Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2020)
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

245 pages, Hardcover

First published September 15, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Susanna Clarke

34 books8,046 followers
Susanna Clarke was born in Nottingham in 1959. A nomadic childhood was spent in towns in Northern England and Scotland. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and has worked in various areas of non-fiction publishing, including Gordon Fraser and Quarto. In 1990, she left London and went to Turin to teach English to stressed-out executives of the Fiat motor company. The following year she taught English in Bilbao.

She returned to England in 1992 and spent the rest of that year in County Durham, in a house that looked out over the North Sea. There she began working on her first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

From 1993 to 2003, Susanna Clarke was an editor at Simon and Schuster's Cambridge office, where she worked on their cookery list. She has published seven short stories and novellas in US anthologies. One, "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," first appeared in a limited-edition, illustrated chapbook from Green Man Press. Another, "Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower," was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award in 2001.

She lives in Cambridge with her partner, the novelist and reviewer Colin Greenland.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
96,148 (46%)
4 stars
75,968 (36%)
3 stars
27,380 (13%)
2 stars
6,411 (3%)
1 star
1,904 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32,646 reviews
Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
February 5, 2022
“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”
First of all, for those who - like me - read the blurb for this book, noted the mention of “the house with the ocean imprisoned in it” and automatically assumed that “Piranesi” has something to do with piranhas (because ocean = fish, right?) — yeah, that’s certainly not what the story is about. Regrettably, there’s not a single piranha in sight.
This is like a dream, slow, strange and intensely atmospheric, unbelievably immersive and engrossing. Imagine a labyrinthine partially ruined “House” with endless procession of interconnected enormous Halls and Vestibules, with bottom levels flooded by the ocean somehow held inside, and top layers covered in thick clouds, with enormous marble staircases covered by clashing Tides, and thousands upon thousands of marble statues. No entrances or exits, just the House that is the World, both decrepitude and perfection.
“I am determined to explore as much of the World as I can in my lifetime. To this end I have travelled as far as the Nine-Hundred-and-Sixtieth Hall to the West, the Eight-Hundred-and-Ninetieth Hall to the North and the Seven-Hundred-and-Sixty-Eighth Hall to the South. I have climbed up to the Upper Halls where Clouds move in slow procession and Statues appear suddenly out of the Mists. I have explored the Drowned Halls where the Dark Waters are carpeted with white water lilies. I have seen the Derelict Halls of the East where Ceilings, Floors – sometimes even Walls! – have collapsed and the dimness is split by shafts of grey Light.”

It’s not a dead world. There are birds and fish and remains of thirteen humans, and two living ones - the Other, a man who visits our narrator for hour-long appointments twice a week on the search for mysterious Knowledge, a man clearly of the world that is similar to our own, and our narrator who the Other refers to as Piranesi, although “Piranesi” knows that it’s not his name.
“Since the World began it is certain that there have existed fifteen people. Possibly there have been more; but I am a scientist and must proceed according to the evidence. Of the fifteen people whose existence is verifiable, only Myself and the Other are now living.”

Piranesi has no memory of ever being anywhere else. He has always been here, or at least from 2012 and until the Year the Albatross Came to the South-Western Halls. He is the Beloved Child of the House, worshipful of its beauty and kindness, grateful for the survival it allows him, full of wondrous innocence and remarkable naïveté to the point where you fervently hope that he indeed loses some of that innocence before it’s too late. And you know that things are wrong. You know he has not always been here. You know from everything he refers to that his world used to be much bigger than the enormous half-derelict labyrinthine House.
“I realised that the search for the Knowledge has encouraged us to think of the House as if it were a sort of riddle to be unravelled, a text to be interpreted, and that if ever we discover the Knowledge, then it will be as if the Value has been wrested from the House and all that remains will be mere scenery.
The sight of the One-Hundred-and-Ninety-Second Western Hall in the Moonlight made me see how ridiculous that is. The House is valuable because it is the House. It is enough in and of Itself. It is not the means to an end.”
It’s the story of kindness and gratitude. It’s the story of loneliness and solitude and isolation. It’s the story of reverence and contemplation, ingenuity and survival, innocence and evil, curiosity and contentment. It’s a story rooted in living in the present because the past is nonexistent, untroubled by the questions of identity, resistant to egotistical impulses - because Piranesi seems to know exactly who he is, the “Beloved Child of the House”. Even the harshest things that happen to him seem to have a silver lining through his attitude of acceptance and gratitude.
“It occurs to me that there are many other ideas that I understand perfectly, even though no such things exist in the World.”

Piranesi’s acceptance of his life is quietly unsettling, his innocence frustrating, his equanimity troubling, his obliviousness infuriating, his kindness at times disturbing, his adaptability admirable, and his content lack of curiosity puzzling. And the further you read the more your apprehension grows. The House is a sanctuary and a prison at the same time, both beckoning and terrifying at the same time. After all, his historical namesake Piranesi was known for his “Imaginary Prisons” etchings - no, not coincidental at all.
“Batter-Sea is not a word,’ I said at last. ‘It has no referent. There is nothing in the World corresponding to that combination of sounds.”

And so the entire story fluctuates between seductive and devastating, and remains quietly memorable. It’s a puzzle and a treasure, fragile yet powerful, and a meditation on life in a curiously small universe.

The point of this story for me was not the mystery of the house or of Piranesi’s identity; the clues are there and it’s not too hard to figure most of it out rather early on. No, the strength is the strange world that Clarke creates so vividly that I felt that I was walking the Halls and avoiding the Tides and listening to the messages the House sends and catching a glimpse of the Moon along with Piranesi. His hypnotic voice - the voice of the timeless scientist - transported me fully into this strange orderly confusion and left me spellbound. And that was the spell I did not want to end.

The magic exists. And somewhere there may be a place where you can finally be at peace. Maybe. Depending on what you can give up. Depending if you feel trapped or free in your own personal labyrinth.

Gentle and quiet and powerful.

4 stars.
“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Yun.
509 reviews19.1k followers
January 18, 2022
Umm, is that it?

Ok, let me start by first apologizing to everyone who loves this book. Obviously, I'm an outlier and my thoughts here are decidedly in the minority. So if you feel differently, please don't throw rotten vegetables at me.

Going into Piranesi, I had heard nothing but great things about it. How it's riveting and unputdownable. How no one had ever seen a story like this before. How the twist is going to blow my mind. Unfortunately, none of those turned out to be true for me.

