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Fantasy Friday: 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.

Amazon Link: Piranesi

Author: Susanna Clarke

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

I really liked Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, so I was hoping for another book with lots of footnotes or something extra. Instead, this book is short and doesn’t have a lot of substance. I don’t think it helps that it made me think of The Starless Sea and it wasn’t nearly as cool for a drowned house. And it would be even worse to think of House of Leaves because of the labyrinth and minotaurs.

What this book actually is: a series of journal entries by an unreliable narrator. Well, he’s not deliberately unreliable, but he has forgotten many things and doesn’t know what he’s experiencing all the time. The twist was pretty obvious soon and after the big reveal, I was just waiting for the inevitable conclusion. Even that wasn’t very satisfying.

I just expected there to be something more to the House. Obviously not the deep secrets that the Other was looking for, but some reason why it had such a hold on Piranesi/the Narrator. But that never came true. It was empty and repetitive.

I’m not sure if I would count this as LGBT+ representation just because it’s mentioned that one character was gay and that might be the motivation for some of his reprehensible actions. Piranesi’s sexuality was never mentioned.

It was a quick and easy rea because there weren’t many pieces to keep track of, but it might have done better to pare it down as a short story, even. It just lacked meat on the bone.

I would definitely recommend reading Susanna Clarke’s other novel, or The Starless Sea, or even House of Leaves instead of this book. The only thing that you might choose this one for is that it’s shorter and less complex than the other books.

Here is the book in my reading journal:

Piranesi in my reading journal


I'm an author, a blogger, and a nerd. I read and write fantasy.