Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I started this book on the plain ride to London for my honeymoon over seven years ago. When I first started it, I loved it. A ton! For whatever reason, I didn't finish it. Newlywed, working a consistently busier job, and going to school just got in the way, and I lost track.

So I picked up the audio book last year to finally finish it! As much as I loved it when I first started reading it, I loved it even more now that I'm seven years older and more experienced with nuanced fiction and well-crafted writing.

I gave this four stars on Goodreads only because that extra star could have been earned with a few tweaks here and there that, individually, aren't a big deal, but if those tweaks were present, it would have been easily one of the top ten books I'd ever read.

As it stands, I think anyone who likes magic, historical fiction, fantasy, or anything nerdy should read it. Period. I cannot recommend this highly enough, it's an amazing book!

It's about two English magicians in the early 1800's and their quest to restore English magic to its ancient greatness. It's filled with a world of magical history (developed by Clarke for the novel) and quoted seamlessly and with a lot of effort through the use of footnotes.

There are other side-stories, too, and each of them weaves into the main plot so smoothly that it's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Not in a muddled way, but the way a tapestry's threads make a bigger whole than a single string.

The visuals are masterfully crafted. Sensory descriptions made my nose curl at unpleasant smells, my mouth water with savory flavors, and my ears pop with the noise of war as England fights off Napoleon's army.

If you want a great book and have time to dedicate to a 1000 page novel (yes, it's VERY long), I recommend this. Seriously, go get it.

Giles loves magic, especially magical realism that makes the real world seem more real with well-crafted rules to magic that may never have existed in reality, but exists in the minds of readers everywhere.

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