For one thing—and please forgive for saying this—I just don't find endless descriptions of halls, statues, vestibules, tides, fish, and birds to be that interesting. I know, I can't believe I just admitted such a thing publicly. But that is the majority of this book! It was tolerable for the first thirty pages, when I worked hard to read and reread each description slowly so that I may keep straight every hall, statue, vestibule, tide, fish, and bird encountered. But I soon grew tired and just proceeded to read without retaining.

And it wouldn't be a big deal if the only issue with this book is its excessive descriptions. After all, I've read plenty of books like that and still eked out some enjoyment. But here, the descriptions are in combination with writing I couldn't make heads or tails of. I'll be honest, I barely understood most of the sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, no matter how much I concentrated or how many times I reread it.

So what's the problem? Well, for me, I just don't see a point to reading like that. When the writing is such that it isn't meant to be understood or remembered, but rather just skimmed to reach the end, then why am I even reading it? Sure, I wiled away some time turning the pages, but I ultimately come away unchanged, and for me, that is the worst result a story can achieve.

For such a short book, this sure was a slog. Lots of readers report reading it in one sitting because they couldn't put it down. It took me three days of dedicated reading time to get through it. Every time I put it down, I had no urge to pick it back up. The only reason I kept going is the promise of that great twist.

And here, my expectations were wrong too. For me, a twist means that the story is leading the reader in one direction, but then a development happens that takes the story in a completely different, unforeseen direction. Thus, the reader is surprised. But that didn't happen here. This book clearly leads you in one direction, and the reveal is exactly what you would expect from it.

Perhaps if you didn't know the book's genre going in (not sure how you'd be able to swing that though), this development would come as a surprise. But it's a fairly common concept. So to prevent the reader from figuring things out early, the book is written such that it maximumly obscures everything. Keeping the reader in this haze-like, confused state for as long as possible is the goal of this story.

And when we do reach the end, no actual explanation of the logistics are given. The how's and why's are just handwaved away. I don't mind being taken for a ride, but the destination had better be worth it. And it wasn't here. I expected creative and original, but I only ended up with derivative and unsatisfying.

I know not every book is for every reader, and this one definitely isn't for me. I marvel at stories that take complex and intricate ideas and turn them into something easily understood. This is the opposite. It takes a fairly simple concept that's been done many times before and somehow manages to turn it into the most obscure and confounding tale. No, thank you.
Profile Image for Elle.
584 reviews1,295 followers
June 19, 2021
I almost DNFed this one, and maybe I should have, but in the end I wanted to be able to fully review this book and I don’t think it’s fair to do that only having read half of it.

This is a book that falls into a category I’ve come to describe as for A Certain Kind of Reader®. Maybe that’s a phrase you’ve heard before, but for me it namely means that most readers will not like it, but a segment of them will LOVE it. If you’re a Bestsellers reader, you probably won’t like this. If you’re a Book Club reader, you probably won’t like this. If you’re a Genre reader (fantasy, thriller, etc.) you probably won’t like this.

Who will like this? Readers who do not mind wandering around aimlessly through the first 100 pages of a 250 page book. Also, most likely readers who enjoy the types of literary fiction that can be alienating to the average person. I’m not trying to be dismissive of these books, I read and like some of them! But I‘ll sheepishly admit that I sometimes feel like I’m too dumb to understand other ones, and I wonder if some are so abstract and inaccessible by design.

So what’s the deal with Piranesi? Basically there’s a guy in tunnels? Or caves? That’s just incurably confused and doesn’t know it. He’s unreliable as a narrator, but he’s also extremely boring. The labyrinth he finds himself in is somewhat more interesting, but he spends most of his time studying tides or talking to birds, then writing it all down. Reading this was a good deal more frustrating than it was fascinating for me, unfortunately. I got about halfway and honestly did not want to keep reading. Yes, things are eventually uncovered and revealed, but the journey to get there was just nooooot worth it.

I can’t remember reading a book so short that was also way too long. I saw someone mention this should be a novella—I fully support that! You could cut the length in half and essentially lose nothing important. I wish I had read the author’s other book so I could compare this to it, but I have not. And based off of the length of that one and how long this felt, I don’t know if I’m up for it. Additionally, Piranesi was compared to Madeline Miller—I do not see that comparison AT ALL. I loved Circe and The Song of Achilles and do not understand what the two have in common, except, maybe Clarke references Greek mythology? The writing styles are completely different.

That said, Piranesi continues to have a really high rating on Goodreads, so who knows! Maybe check out some other reviews as there are plenty of positive ones to choose from. I’m sure Susanna Clarke is doing something very unique and probably clever here, but I’m just not clicking with it. Maybe you’re exactly this book’s Certain Kind of Reader.

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for oyshik.
207 reviews656 followers
July 15, 2021
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Strange, unique, and enjoyable. To be honest, starting didn't go well for me as I couldn't connect myself to the story or the world. But later it turned into a captivating story. Impressive worldbuilding, engaging characters, and excellent storytelling. It's a definitely unique and enjoyable read.
It does not matter that you do not understand the reason. You are the Beloved Child of the House. Be comforted.

Strange beautiful story.
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 65 books167k followers
October 5, 2020
Well, I guess it is time to say that Susanna Clarke's slender little PIRANESI is my favorite novel of possibly the last five years.

I could write spoilery essays upon essays about its use of metaphor for ambition, identity, religion.

I'm so delighted.

If my novella "Opal" drove you batty, it might also drive you batty for similar reasons, but personally, it gave me everything I wanted.

I don't want to say too much more because the beauty of this puzzle box is in the opening, but highly recommended (with an exhortation to persist through the confusion of the first 10 pages or so).
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
October 8, 2021
A second fantasy novel from the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell — finally!! It's excellent, and VERY different from Jonathan Strange (for one thing, it's less than 250 pages). Review first posted on Fantasy Literature (along with my co-reviewer Bill's excellent review, which I reference a couple of times below):

I have to say I was a smidgen disappointed to get to the end of Piranesi and not have seen a single footnote (I’m quite fond of all of the quasi-scholarly, tongue-in-cheek footnotes in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell). But that was my only disappointment with this transcendent novel.

An etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 18th century Italian artist

Piranesi, who narrates this story through his journal entries, is the sole living inhabitant of a labyrinthine, half-ruined building he calls the House. He also calls it the World, which in a very real sense it is for him: he has no memory of living anywhere except in the House, which is an endless series of halls and vestibules, with no entrances or exits, where ocean waves and floods beset the lower levels but also provide him with life-preserving food, tools, and fuel. It’s reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges’ The Library of Babel, except with awe-inspiring statues in every room rather than (near)infinite books, as well as Borges’ “The House of Asterion.” Piranesi has found a baker’s dozen of human skeletons in the House, which he religiously cares for, but the only other living person he has seen there is the man he calls the Other, who visits with him briefly twice a week and irritably quizzes him on his explorations of the House.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Piranesi — the character as well as the book itself — is a riddle (who is he?), wrapped in a mystery (why is he in the House, and what does the Other have to do with it?), inside an enigma (what is the House?). I felt compelled to pencil notes in the margins of my brand-new hardcover copy of Piranesi (“Minotaurs!”) and mark key passages. Note-taking did have the benefit of slowing me down and making me think more deeply about the layered mysteries, the symbols and allusions and ironies. Piranesi’s and (when it’s revealed) the Other’s names, like Clarke’s suggestive epigraphs at the beginning of the novel, are clues that readers may or may not want to pursue before getting deeper into the book. (I would absolutely love to be a student in Bill’s class on Piranesi!)

For as Bill comments, there’s a delight in simply inhabiting the House with Piranesi. It’s a beautifully described world, and Piranesi is a wonderful companion, brimful with good-hearted innocence, trust, and a joyous sense of wonder. His harmony with nature and his selflessness are inspiring, as when he gives up a large chunk of his precious store of dried seaweed (which is both food and fuel to him) so that a pair of albatrosses can build a nest.
It approximated to three days’ fuel. This was no insignificant amount and I knew that I might be colder because I had given it away. But what is a few days of feeling cold compared to a new albatross in the World?
To get too caught up in the details and the whys and hows of the ever-present, looming mysteries is to risk diluting the ability to immerse yourself in Piranesi’s hauntingly beautiful life and world. When the answers begin to be disclosed, it’s fascinating but at the same time a dose of the mundane, bringing the ineffable, at least partially, down to earth. The latter part of the book shifts tone to more of a suspense novel, with some heart-pounding moments of tension and danger. But then, there’s a marvelous ending that brings us full circle, back to that initial sense of wonder and awe.
In my mind are all the tides, their seasons, their ebbs and their flows. In my mind are all the halls, the endless procession of them, the intricate pathways. … The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.
It’s a testament to the power of Clarke’s storytelling that those lines almost brought me to tears. Piranesi is an extraordinary and thoughtful novel with radiant writing, illuminating our own lives.
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
477 reviews37.7k followers
June 13, 2022
The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite. aka The Mind of Ellias is broken; his Soul fucking fullfilled!!!!!!!!!!!!

The way I cannot begin to express or even put into mere words on how this book made me feel....literally immeasureable and inconsolable!!!!

It honestly felt like a missing part of a dream, sequenced away to savor and find for later. This missing piece? A callback to that wonderful and comforting nostalgia- our childhood's wildest untamed dreams and imagination, back to when anything was possible. Dear reader, this was a fucking feast of unfettered joy and a brimming capsule of a callback to our childhood selves in its purest and most undulated form. The best of the best. Maybe perhaps, we still can do all the things we imagined ourselves to be and want to do. All because of this said book? Hell fucking yeah.

A new brilliant favorite. Piranesi, you and the House will always have my heart.

Twitter | Bookstagram | Youtube |

Watch our full thoughts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUz8A...
Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.3k followers
November 27, 2021
A genre-blending, memorable, and melancholic standalone novel.

This will be a short review. Writing the review for Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is not an easy task. It has taken me five days to write this review, and you might notice that it’s a relatively short review. There are two reasons for this. First, this is a short novel; I’m sure you can finish reading this book within 3-4 hours. Second, it’s due to spoiler reasons; before I started reading Piranesi, I received plenty of advice saying that it’s better to read this book without knowing anything about it. Don’t check any reviews, just dive into it, and I have to agree with this advice. So I’ll keep this review as brief, effective, and spoiler-free as I can.

“Perhaps even people you like and admire immensely can make you see the World in ways you would rather not.”

If you want to know what the story is about, the official blurb did a great job of telling the premise without spoiling anything. And yes, the book is indeed as bizarre as the premise sounds. But this is what made Piranesi difficult for me to review, and it’s also one of the main charms of the book. A huge part of my enjoyment and admiration with Piranesi is attained through every step of navigating the World with Piranesi. The sense of discovery is key, and it must not be tainted. Readers are plunged into Piranesi’s house with infinite rooms, endless corridors, and I won’t lie, the first quarter can be a challenge to read. I had zero ideas what’s going on in the first 50 pages, and in a different situation or reading mood, there’s a good chance I would’ve put it on the DNF pile. But based on what I’ve heard from other readers doing the read-along with me, this is normal and to be expected. Discovering all the mystery together with Piranesi was a delight, and Clarke’s prose—despite the confusing parts, for me—was engaging throughout the whole book.

“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”

I loved Piranesi. The first quarter was hard to get into, but everything after that was wave after wave of revelations and thrill. For such a short book, Piranesi packed a lot of food for thoughts. It’s different from many books I usually read, and it’s a novel that will stick with me. Piranesi has won and been nominated for many awards, and it’s well-deserved. That’s all I can say in this review. Believe me, if you’re interested in this book already, skip reading any review—mine included—and just read the book. Explore everything with Piranesi. Learn about kindness and innocence again together with him.

You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Neeraja, Nicholas, Oliver, ReignBro, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for Lucy Dacus.
89 reviews12.6k followers
March 1, 2022
Delightful. An antidote to the trend of self-serious writing that there's so much of recently. It's a fun and easy read that's compelling, but gets to a depth many less entertaining books wish they could arrive at. Anything involving impossible architecture has me hooked. This was a gift from a friend, and I think I'd recommend it too.
Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,106 followers
September 8, 2021
WINNER of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021

A mindbending, metaphysical, Borgeian capriccio

Piranesi is one intriguing, beautiful puzzle. Opening with an epigraph from The Magician's Nephew the story begins in a huge room lined with marble statues that instantly reminded me of Charn’s Hall of Images. From there, the Narnian easter eggs pile up—fauns, a sinister fellow named Ketterley—but Piranesi is something all its own.

