Genre: Fantasy with a bit of Austen-esque parlor dialogue

Notes:Book 5/50.  I need to stop reading 800 page books.

Review: Oh my god.  I want to crawl inside this book and live in it forever. It’s fantastic and probably one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. As I mentioned previously,Jonathan Strangeis over 800 pages.  But I would have gladly read more if there had been more to read.

This book tells the story of two English magicians in the 1800s as they delve into the practical magic that hasn’t been seen in England for centuries.  The two magicians couldn’t be more different – Norrell is careful, calculating, and does all he can to be England’s only magician while Strange finds himself pulled to the darker, more sinister types of magic.

If this plot soundsLord of the Rings-esque,think again.  The best way I can describe this novel is Austen-esque.  The book reads like a gothic novel and builds slowly, in parlors and at dinner parties.

While the magicians dabble in weak weather magic and  generally elementary stuff, the man with the thistledown hair wreaks havoc.  Mr. Norrell made a deal with him for Lady Pole’s life – in his quest for power and to be the only magician in England, he basically sells her to life of servitude in Fairie. She lives half of her life in England and gets spirited away at night to dance in awful balls in Fairie every single night.  She walks around in a stupor because she never sleeps, and if anyone asks about her condition, she only speaks nonsense due to a powerful charm that prevents her from asking for help.

I don’t really know how else to describe this book other than lovely.  It’s so different.  It’s extremely well-researched and reads like a historical novel rather than fantasy.  Clarke includes extensive footnotes that are almost as interesting as the novel itself.  From reading other reviews, you either love or hate the footnotes.  I (clearly) loved then because it gave me the feel of an academic text and if you know me at all, you know that I still harbor some belief that fairies exist and magic isn’t all made up. It feels more legit.

An 800 page novel deserves more of a review, but honestly, you’ll just have to check it out yourself!

Bottom Line: This book demands patience.  And, honestly, it might be a book only a book lover can enjoy.  If you hated the British Lit you read in school (Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, etc) you probably won’t like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  And yes, I realize that sounded really pretentious.

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