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Review: Piranesi

Updated: Sep 12

5/5 stars

Piranesi, by Susanna Clark (2020)

This book was such a fun mystery to unravel, and just a gorgeous story to dive into.


If you've ever seen the 2000 movie Memento, it sort of reminded me of that. Everything is a bit confusing, the main character may have lost his memory, and you're never quite sure who the bad guys are.


This is definitely one book where you want to know very little going into it - like only what's on the book jacket - so that you can really appreciate and enjoy the way it unfolds. So, I'll keep this review short...


The protagonist, known as Piranesi, though that's probably not his real name, lives in an unending, labyrinthine house of huge marble rooms and halls that are all filled with statues. The house is the entire world. There is also a vast ocean in this world, and it's tides wash in and out of the rooms. There are clouds, and ocean spray, and sea birds. It is an intensely atmospheric place. Piranesi lives to explore and document these rooms, statues, and tides. "The Other" meets with him twice a week to compare research. He and "the Other" are the only people in the world. That is... until evidence of someone else starts popping up, and everything Piranesi has ever known starts to go pear shaped.


The writing is wonderful, the story well plotted, the characters vibrant, though unreliable. Sometimes an unreliable narrator can just feel frustrating to me, but in this case Clark writes the character of Piranesi with such compassion, that figuring things out along with him is very satisfying. It's a weird little book, but don't let that deter you.


A word to the wise: If you want a clue about the direction this book takes, look up who the name "Piranesi" refers to. But I'd suggest only looking that up after you've read the book!

UP NEXT: The Museum of Whales You Will Never See, and Other Excursions

to Iceland's Most Unusual Museums, by A. Kendra Greene


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