With half-drowned, neverending halls filled with classical statuary, the mysterious setting evokes everything from Olympus to Atlantis to, most clearly, the ‘imaginary prisons’ of 18th-century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

The artist’s namesake is our enigmatic narrator, an amnesiac and sole inhabitant of this watery mythscape, except for one Other who visits occasionally. With his reverent descriptions of ‘the House’, as he calls it, Piranesi is our wide-eyed tour guide through the crumbling labyrinth. His diligent journal-keeping helps us begin to piece together who, and where, he is.

Piranesi has the feeling of an auxiliary work in a much larger fantasy epic, a prequel or origin story written to fill a gap in the mythos—very like The Magician’s Nephew—except the larger epic does not exist (at least not yet?). The world Clarke has conjured is so expansive that it seems impossible that this short book is all there is. And yet, paradoxically, it is perfectly self-contained.

By its nature, the novel becomes less mysterious and thus less magical as it progresses, as all its shadowy clues are brought out into the light. By novel’s end Piranesi’s identity and origins have been revealed and these are prosaic enough to be just slightly underwhelming. But crucially, the novel’s revelations don’t undermine the established characters and world which preceded them, as often happens in this type of story.

And although we find out who is Piranesi, the question remains: What is Piranesi? A meditation, a fable, a thought experiment? Epistemological riddle? Allegory? Homage or critique of the fantasy classics? One visit to these star-lit halls is just not enough to explore its many nooks and niches.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
784 reviews5,394 followers
March 21, 2023
Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction.

I was in a house with many rooms. The sea sweeps through the house. Sometimes it swept over me, but always I was saved.

An infinite labyrinth with an ocean inside, academic murder mysteries, many-worlds theories--Piranesi by Susanna Clarke has it all. This tightly written novel is endlessly engaging and so cinematic it feels more like something I have watched than read, which is blissful as I cannot stop thinking of the endless halls of The House with it’s many statues, changing weather patterns, ocean tides and of course, our friend Piranesi surviving it all. It’s a mixture of the show Lost meets the 90s computer game Myst with a touch of Jorge Luis Borges and some pompous English academics thrown in for good measure. Sure, it’s mostly plot for the sake of plot but it is infinitely fun and mind bending in ways that scratch all the right itches. A delightful meditation on belief and pursuit of knowledge combined with a boldly mysterious investigation into how and why the narrator exists in this surreal world, Piranesi is a sharp and witty adventure you should certainly lose yourself in.

The beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

The story opens to the narrator describing his life in the House. It is an endless labyrinth of ‘Classical architecture stitched together’. These massive halls are filled with an eccentric assortment of statues are full of windows that look out upon the stars and the basement level of halls is flooded though with the tides the water occasionally washes up. The narrator is not alone, there are birds, fish he can catch and eat, and thirteen skeletons who he visits in a near-religious ceremony of food offerings and kind words. There is also The Other, an older man who roams the halls in search of a great power. The two men meet twice a week to discuss what they have discovered, though The Other may not be exactly all he seems, nor the narrator either. The narrator cannot remember life before the House, but keeps a detailed journal of his time there and concludes he must be in his mid thirties and have lived there for several years. The Other has named him Piranesi, after Giovanni Piranesi, an Italian Classical archaeologist, architect, and artist known for drawings of fantastical labyrinths and prisons.

Piranesi has come to know the House by memory and catalogues all he knows about it. He loves the House and feels it, too, loves him. The World feels Complete and Whole, and I, its Child, fit into it seamlessly,’ he writes. He looks upon the statues for guidance and in them finds messages of hope and strength. The House gives him food, gives him weather, gives him purpose even if it is only to serve as the inhabitant of the House. He has adapted to its rhythms, even creating his own calendar around the events of the house--the novel takes place in ‘The Year the Albatross Came to the South-Western Halls’.

This is a novel where not much can be said of the plot without spoiling the really delicious mysteries and the carefully plotted ways they are unveiled. I will do my best to speak obscurely of anything plot related.

Piranesi feels himself compelled to his work by a duty to science and understanding, though this differs from the ways The Other (and, as we learn, many others who seek the House) seeks knowledge about the House. Piranesi believes ‘the House is valuable because it is the House. It is enough in and of Itself. It is not the means to an end.’ He exists for its glory and for him that is enough. For The Other, however--and Lawrence Arne-Sayle--seek knowledge as a means to an end, for power and the glory it brings. While they claim to be ‘doing it for humanity,’ there is an aspect of ‘the ends justify the means’ which they will openly admit. There are many crimes obscured by the mystery of the quest for the House, which distort its glory to Piranesi.
I realised that the search for the Knowledge has encouraged us to think of the House as if it were a sort of riddle to be unravelled, a text to be interpreted, and that if ever we discover the Knowledge, then it will be as if the Value has been wrested from the House and all that remains will be mere scenery.

Much of Piranesi borders on religious belief, though more of a spiritual belief in a natural world than anything. There are many pagan ideas infused into the novel, such as when Piranesi goes to one hall to see what constellations can be seen only to discover the statues appear to be arranged to stare at the moon which is perfectly centered in the hallway window. The date, as noted in his journal, is the ‘twentieth day of the sixth month’: the summer solstice.

What Piranesi has found in his comfortable communion with the House is, it would seem, not unlike the great power some have sought after. There is talk of the ‘old ways’ when humans could speak to nature and nature would speak back and bend to the wishes of humans. It is believed ‘nothing simply vanishes’ and it can be found again. But Piranesi, in his love for the House, already believes it communicates with him. He thanks it for the food it brings, for the shelter it provides, for all its wonders and beauty and kindness. ‘The Tides themselves are full of movement and power so that, while they may not exactly be alive, neither are they not-alive,’ he writes, and that ‘we were drenched, we were numbed, we were blinded, we were deafened; but always we were saved.’ His ways of speaking about the House as if it were a Deity resemble the sort of secrets the Other wishes to obtain but, in all his searching, cannot find it. Because he seeks it and does not simply live it, it cannot be seen. This becomes similar to protecting the environment and the way nature speaks to us when we strive for it. By having ravaged the land for the sake of wealth and power, we have nearly killed it and each other but if we listen to the world and live sustainably we can all thrive.

This becomes a novel about transgressive ideas, though not in the way that many originally thought them to be (repeatedly pointing out that Lawrence was gay solely to demonstrate all the ways he was ‘transgressive in nature’ is pretty uncool of the author though). While thinking outside the norm makes one an outcast, what we discover is that what they were thinking wasn’t odd but the way they would go about using that knowledge and the means to obtain it. The halls are either a curio to be exploited, or something to cherish, and the meaning of them is different for every character. This book gets really sinister, and the way it creeps up on you is almost akin to horror aesthetics.

