By Susannah Clarke
Reviewed by Caleb Rupp
Piranesi, the titular main character, dwells inside within a house of endless, cavernous halls. It is the only world he has ever known and he survives by fishing in the subterranean sea of the lower levels and drinking the fresh water that rains down from the clouds of the upper stairwells.
The name “Piranesi” is not even his own, but merely the moniker that has been given him by his friend, the gentleman who visits to study the House. Where does the friend come from? Piranesi does not know because the Halls are all he has ever known.
It’s too easy to spoil this book, as much of the joy of reading it comes from learning what is what through the journals of the decidedly unreliable narrator. Susannah Clarke is best known for her first novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (a book I cannot recommend highly enough), and while Piranesi doesn’t quite compare to that tome of a book, it is a fun and weird addition to her lexicon.
Quite good. Not great. But better than just good.
FOR: fans of surreal fiction and mind-bending fantasy.