Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

What. A. Book.

The frustrating thing is that I’ve just finished an incredible book – and I can’t think of a person alive to whom I’d recommend this thing. I cannot imagine the intended audience for it.

The book is huge. Dense. Bizarre. I was prolly 200 pages in before I grasped the plot – and even then it slipped through my fingers at times only to be recovered chapters later.

And the writing! It was some weird, uptight, Jane-Austen-without-Mr-Darcy bullshit. Dryer than the Sahara. For several chapters I’d laugh and then think “shit. Was that supposed to be funny? Should I have laughed there?” But, good God, it’s clever. Sharp as a razor. Absolutely brilliant. Genius-level world building. This book is Other. An actual masterpiece.

Quick plot summation – Mr Norrell is a magician and a dick. Mr Strange is a magician and a flake. They meet. They do magic. They create huge problems. They fight. They have to fix the huge problems. And the ending is blindingly perfect. I set the book down and stared at nothing for 2 minutes – in awe of what I’d experienced.

So if I ever come across someone who says “AR, I need a recommendation. I love Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment. Jane Austen would be perfect if she’d get rid of all the romance. I want a book that combines the prose and emotion of the Russian masters but is fantasy and 800 pages long” I’ll burst into tears. That will be my moment! I can proudly point them to Ms Clarke and her opus.

***Now to do the thing I’ve been dying to do for over a month. I’m going to read other reviews! I can’t wait to see what other readers thought about this beast. ❤

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