Book Review: Piranesi

Have you ever read a book and thought, ‘This is my kind of book?’ I just did.

I love many books, but this one was the kind of book I would stick to the top if I was trying to explain my taste.

Introducing Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke.

The first thing I thought when I saw this book, ‘Wait, is this the abridged version?’ Why? Because it was so short. At least compared to Susanna Clarke’s behemoth of a debut novel. Actually, I read this one lovely autumn evening.

Side Note: I am loving the long, dark evenings this year. They are so perfect for reading and doing crafts.

I randomly found the book at the library, and since it was so short, tucked it under my arm and took it home with me. After all, her last book was good.

While I liked ‘Johnathon Strange and Mr. Norrell’, I loved ‘Piranesi’.

The book has 4 characters, 4. One of them only comes in for a scene. Another is only there for the end of the book. So basically, there are two characters in this novel. If you haven’t read a novel with a small cast, I recommend it highly. After dizzying myself with high fantasy for so many years, I have come to adore small books with a short cast list. It is like catching my breath after a stiff wind.

I absolutely loved the setting of the novel. The House is beautiful, and seeing it through the eyes of a character who adored the House, made me love it even more. It was like listening to someone gush about their hometown, or how much they love the house they just bought. The main character, Piranesi, adored the House, there are pages and pages on the beauties he has found in the House and how they inspire him or fill him with peace. Do yourself a favor and look up Piranesi aesthetic on Pinterest. I just did, it was beautiful.

Imagine a mansion with staircases leading to the sky, or down the depths of the ocean. There are endless halls with countless statues all depicting something different. Endless variety, and a lifetime to see it all with. That is the House.

Another thing I loved about the novel was how it was laid out. The entire novel was the journal of the main character. Piranesi keeps a detailed novel about everything he does and sees. Including detailed descriptions of the House, and his struggles as he realizes that not everything is as it appears… I love the journal format of a novel, there is a closeness to it. Characters put to paper what they would never admit to a soul, and seeing it makes me know characters a little better. Without having to wade through the endless emotions when it is their thoughts.

This novel made me realize what is possible in fiction. I am not bound by the ‘laws’ of story. I could write a story that breaks all of those rules of conventional storytelling, I could write a novel that does not follow any trend, or any genre. Storytelling is as endless as the imagination. If I have an imagination, I can write whatever I want.

I know this book isn’t for everyone, but if my review has pricked your interest at all, go read it. Enjoy it with a warm cup of tea and a soft blanket. I hope you like it.

Shaina Merrick