Review of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

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 the most surprising books that I have read in a long time. The blurb was kind of informative but also vague and I really didn’t know what to expect going in. I’m still not really sure how I would describe it, but I’m going with intensely captivating. As i started reading I was hit with a sense of dystopia which quickly moved onto something else and then something else entirely. Piranesi is a beautiful voice to follow though, he has almost childlike wonder at this home and he is so wholesome with his earnest approach to every task and situation he finds himself presented with. He is resourceful and mindful and just a joy to read. Because of how joyful he is, that is what for me, as a reader, made it so difficult to come to terms with what happens in the pages. Whilst there was a minor sense of underlying unease from the very start as the story unravels it becomes very dark at times as a wider existential conspiracy begins to surface.

It’s very hard to write a detailed review because of how much the story twists and takes you by surprise which then makes it even harder to explain what it didn’t like, because sadly this fell short at the final stage which I think was mainly down to a certain flatness following a major incident. I feel that there were many paths the author led us too but only really walked us all the way down one when I wanted to know so much more!

Piranesi as a character though remains infinitely charming throughout and I could have read his often soothing and methodical narrative for many days more. If you’re a fan of short punchy books which are full of twists and puzzles, you will love Piranesi!


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