Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004)

Author: Susanna Clark | Page Count: 846 Pages

"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange.
Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could."

These days, any story involving a wizard will inevitably be compared to Harry Potter, but Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell reminds me more of the whimsical works of Diana Wynne Jones than anything else. One part alternative history novel, one part realistic magic tale, Jonathan Strange is frustrating and incredibly satisfying at the same time. It's a long book and an extremely slow read- many times, when the story starts to pick up, you're distracted by a barrage of foot notes. But for me, that doesn't really matter. Clark's prose is wonderfully witty, and the world she creates is incredibly immersive.

It's not the sort of book I can read over and over. At times, it feels more like a very well written text book than a piece of fictions. But on the right days, it hits the spot like nothing else. It's just pitch perfect world building, and funny in a way few books these days are. If you enjoy the works of authors like Mervyn Peake and are a reasonably patient person, then Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell is a must read.

4 girls with fanciful names getting married out of 5.

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