adult Books Fantasy Fiction

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – Review

Genre: Fantasy
Published: September 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 1006
My Rating: /5

A piece of writing is like a piece of magic. You create something out of nothing. 

Susanna Clarke

In the early 19th century, it has been many years since magic has been practiced in England. Now magicians are gentlemen who only write and read about magic and no longer practice it themselves. Except for a reclusive Mr Norrell, who is the only known practical magician left in England. When he is sought out by two theoretical magicians to answer the question of why there was no more magic done in England, a series of interesting events unfold. When a new, charming and young magician Jonathan Strange emerges, Mr Norrell is challenged and his ways and beliefs are put to the test. Norrell decides to take Strange under his wing as an apprentice, but they have differing ideas of how magic should be practiced and this threatens their partnership with potentially unpleasant consequences. All the while discovering that the history and practice of magic is much more complex than it seems.

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. 

 Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

I was extremely excited when I was invited to host a JSMN read along with some amazing book bloggers/bookstagrammers. This was my very first read along and of course first time hosting and it was such a fun experience.

I’m not going to lie, when saw the size of the book, I was terrified! This was the longest book I have ever read (not counting my medical textbooks). But the thought of reading it along with others made it feel a lot less daunting. We read at a pretty relaxed pace and it took place over 4 weeks, with weekly book discussions. This was honestly like nothing I have ever read before and it surpassed my expectations. I didnt expect to fall in love with these characters the way I did. I felt everything from shock and awe to sadness and relief. With moments of unexpected humour and sarcasm.

Although it starts slowly, the pace picks up really quickly after we meet Jonathan Strange. The descriptive writing style allows you to develop a clear picture while you are reading. 

I loved the development of the characters and how you are drawn into their lives. You learn that those characters you meet early on the book are not what they may seem. Initially it is difficult to resist the charms of Jonathan Strange in comparison to the reclusive, yet arrogant Norrell. But you soon realize that his adventurous ways and lack of constraint could be to his detriment leading to unpleasant consequences.

I can’t say whether I am a 100% a Strangite or a Norrellite as I think they each have their own strengths and flaws. The footnotes, although extensive at times, adds an extra touch of originality. Even though I am not someone who reads a lot of fantasy, this book has taken me on a journey like no other. As I read the last words and finished the book, I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends. From the very first page up until the last, it truly was unforgettable.

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

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