Piranesi is a wild, twisted and surreal ride that is unfolds so well by constantly teasing insight and toying with tension that it’s nearly impossible to put down. The opening section could easily have been extended with 100 pages of him simply exploring the halls and I would have loved it, so my only real criticism here is that it was a bit too plot heavy when it could have breathed more. But I so enjoyed living in the images in my head--the atmosphere of this novel is fantastic and will bring you to such stunning places. This is a really fun and fascinating look at the pursuit of knowledge and how sometimes it goes too far and for the wrong reasons. A really worthwhile weekend read, you will definitely want to get lost in the halls of the House.


May your Paths be safe, your Floors unbroken and may the House fill your eyes with Beauty.
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
450 reviews151 followers
January 23, 2023
I rarely write bad reviews but this was one of the most boring and repetitive books I've ever read.


And blah blah blah...

So goddamn boring, tedious and overhyped.

This is the kind of book that puts me in a slump!

I understand I'm in the minority here, most people have given this five stars - God knows why.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,510 reviews31k followers
January 16, 2021
this story reminded me of ‘house of leaves,’ in the most oddly beautiful way.

the beginning is tediously meticulous, just as the MC is, and i wasnt sure i was enjoying it. but over time, the strange, mythical, and quite sad nature of the story really starts to come through. i was actually quite stunned by how attached to piranesi i got and how melancholic the ending made me.

im not sure what else i can say except this was a pleasant surprise.

4 stars
Profile Image for Ilenia Zodiaco.
260 reviews12.9k followers
February 7, 2021
Che intreccio magnificamente architettato. è rinfrancante sapere che c'è ancora qualche autore interessato a usare i marchingegni della scrittura per qualcosa di più stimolante che creare metafore ardite e autoreferenziali quindi inutili (e spesso brutte).

Un piano ingegnoso quello della Clarke, che rivela anche uno studio del mondo classico, della mitologia e della filosofia. Eppure l'ambientazione non è la canonica costruzione dei setting fantasy. Ci dobbiamo immaginare non tanto il progetto dettagliato di un edificio quanto più la planimetria di un labirinto: l'intenzione è quella di evocare un mondo lontano, nascosto ma familiare. In altre parole: lo devi sognare, non abitare.

È sicuramente più un mistery che un fantasy, d'altronde. Esiste un mondo fantastico? Sì. Ma è più un enigma filosofico che un mondo da esplorare.

Peccato per il finale un po' sbrindellato.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,133 reviews39.3k followers
September 4, 2022
Is it possible not to suffer from claustrophobia when you’re reading a story make you feel trapped in a palace consists of endless labyrinth of halls and vestibules? Nope, you cannot.

This book is a complex, challenging puzzle you need to solve and it takes so much mental, intellectual energy to get involved into story. The author’s storytelling technique is unique and after waiting for eternity to read her second work, she can honestly surprise us with different genre choices and dazzling writing style. It seems like it’s the interpretation of Myth and Labyrinth but trust me it was so much more of that. ( more mind bending, dazzling, twisty)

We just keep witnessing strange encounters throughout our reading journey including elephant carries a castle, squatting gorilla, a faun keeps smiling, chess lover kings: all of them symbolize something with deeper meaning.

Piranesi is the main character of the story who lives a life in a watery, murky labyrinth without questioning his own past or present, choosing the ignorance as a bliss. Being trapped in a dungeon or a prison with endless halls never makes him push to find a way to get out. He thinks he’s living by himself, all alone till some signs show otherwise.

It was truly so much different from Jonathan Strange’s story. There is nothing in common with both books. So if you dream to read something similar from the author’s previous work, you may be disappointed.

This book is intense, needing so much effort and patience to enjoy the symbolic literature taste and in my opinion even though you may see some resemblances with the myth, it’s not a retelling. Its genre is also indecisive, mythology, mystery, absurd dark comedy and partly retelling genres are blended into was his other.

It is smart, it exhaust you, burn your brain cells but thankfully it’s not long, boring or repetitive. It’s experimental, fantastic, intelligent but also quirky.

If you like to try different, original tastes of literature feast from the pen of talented author, this book may check your all boxes. But I have to tell this novel is literally not everyone’s cup of tea.
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
527 reviews117 followers
September 11, 2022
Re-read for my book club. Still loved it. I was curious if already knowing everything would ruin the experience, but I think it’s less of a twisty book than I thought before. More of a meditative experience of this very earnest guy in a very strange situation. It’s interesting too how quickly I started to think in terms of allegory. Anyway, still excellent. Quite the POV study.

This time around, I’d meant to read it instead of listen. But the audiobook is such a delight.

Pretty much anything I could write about this book would be a spoiler, so I will keep this short and say, if you like strange and magical stories, this one is wonderful. I loved it.

I will also join my voice to the chorus of fans who recommend that you read as little as you can about the book before starting it so that you can fully enjoy the unfolding strangeness.

For writers, this book is a masterclass in point of view. There are incredible disconnects between the information of the world and the understanding of the main character, and each one is delightful.

Update: It seems like this has become something of a love it or hate it book. I thought I'd chime in and say how much I loved the audiobook, which recently won a big award. Chiwetel Ejiofor's narration is incredible. If you disliked the style of the book but are willing to give it a second try, maybe try listening to it instead.
Profile Image for Swrp.
561 reviews108 followers
July 24, 2021
"The beauty of the house is immeasurable, it's kindness infinite."

[piraˈneːsi] or is it [pee-ra-nay-see! ?]

Piranesi is all about the other world…
"the other world, where architecture and oceans were muddled together..."

(Mermaid by the sea - Source the-joie-in-my-vivre.tumblr.com)

The house of Piranesi is not like any of the other houses, and also it is not a regular kind of building - the rooms are unlimited and the corridors never end.

Susanna Clarke`s Piranesi is mysterious, weird and fascinating – it is about a world in a world, which is filled with loneliness and solitude – it is the result of the life you create for yourself, and the world you build around yourself when you go through those endless circles of dreams!

