by Clarke, Susanna

Living in a labyrinthine house of endless corridors, flooded staircases and thousands of statues, Piranesi assists the dreamlike dwelling's only other resident throughout a mysterious research project before evidence emerges of an astonishing alternate world. 300,000 first printing.

Susanna Clarke is the author of the The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories and the New York Times bestseller and Hugo Award-winning Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. She lives in England.

*Starred Review* In her highly distilled and rarefied first novel since her Hugo Award-winning debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004), Clarke posits another dynamic between a seeming mentor and mentee. But the realm in which their increasingly suspect relationship unspools is a bizarre and baffling one that we encounter through the journals kept by Clarke's earnest, spiritually creative narrator. He doesn't think Piranesi is his name, but that's what he's called by the older man he dubs the Other because he believes they are the only two people left alive. The actual Piranesi was an eighteenth-century Italian artist who created etchings of monumental and menacing architectural labyrinths, and, indeed, the exceedingly strange world Clarke has invented for her Piranesi, a self-described scientist and explorer, is a vast maze inexplicably populated by birds and gigantic statues and through which tides rise and fall, smashing against the walls. Threadbare Piranesi lives a spare, precarious existence, a noble innocent who believes that he has "a duty to bear witness to the splendors of the World," while the Other, clearly prosperous and busy tapping at his "shining device," is obsessed with seizing the power of "Great and Secret Knowledge." As questions multiply and suspense mounts in this spellbinding, occult puzzle of a fable, one begins to wonder if perhaps the reverence, kindness, and gratitude practiced by Clarke's enchanting and resilient hero aren't all the wisdom one truly needs.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Clarke's international sensation, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, also a BBC series, has engendered an enormous fan base eagerly awaiting her new book. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

The much-anticipated second novel from the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004). The narrator of this novel answers to the name "Piranesi" even though he suspects that it's not his name. This name was chosen for him by the Other, the only living person Piranesi has encountered during his extensive explorations of the House. Readers who recognize Piranesi as the name of an Italian artist known for his etchings of Roman ruins and imaginary prisons might recognize this as a cruel joke that the Other enjoys at the expense of the novel's protagonist. It is that, but the name is also a helpful clue for readers trying to situate themselves in the world Clarke has created. The character known as Piranesi lives within a Classical structure of endless, inescapable halls occasionally inundated by the sea. These halls are inhabited by statues that seem to be allegories—a woman carrying a beehive; a dog-fox teaching two squirrels and two satyrs; two children laughing, one of them carrying a flute—but the meaning of these images is opaque. Piranesi is happy to let the statues simply be. With her second novel, Clarke invokes tropes that have fueled a century of surrealist and fantasy fiction as well as movies, television series, and even video games. At the foundation of this story is an idea at least as old as Chaucer: Our world was once filled with magic, but the magic has drained away. Clarke imagines where all that magic goes when it leaves our world and what it would be like to be trapped in that place. Piranesi is a naif, and there's much that readers understand before he does. But readers who accompany him as he learns to understand himself will see magic returning to our world. Weird and haunting and excellent. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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