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Review: Piranesi

Title: Piranesi
Author: Susanna Clarke
Genre: Fantasy, Literary Fiction
Page Count: 272
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date Published: September 15, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


A home made of stone with infinite rooms and infinite halls, in which the bottom floors house the ocean and the top floors house the weather. There are crumbled corridors, fresh water lakes with fish, deadly tides that can rise the staircases at any moment, and rather than filled with living people this strange home is stuffed with an infinite number of stone statues. 

This is the place that Piranesi calls home. He and “The Other” are the only living people in residence. Once a week Piranesi meets with The Other to conduct research, seeking out The Great Knowledge that they believe to be located somewhere inside. The Great Knowledge may allow them to control minds of lesser beings, telecommunicate, control the weather, and many other potential possibilities.

As Piranesi explores these infinite halls, he begins to discover possible evidence that there may be another living person. Shifting his focus from hunting for The Great Knowledge to finding information on this other person, all his truths begin to unravel … maybe there are worlds behind the one he has always known.


Oh Piranesi, you are such an odd little book. In fact, I’m not sure if I am totally smart enough to grasp all that I just read … I know there are metaphors wrapped up in the statues chosen to be described that I missed, but that didn’t stop me from soaking up your delicious pages like a sponge.

I can see why Piranesi is sold as a book for fans of Erin Morgenstern – especially The Starless Sea – and Neil Gaiman. Susanna Clarke has captured such a weird, mesmerizing exploration of what a novel and story, can really be. Carving out literary space that didn’t exist before, while also exploring a well worn conversation – the existence of alternate, magical worlds accessible through earthly portals. If that concept appeals to you, if you are a fan of the above authors, or if whacky and weird best describe your favourite novels, you need to check Piranesi out.

Written in journal style from Piranesi’s perspective, this wonderfully eccentric little book won’t be for everyone, but will likely become a new favourite for those readers who seek the odd, the singular, and the imaginative journey that a powerfully talented storyteller can take you on. Lyrical, transcending, and quite haunting this little book is at times eerie, at times mystery/thriller, a puzzle to decipher and a conversation on the human condition to survive and belong. Piranesi is as absolutely hypnotizing. 

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