(Giovanni Piranesi, dorotheum.com)

By the end –

It feels like a short quick dream…

As if someone jolts you awake from a deep slumber…

You get a sense of the endless possibilities…

A beautiful world to that is waiting, in the ruins of your sleep…

And, you will forever be disappointed with the reality!
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,586 reviews1,987 followers
April 17, 2020
If at all possible, this is the kind of book you should go into knowing as little as possible about it. It can be confusing and even disorienting at first, but it's a book that is very smart about how it is going to teach you what it is, so I recommend letting the book do that rather than any reviews or jacket copy.

So here's my totally non-info-about-the-book review to hopefully give you an idea of whether it will be a good one for you.

First: do not approach this book expecting it to be anything like JONATHAN STRANGE. Like many people, I adore that book, and this is not like it in any way shape or form. The only way in which they are similar is that they share a kind of glee in not following the rules so that you do not know what to expect.

PIRANESI is not difficult to read but it is strange. It requires a bit of dedication. It is not long, though, so it isn't the kind of commitment that you will have to spend days or weeks reading it bit by bit. While it doesn't have a real momentum to it in the prose itself, I was compelled to continue and read it quite quickly because I just wanted to know what the hell was happening.

Nothing is quite what you expect here. It is unclear whether the book takes place in a universe resembling our own and what relationship it is meant to have to our world for most of the time you are reading it. It is not a book with a lot of plot or character development either. It is, when it comes down to it, quite simply a mystery. Except that the mystery is the entire concept of the book, where it's set, and who the characters are. Mysteries that exist in a kind of fantastical world are not all that common, though, and it's best for both sets of readers to relax a bit because, remember, this book is not going to follow the conventions of either genre.

My experience of the book was quite delightful, even if, at the end of the day, it ends up being much more of a trifle than JSAMN. They are in many ways opposites, this one so small, a weird little bonbon of a book that is over just as it's begun, while the other is so large and complex, the kind of massive intricate dessert you do not want to eat because it looks so nice. But there are pleasures to be had in an unusual little escape, pleasures to be had in being baffled, and Clarke is more than competent to see you through this small exercise as she is a massive tome. It is, in its way, a perfectly peculiar beach read.
Profile Image for Henk.
822 reviews
December 27, 2022
Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021!
Mesmerizing, with an impossible house stretching everywhere and only two persons present. However in the end rather a rather conventional tale
He always thinks in terms of utility. He cannot imagine why anything should exist if he cannot make use of it.

At the start of the book we see a quote from The Magician's Nephew from C.S. Lewis and some concepts from that book come neatly back in Piranesi. The titular character and narrator (despite that he has an awareness it is not truly his name) roams immense and seemingly unending halls in a house. Twice a week The Other visits him and gives him some utensils that can't be made from bird feathers, fish, shells and seaweed (there is namely a sea in the lower halls, and various tides bundle together to a plot device in the end). Slowly but surely we learn more about the world and the history of Piranesi. I felt that Susanna Clarke skillfully employed the information drizzler and read this book in only two days.

The narrator seems to have an uncanny understanding of the world we would call the normal world outside of the halls he walks in (around 7.000 visited by him). I recently started a bit in House of Leaves and the strangeness and threat of never ending halls slightly reminded me of that book. In the end however I feel the book had most in common with the The Raw Shark Texts from Steven Hall, a book revolving around a person waking up with memory loss and slowly piecing together his identity and the strange world he finds himself in. And I was strangely reminded of the enormous walls in The Maze Runner series as well, also a tale (albeit in a very different genre) about memory loss and a seemingly impossible environment slowly giving up its secrets.
Conceptually Clarke takes Plato’s thoughts about ideas and the nature of the world as one of the foundations for the worldbuilding in this book.
In terms of other media it reminds me both of the plot of Memento and the deepest layer of Inception of Christopher Nolan. In general I feel this book would work very well as a movie.

In the later parts of the book the novelty and strangeness of the world become less pronounced and the books goes into a quite a conventional almost modern fairytale direction (with some inversions). This is a very quick read, quite compelling in execution, but in the end it left me longing for more daring and maybe some less neatly tied up ends at the conclusion of the book.
Profile Image for Danielle.
792 reviews386 followers
October 10, 2021
2021 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

When I picked up this book, my immediate thought was, I’m going to hate this. 😬 I’m not the type to enjoy overly fiction-esc worlds, with very little explanation, that requires a lot of imagination to picture on your own. 🤓 The first 1/3 of this book was rough for me. I almost threw in the towel. I’m actually glad I stuck with it. This book is a trip. I’m still not 100% sure what was really going on. But, I think that’s the point. 🤔 I found myself thinking about this book when not reading it, trying to figure it out- and well, any book that can do that is worth finishing. 👍
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.7k followers
May 5, 2021
I would like to be in charge.

Yes, I hate to make decisions, and yes, I like things that no one else likes and dislike things everyone adores, but at this point I think I should take one for team (but mostly me) and start dictating.

Because this book did not go where I wanted it to go, and I'm so intensely upset about it that I've decided that will be my villain origin story.

I thought this was going to be very magical and lovely. In fact I thought this was going to be magical realism with a one of a kind and unforgettable setting, which is my very favorite thing for any book to be. (In addition to short, which this is.)

It seemed like a Recipe For Success.

Instead, I was doled out a heaping serving of Suffering.

This book is mostly about how real life is a bummer. And if I needed a reminder of that, I could just, like, go outside. Or choose to be an active participant in my own life for once.

Like I would ever voluntarily do either of those things. Active participants don't read 200 books a year.

Bottom line: My quest for world domination just got sped up.


so it turns out i want magical fantasy ONLY.

review to come / 3ish stars

tbr review

"Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant."

so...do you think Piranesi is looking for roommates?
Profile Image for Hamad.
990 reviews1,306 followers
September 21, 2020
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

DNF @25%

I am not an expert when it comes to the author’s work. I haven’t read Susanna’s well acclaimed Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norell novel. I was excited when I saw this book because it has such a good synopsis, it sounded whimsical and the cover gave me Greek God vibes which are my favorite. Unfortunately I DNFed it. I have checked the current ratings and I am only the third person who gave it a 1 star so this is an unpopular opinion for sure. I know many readers will enjoy it but this review is mostly for the few people who won’t.

The major problem with this book is that I read 25% before I decided to stop and I barely understood 25% of what I read. The writing did not feel natural to me, I was confused most of the time and although it is a short book, it was hard to go through. I could have continued for a couple of hours and finished it but I felt that there was no point in doing that.

