The Other calls him Piranesi, but he’s fairly certain that isn’t his name. But he’s not sure what else it could be, so he supposes that will do for now. Piranesi is alone (except for the Other) in the House, made up of infinite Halls and Antechambers and Vestibules, populated by only the fish and birds and massive, incredible statues. Oh, and 13 skeletons.
Piranesi spends his days fishing, exploring, documenting, and tending to the House. There are Tides to calculate and seaweed to gather and dry. He is the Beloved Child of the House. He is content. The Other, however, is in search of a Great and Secret Knowledge, which he believes to be somewhere in the House. Piranesi, ever the scientist, eagerly gathers data to aid the Other in his quest.
And then, one day, Piranesi meets someone else in the House.
Everything he knows is wrong. Suddenly he is not so sure that the Other is his friend.
Aaaand here we have my first five-star of the year!
I’m a sucker for labyrinths. I told my mom as I was reading this that if I had to be stuck anywhere, I’d want to be in a massive labyrinth with lots to explore and document. It just scratches an itch in my soul.
I’ve seen Clarke’s first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, around for forever, but to be brutally honest, I hate reading anything longer than about 400 pages, so I know in my heart it’ll take a lot for me to read it. So when I saw that she’d published another book, one about a labyrinth at that, I knew it was finally time to read her work. Luckily for me, Piranesi is much shorter!
I loved this. I loved the descriptions of the house, I loved the narrator, I loved the way the real world was slowly introduced. I was a little worried that I’d be let down by the way the plot unfurled, but Susanna Clarke took my hand and told me to follow her. Also, my favorite little narrative device is an in-world bibliography, so I was in heaven.
It’s almost enough to convince me to pick up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.