Oh my goodness, I really loved this. Not even sure what genre to put it in. Fantasy, I guess, but also alternate realities, so maybe science fiction? Anyhow, that’s a bookshop owners’ dilemma and not mine, so I will just classify it as wonderful.
Piranesi, a young man, has been the sole living inhabitant of the House as far back as he remembers. The House is multi-leveled, multi-winged, and open to the air, the weather, and the sea. Its vast rooms contain only massive statues (Piranesi’s favorite is The Woman Carrying a Beehive) but they are all wonderful to his mind. His mission is to meticulously chart the rooms and halls of the House, as well as the natural phenomena, and it is well he does so, for he knows when the floods will come and from where, and how high he has to be to be safe. He shares the House with the sea life swept in by the floods, and the various flocks of birds, both resident and migratory. And then there is the Other.
The Other, a man older than himself and always impeccably dressed, meets with him in a designated room twice a week. He occasionally brings Piranesi essentials such as new shoes, or plastic bowls, but never fails to keep him supplied with journals and writing implements. Piranesi’s duty is to keep scrupulous records of his explorations, in order to aid the Other in their joint scientific endeavor, trying to unlock the Ritual. But years have gone by, and the Other’s visits are more perfunctory, and now there is another person that has entered the House, leaving messages spelt out in pebbles, warning Piranesi that he is in danger.
The mystery of who Piranesi and the Other are, and how he came to the House, are gradually revealed, but for me, I would have been just as happy to visit Piranesi in his glorious world without the mystery being ever solved.