Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

When I saw Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell at my library I did second guess whether I should pick it up or not. At 1006 pages it's the longest book I've ever read and actually finished *pats self on back*. You all know that magical fiction is my thing and combined with a historical fiction it's like my two favourite genres have gotten together to throw a party. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell did not disappoint, but it wasn't entirely what I was expecting either.

Set over a twenty year period, (hence the length!) the book centres around the last two magicians in England - Mr Norrell who believes magic should be studied and learned from books and aims to make English magic respectable once more and Jonathan Strange whose powers are revealed to him by a dirty looking vagabond hiding under a hedge.

The best part of this book for me was the relationship between Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I quite enjoyed their differences of personality and found Jonathan Strange to be quite the humorous character. Rather than this book being focused on one major event the novel stretches out over two decades which does make the plot feel like more of a meander than a fast paced adventure, the latter being what I would usually expect.

I definitely think that for fans of fantasy and magical fiction this might be a polarising read. I almost enjoyed it more for its prose which reads a bit like a classical novel probably more than the actual magic, which I know will be off-putting for some. Overly though I found Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell a really enjoyable book but it's somewhat unnecessary length stopped it from being brilliant.

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