By Susanna Clarke

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 • 245 Pages

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How do I even begin to describe this book? In one word, claustrophobic. In many– mysterious, lonely, strange, tense, and beguiling.

The setting is a house with infinite rooms, statues, and corridors. The narrative, itself, is a labyrinth, and I found myself putting together bits and pieces at a time— rather slowly at first. After about midway, the plot picks up pace and I found myself in a murder/occult mystery that kept me reading till the end.

Some things I especially enjoy are the ways Clarke makes you feel lonely and closed in–– although these feelings aren’t especially pleasing, it’s a testament to the skill of the writer to manipulate your emotions through the setting and characters’ thoughts and actions. In the mind of Piranesi, I almost felt as if I were the one experiencing the effects of suppressed trauma despite how positive and jovial his character is.

The beginning of the story is slow paced and requires some dedication to push through and some descriptions were overwrought with unnecessary details when simplicity would suffice. The main character is a passive and at times annoyingly naive, but Piranesi is suppressing trauma and is completely mad from it. So even while characters like that aren’t necessarily enjoyable, it made perfect sense.

Piranesi is enchanting as much as it’s disturbing and if you can push through the first half, I’d say the story as a whole is truly something peculiar and memorable.

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