New Fantasy: Susanna Clarke

Here’s a book that just came out this fall and is unlike any book I have ever read before. Susanna Clarke (of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell fame) has come out with a new novel called Piranesi. It’s a lot shorter than Jonathan Strange, but it packs just as hefty a punch.

The story is told in first person by a narrator, Piranesi, who lives almost alone in a house that he describes as though it is a labyrinth, infinite halls filled with thousands of unique statues. The ocean lives in the house too, and Piranesi learns to chart and predict the tides that fill the halls and flood the wings of the house. He frequently refers to a person he calls The Other, whom he meets twice a week to discuss a Great and Secret research project.

It’s clear from the beginning that Piranesi is not telling the whole story, and the reveal is masterfully handled over the course of the novel. The language and descriptions of the carvings and the ocean are beautiful and evocative. This is a unique and compelling story.

Other new fantasy novels from 2020 include:

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman

Mazes of Power by Juliette Wade

 

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