book review


written by
susanna clarke
review by
todd kuchel

Sixteen years after the release of the international best seller, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, Susanna Clarke has returned with her second masterpiece, Piranesi.

Piranesi is the name given to the protagonist who lives in a house, if you can call it that.

Determined to explore as much of this ‘house of infinite halls’ he calls his world as possible, Piranesi has travelled as far as the nine-hundred-and-sixtieth hall to the west, the eight-hundred-and-ninetieth hall to the north and the seven-hundred-and-sixty-eighth hall to the south.

In the upper halls, clouds move in slow procession and statues appear out of the mist. Lower, are the drowned halls, where dark water covered in water lilies rise and fall with the tides, creating treacherous zones.

Piranesi estimates his age to be between thirty and thirty-five, though he cannot know for sure. His memory does not delve back that far.

He catalogues the happenings and discoveries of each day in a journal and files them under reference of memorable events.

The story begins with the entry for the first day of the fifth month in the year the albatross came to the south- western halls.

Although Piranesi has discovered evidence that fifteen people once existed in this world, he shares this enormous, yet enclosed world with only one other, which he refers to as, The Other.

The Other has an estimated age between fifty and sixty. He believes that there is a great and secret knowledge hidden within this world that will grant enormous powers.

Piranesi meets with, The Other only twice a week to discuss their discoveries and their mission to uncover the great power.

Piranesi is content in his world of quarantine and values his friendship with The Other greatly.

He has no intent to escape, only to discover the origin of his home. That is until Piranesi meets a 16th person.

Piranesi’s thoughts begin to change with the meeting of 16 and strange discoveries lead to a realisation.

So cleverly the truth behind this naive character of Piranesi unfolds as we, the readers, discover the reality behind his life in a unique way.

Never do I read other reviews or want to know what the books I’m reviewing are about before I read them.

With this one, I only wish I knew it was written in the form of diary entries.

With that knowledge, you will all be able to enjoy it right from the beginning.

For me, this story feels almost like the foundation of an epic character. The detail of this house alone is tremendous!

We read so many stories of temples, wizards and ancient beings, but never do we delve into the private lives of these characters.

In this book, I found it comforting to slow down and learn about this unique character at a leisurely pace.

It’s a very intriguing read.

Available from The Ravens Parlour Book Store, Tanunda.

Todd Kuchell

contributor // The barossa mag
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