Posted by Sari
It must be one of if not the most hyped fantasy ever, the buzz has been on at least since Neil Gaiman gave a thumbs up in his blog, and Bloomsbury's harrypotterhoned publicity machine has done a little too good a job about getting the message through: This is it, the Fantasy novel for adults, HP meets Jane Austen.
I am, of course talking about Susanna Clarke's doorstopper of a first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Which is not really Harry Potter meets Jane Austen, but Austen meets Dickens meets Dunsinay meets Mirrilees meets Chesterton meets Stoppard meets... And darn, it is good. I might have liked it even better if my expectations weren't so high to begin with, but even so: darn, it is _good._
For the first few hundred pages, I was a bit sceptical: Austenite language and period in a dickensian plot with a large cast of charicatures instead of characters. Style was exquisite, the invention delightful, but there was no emotional engagement. Oh, and how original: there was a prophesy about magic. But then but after Jonathan Strange made his appearance on the pages, and I was slowly but surely taken into Clarke's intricate, whimsical and totally believable alternative Regency. It turned out to be one of those books you want to live in, not just live with while reading.