Wednesday, 13 May 2015

REVIEW - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke


Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Centuries ago, when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic.
Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats.
But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.


In the days before the invention of the Kindle (other e-readers are available!!) I read this massive tome, should I say massive and heavy tome, I can't even remember where I bought it, I may have actually walked in to a shop and bought it rather than click click click on the Amazon site.

Many years have passed since I read this book but I still love this cover, it is incredibly striking and it is up there with some of my favourite covers ever.

The story itself is epic, I mean my original copy came in at 700 odd pages, it is vast so this review won't do it justice. 

Set in 19th century England it is the story of two men, Mr Norrell and Mr Strange.  Magic has long gone from the country, it has not been seen for centuries not until Mr Norrell manages to display his magical skill and sends shock waves of excitement through the country.  

He is not alone, brilliant young magician Jonathan Strange appears on the scene.  He and Strange come together to try and "reboot" the magical world but they are like chalk and cheese, Strange is arrogant and outgoing, Norrell is cautious and a little fussy, the story follows their lives as they achieve amazing feats and fall deeper in to the world of magic discovering the dark arts.

This story won't be for everyone, but I fell in love with it, it has page after page of wonderfully imagined scenes, particularly the one where a flotilla of ships is created to scare the French.   

This magical epic takes the reader on an amazing journey through the world of Strange and Norrell, it has not aged at all and best of all it has been made in to a series by the BBC!






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