The writing is very “purple”, I felt that the author tried too hard with the descriptions and she could have used much simpler terminology to describe things. The thing is that it felt like reading a calculus book with all those numbers (The fiRst Day oF The FiFtH MonTh of the YeAr thaT the Albatross came to the South WeSt shore and so on…).

I can’t say I related to Piranesi because I was so confused. The other characters were not given names but were given nicknames or symbols which did not help at all in my opinion. I can’t talk much about the plot because I did not finish it.

Summary: I wish I enjoyed this as much as I wanted but I simply did not. I believe this is an unpopular opinion and that many readers will enjoy it (Already many readers did) but simply the writing was not for me and I was confused for the majority of the small part that I read. Farewell Piranesi!

You can get more books from Book Depository
Profile Image for emily .
234 reviews2,082 followers
August 13, 2022
I read this book back in January of this year, and it still won't let me fucking rest. Which makes me think: Have I really, truly, finished this book? How do you know when you're 'finished' with a story? Because my mind keeps circling back to Piranesi; this stupid novel keeps beckoning me with a force that exceeds words; and I keep crumbling, falling, crawling back to it over and over. And then, suddenly, I'm engulfed again. And then I remember. Everything.

description ©

I think..... and forgive me for being so utterly audacious, but I think Piranesi is my book. It belongs so perfectly into the contours of my soul that there is simply no other way of saying it. Technically, I own this book - or maybe it owns me.

Readers are merely explorers of worlds. We travel in between realities, choosing to linger in realms that are far detached from ours; simply because they are more invigorating, more fulfilling, more vibrant to us. Piranesi feels like home to me. I can picture myself in this story so vividly that it is always just..... there to access. I can close my eyes, anywhere and anytime, and be Piranesi, wandering the halls of the endless House that is depicted in this book.

“In my mind are all the tides, their seasons, their ebbs and their flows. In my mind are all the halls, the endless procession of them, the intricate pathways. When this world becomes too much for me, when I grow tired of the noise and the dirt and the people, I close my eyes and I name a particular vestibule to myself; then I name a hall.”

I remember when I started reading this, I was immediately so completely and wholeheartedly lost. I spent my weekend nestled in between the pages of this book and from the moment I started it I was, with lack of a better word, consumed by it. Whenever I put it down to stumble into the kitchen to get a drink, my mother slightly concerned at finding me with a blank stare and in a generally disoriented state, I never really left the world of Piranesi, entirely. I believe now that I'm falling out of this story in a daze, part of my mind is - and might forever be - still stuck in a different reality, just as much there as it is here. It is still unraveling at the hands of this book and I don't know how many hours, days, years, lifetimes it will take for me to piece myself back together and become a person again.

I'm afraid to say anything at all about the contents of Piranesi because I don't want to destroy the illusion for you. Whatever you assume it is, it is probably not that. If you ask me whether you should take a step and venture into the unknown by yourself, my answer is a frantic and almost breathless Yes, over and over and endlessly. But that other part, that first step, is on you.

This book felt like a descent into madness and an epiphany at the same time, and I loved it I loved it I loved it. That's all I'm revealing about my thoughts on it and that's all I'm leaving you with, reader.

Rating: ★★★★★
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,109 reviews44.3k followers
October 19, 2021
Piranesi is a very clever piece of writing, and it is also a very difficult book to review.


Because I can’t really talk about the content of the book. Anything I say (and I mean literally anything) would spoil the story. I can’t talk about the characters, the plot or even some of the central themes. If you’ve already read the book, then you will understand perfectly why. If you haven’t read the book, then I urge you to stop reading this review (and those of others.) The best way to approach this one is with little to no knowledge about it.

I can say one thing though: keep reading it. The first part is a little perplexing. It’s unusual and even a little repetitive but, once again, please keep reading because it opens into something truly fantastic.

I would expect nothing different from Susanna Clarke.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
December 22, 2021
The Paradox Book of Paradoxes.

The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite. (c)
‘Do the Statues exist because they embody the Ideas and Knowledge that flowed out of the other World into this one?’ (c)
… may your Paths be safe … your Floors unbroken and may the House fill your eyes with Beauty.’ (c)

The opening is the weakest I've ever seen anywhere. At the beginning I was flabbergasted at how bad the setting is. Just imagine: in the middle of nowhere sits an endless hotel house. Since it's so very endless, it has windows and is partially flooded and partially cloudy. And, yes, there are windows, so, it's no endless in all directions, just in some of them. Maybe.

Then there is a lot of fun gibberish about Statues and places (no, Places) where they are located: Halls, Houses, Vestibules, Doorways, Staircases, Passageways, Plinths, Niches, Apses and all kinds of other Buildings and parts thereof, intact or not. The architectural nightmare where the MCs exist is immense and unending, but, BUT there are Windows and Cortyards and Sky and Clouds which should mean that there must be at least some endings somewhere… Sounds like a nightmare? There's more:

There are rooms in this house. What a shocker! They go prenumbered, like this:
Q: … I have travelled as far as the Nine-Hundred-and-Sixtieth Hall to the West, the Eight-Hundred-and-Ninetieth Hall to the North and the Seven-Hundred-and-Sixty-Eighth Hall to the South. (c)

2 alive guys traipse around this House. A bunch of dead guys (in the form of skeletons) are lying around. The MC is called Piranesi (like this guy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovann...). Was it allusion to his Carceri? It's not his name, obviously, but that's what he's called by 'the Other' (Val Ketterley). The Other is someone Piranesi has weekly meetings with (I'm getting the nice and comfy corporate feeling from this).

Yeah, and all the capitalisation made me feel by this point like it was written in German. I do realise why his had to be done in precisely this way but it's quite irritating.

So, the guy, Piranesi, is stalking the house. He does that for years. Years are distinguished like this:
- 'the Year I discovered the Coral Halls',
- 'the Year I named the Constellations',
- 'the Year I counted and named the Dead',
- 'the Year that the Ceilings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First North-Eastern Halls collapsed',
- 'the Year I travelled to the Nine-Hundred-and-Sixtieth Western Hall',
Everything's happening in 'the Year the Albatross came to the South-Western Halls'.

The world setting out is a total mindfuck. Then some magic starts happening: the worlds achieves some weirdo dynamic, reveals start happening.

That's what I thought, preparing at this point for another horrible read.

