean. His lone companion, apart from a wide variety of birds and fish, is the Other, a mysterious man who seeks Piranesi’s aid in discovering A Great and Secret Knowledge within the House.  But in search of this secret knowledge, Piranesi uncovers a far more sinister truth than he could have possible imagined. What follows is a tale comparable to likes of Carroll, Lewis, or L’Engle.

What struck me immediately when I began Piranesi, a brief two days ago, was the voice. Written in first person, I was instantly plunged into the character and his world. Even the author’s convention for the passage of time lends to this mysterious and baffling world. Every word offers fresh insight; every sentence brings new questions. There is a simplicity to the story and prose that evoked, most particularly, the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman while filling me with the same wonder I felt while reading Alice in Wonderland for the first time.

At 248 pages, it is a rather quick read. Had I the time, I’m certain I could have read it in one sitting (unlike Jonathan Starnge & Mr. Norrell which is the best kind of doorstop). And I suspect this would be the best way to enjoy the story. I suspect I will have read this multiple times before I’m able to unravel even a fraction of the layers here. For instance, I’m certain there is more to the naming convention, capitalization of ideas, and relationships that speaks to society, but I haven’t had the time to really dwell on these yet.

Maybe you can find the time.

If you’re looking for something that is new but feels timeless, I can’t recommend Piranesi enough. I suggest you head to your local bookstore and pick up a copy, and who knows, maybe you’ll luck out and find an autographed copy…like I did.

What can I say?

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


Last modified on Thursday, 17 February 2022 16:58

John Scritchfield spends his days caring for his four children and his nights wearing costumes and pretending to hit people with blunt weaponry. There is very little money it. He holds an MFA in Acting, which he puts to use as the Creative Director for the Calvin Theatre Company at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he also teachesIn his free time, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading, writing, and spending time with his wife, children, and two cats (Jasnah and Vin). Oh, he's also the Booknest co-Admin.