“Perhaps even people you like and admire immensely can make you see the World in ways you would rather not.”
Originally published in 2020, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke follows Piranesi whose house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls, an ocean is imprisoned. Waves thunder up staircases, and rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house — a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
It has been a very long time since I’ve read or watched something and then immediately had to search for theories to see how others interpreted something, and I absolutely love when that happens!
Piranesi is a mysterious, thought-provoking, unique, hypnotic and utterly fascinating story with beautiful world building and mind-blowing storytelling.
I really didn’t think I was going to like it at first. The first 80 pages or so build up Piranesi’s world but it feels so detached from everything we know that I couldn’t understand how I was going to engage with it more. But every review I had read beforehand warned me to keep with it, so I kept my mind open.
And wow, the places this book goes. One minute it makes little sense, and the next it makes all the sense in all the worlds. I’m sure a lot of it has gone over my head. I’m sure my interpretation of it is completely different to most’s. And I’m sure there is so much more going on that I didn’t pick up on to appreciate more. But I think that’s why so many people are loving this book, because it’s all about how you connect with it.
Of course, this book isn’t going to be for everyone because it does feel very sophisticated and very ambiguous. I’m not even sure what genre I would place it in. I was expecting it to be about mythology, which is obviously weaved in. But the way that I have interpreted the story actually has more elements of a dark thriller than anything else. But wherever it falls, I loved it.
All I can say is that you have to read it. At only 250 pages long, it’s easy to read in one sitting, but it is definitely one that deserves your undivided attention and one that you may have to struggle through a little bit at first! But if you’re looking for something different, you won’t get any more original than Piranesi.
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