Deliria diary basically. Yes, it is a bit (lot!) like Borges and a bit like Wilde but it's not anything of theirs since they generally did not prefer to stay away from all meaning for the sake of pretty picture (or text, as is the case with Piranesi). But these pretty pictures after some point started revealing something incredible.

I'm pretty sure that this novel has bright future and will be either popular or widely known. Why? Not because it's good. But because it's quirky and it's very much a standalone, unlike other recently published stuff. And yeah, since people will love to twist it this way and that and try and find some extremely well-hidden meaning in between all the Statues. The Statue of Angel on smth will be interpreted as an allusion to maybe Thomas Aquinas, the Water will be made to sound as maybe Time or Knowledge or Life or Energy or smth equally fitting (a lot of things could be made to fit such blank imagery), the Sky will maybe become some interpretation of Limits in something (Learning, Understanding, Possibilities, Life, etc… ), the House - some crucible of smth equally meaningful… Well, who knows…. A lot of things can be understood in a lot of alternative ways.

I am determined to explore as much of the World as I can in my lifetime. To this end I have travelled as far as the Nine-Hundred-and-Sixtieth Hall to the West, the Eight-Hundred-and-Ninetieth Hall to the North and the Seven-Hundred-and-Sixty-Eighth Hall to the South. I have climbed up to the Upper Halls where Clouds move in slow procession and Statues appear suddenly out of the Mists. I have explored the Drowned Halls where the Dark Waters are carpeted with white water lilies. I have seen the Derelict Halls of the East where Ceilings, Floors – sometimes even Walls! – have collapsed and the dimness is split by shafts of grey Light. (c) What an exciting world they have!
The Other believes that there is a Great and Secret Knowledge hidden somewhere in the World that will grant us enormous powers once we have discovered it. What this Knowledge consists of he is not entirely sure, but at various times he has suggested that it might include the following:
1.  vanquishing Death and becoming immortal
2.  learning by a process of telepathy what other people are thinking
3.  transforming ourselves into eagles and flying through the Air
4.  transforming ourselves into fish and swimming through the Tides
5.  moving objects using only our thoughts6.  snuffing out and reigniting the Sun and Stars
7.  dominating lesser intellects and bending them to our will (c)
An angel with a trumpet and a ship. An angel with a trumpet suggests a message. A joyful message? Perhaps. But an angel might also bring a stern or solemn message. Therefore the character of the message, whether good or bad, remains uncertain. The ship suggests travelling long distances. A message coming from afar.A book and clouds. A book contains Writing. Clouds hide what is there. Writing that is somehow obscure.A child and mice. The child represents the quality of Innocence. The mice are devouring the grain. Little by little it is diminished. Innocence that is worn down or eroded.
So this, as far as I can tell, is what the birds told me. A message from afar. Obscure Writing. Innocence eroded.
Interesting. (c)
it occurs to me to wonder why it is that the House gives a greater variety of objects to the Other than to me, providing him with sleeping bags, shoes, plastic bowls, cheese sandwiches, notebooks, slices of Christmas cake etc., etc., whereas me it mostly gives fish. (c)
The House is valuable because it is the House. It is enough in and of Itself. It is not the means to an end. (c)
Well, to begin with there are no lesser minds; there are only him and me and we both have keen and lively intellects. But, supposing for a moment that a lesser mind existed, why would I want to control it? (c)
Abandoning the search for the Knowledge would free us to pursue a new sort of science. We could follow any path that the data suggested to us. (c)
I mended one of my fishing nets and worked on my Catalogue of Statues. In the early evening I went to the Eighth Vestibule to fish in the Waters of the Lower Staircase. The Beams of the Declining Sun shone through the Windows of the Lower Halls, striking the Surface of the Waves and making ripples of golden Light flow across the Ceiling of the Staircase and over the Faces of the Statues. When night fell, I listened to the Songs that the Moon and Stars were singing and I sang with them. (c)
Two memories. Two bright minds which remember past events differently. It is an awkward situation. (c)
Once, men and women were able to turn themselves into eagles and fly immense distances. They communed with rivers and mountains and received wisdom from them. They felt the turning of the stars inside their own minds. (c)
When she was a teenager D’Agostino told a friend that she wanted to go to university to study Death, Stars and Mathematics. (с)
Profile Image for Farrah.
221 reviews567 followers
October 31, 2020
It's easy to get lost in this fantasy World of hallways, vestibules, staircases and statues but luckily Piranesi is there to lead the way.

Personally I really enjoyed this book.
But it is very subjective. So much of the symbolism and imagery is ambiguous and different readers will interpret it in different ways - or not at all.

𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘥𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘯 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥.
Profile Image for Prerna.
220 reviews1,259 followers
March 22, 2023
Winner of The Women's Prize for Fiction, 2021.

While reading this book I was pleasantly reminded of philosopher David Lewis's possible worlds theory, the idea that all possible versions of this world exist simultaneously, infinitely. The theory posits that each of these worlds is as concrete and real as ours, and ours is unique simply because we live in it.

Piranesi, the eponymous character, lives in one such world. A world, that to readers familiar with Giovanni Battista Piranesi's work, will seem like a superimposition of his numerous labyrinthine etchings. A world that is also an infinite house - waves crash and tides rise up in the lower floors while the clouds wander around in the upper floors. This house is populated by thousands and thousands of statues, some beautiful and others strange.

It is my belief that the World (or, if you will, the House, since the two are for all practical purposes identical) wishes an Inhabitant for Itself to be a witness to its Beauty and the recipient of its Mercies.

Piranesi does not reside there alone. The 'Other' whom Piranesi meets twice a week, also lives in the house, and together they are working on extracting an ancient, secret knowledge that the Other believes is trapped within the house.

But as the story progresses, Piranesi finds himself in a complex entanglement of questions concerning his relation to the house, the other's intentions and the origins of his world. To his great distress, he also discovers that there are gaps in his memory.

The book is also a study in solitude. While wandering the house's numerous halls, talking to birds, drawing stellar maps and making tidal calculations of the waves crashing together, Piranesi is utterly alone. But, he is also content. In this marvelous book, solitude is not merely a state of mind. It is life itself.

The book with its Borgesque prose that's also faintly reminiscent of Lovecraftian horror, is a perfect weekend read. I curled up with it and let the world around me transform into Piranesi's eternal halls and minotaur statues.

Edit: I am so pleased that a fantasy book won The Women's Prize for Fiction! Is this... Is this the beginning of the end of literary snobbery? Or am I speaking too soon?
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32,646 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.