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The year is winding down, and as my holiday break approaches, my reading is ramping up. I've got about 20 books on hold at the library and am eager to spend some time off, curled up on the couch, getting lost.

One author I'm excited to dig deeper into over the holidays is Susanna Clarke. I just finished her newest novel, Piranesi, and found myself unable to put it down. Piranesi is one of those books that you can't read right before bed, because you'll lie awake all night thinking about it and questioning reality.

Author Susanna Clarke

The novel follows the titular character, Piranesi, whose entire world (the House, as he has named it) consists of an endless series of rooms filled with statues - think the Classical halls of the Louvre, but overtaken by the forces of nature. Birds nest among the statues, the ocean itself has taken over the ground floor, coating various statues with barnacles, and an endless sky is visible from the windows. Piranesi has appointed himself a researcher of sorts, mapping out every square inch of the House, determined to find its end point. He calculates the tides to know which rooms to avoid and when, and shares his research twice a week with the only other human around, named the Other.

The Other does not share the wonder Piranesi has for the House. His well-tailored suits, his trim beard and neat appearance are so contrasted against Piranesi's ragged, salt-decayed clothing and bare feet. But Piranesi's innocence, his adoration for the place he calls home, and his good-natured, steward's spirit are a part of what makes this book so magical. He befriends the birds, visits his favorite statues regularly, and speaks with the reader as though they're a beloved friend.

It wouldn't be a great book without a plot twist, a villain and a hero, so I'll save you the heartache and finish my review here. I am so excited to read more by Susanna Clarke. Her writing is absolutely heart-wrenching, and her gift for imagery and world-building is remarkable. Piranesi is one of the most gorgeous books I have read this year, and I hope you'll give it a read this holiday season!

Happy reading!


P.S. Cover image from the Chicago Review of Books

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