Book review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi is a fantasy book that has you guessing throughout. Piranesi, though he’s sure that’s not his name, lives in a large house with many corridors and rooms with walls lined with thousands of statues. There is only one other person in this house: The Other.

Piranesi book review
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Piranesi is a fascinating book to read. It’s told from the point of view of Piranesi who tells us of the life he lives in a house with many rooms, many corridors and many statues, as I mentioned above. However, everything isn’t as it seems…

Plot – 5/5

Piranesi lives to explore this vast house he lives in. He travelled far and wide, he has seen many statues and he has explored so much of this place he finds himself in. Twice a week he meets with the only other person who lives in this palace – The Other. They discuss their research and findings on this place.

Piranesi keeps a diary through which we are presented most of this story, however, he soon begins to realise that there are diary entries he doesn’t remember writing and diary entries further on than his own made-up calendar has seen him come to yet.

The plot of Piranesi is utterly fascinating. Susanna Clarke slowly drops little teasers at us that keep you hooked throughout. There’s definitely a sense that The Other isn’t telling Piranesi everything he knows about this place and soon enough we realise there’s far more to this place than Piranesi has been led to believe. As I said, this just had me absolutely hooked throughout. The way Clarke writes this as well makes it all feel so intelligent and is worded so smartly that nothing is ever obviously given away.

Characters – 4/5 

Piranesi himself is a fascinating character. He’s clearly incredibly kind and pure. His decisions are based on a false sense of understanding of this place he finds himself in. He presumes the absolute best of The Other and assumes that he means the absolute best for him. He’s quick to trust and difficult to sway. His viewpoints are fascinating too as he’s clearly so falsely blinded into believing the environment he finds himself in.

Without giving away too much of the plot, The Other is a mysterious character who we pick up very early on that he isn’t telling Piranesi everything he should know. We as readers suspect him of being fake and it’s such a shame to see Piranesi believing everything he says. We find out more about The Other as the story progresses and my opinion of him definitely switched up throughout.

Piranesi summary – 5/5

I absolutely loved Piranesi. I loved Susanna Clarke’s intelligent way of telling the story in feeding us small hints of more to come but never giving too much away to a point where you can guess where it is going. It’s a book that leaves you wanting to keep picking it up again and a book that I’d definitely recommend to those who love a mystery.

Though this features fantastical elements and is classified as a fantasy book, it may not be the sort of fantasy that a lot of lovers of that genre would expect – there are no fantastical creatures or odd cultures – simply the environment Piranesi and The Other find themselves in is made up.

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