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Piranesi by Susanna Clarke


by Susanna Clarke

Quick take

Enter a strange, magical, curious world that feels like a dizzying dream you won't want to wake up from.

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Why I love it

Juliann Nelson
Content Producer, Fortune

Listen, no one would ever accuse me of being particularly comfortable with ambiguity—which is why I rarely pick up a book without knowing exactly what I’m getting myself into. So when I cracked open Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi with very little idea of what to expect, I took an uncharacteristic leap of faith. I’m thrilled to report it was a leap worth taking.

Piranesi is absolutely certain that there are 15 people in the world: two living and 13 dead. Both scientists and men of utmost reason, he and “The Other”—the only other living human—search vast statue-lined halls for a Great and Secret Knowledge. But cracks start to form in the foundation of his beloved House when a 16th person makes an appearance—and Piranesi’s understanding of the world begins to splinter alongside it.

Reading Piranesi is like putting together a puzzle without the image on the box as reference. You know there’s a bigger picture, but you can’t quite make it out until certain pieces fall into place. I reveled in each uncovered scrap of information, hoarding clues until I reached that satisfying moment of revelation. A mystery embedded in a fantastical setting, Piranesi is the book for puzzle-solvers and dreamers alike.

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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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Piranesi.

Member thoughts

All (5005)
All (5005)
Love (2980)
Like (1680)
Dislike (345)
5083 ratings
  • 59% Love
  • 33% Like
  • 7% Dislike
  • Cando, ND

    I thought it was a slow start, but once it took off I couldn’t put the book down! I loved being able to see into this crazy world from his point of view! I definitely didn’t see where this was going

  • San Diego, CA

    I love this book so much! It’s deep, strong, philosophical, strange, unique, thought provoking- and so enjoyable. I couldn’t put it down and it influences me so much- I cannot stop thinking about it.

  • Indian Trail, NC

    Part mystery, part exploration into madness and metaphors for such departures, Clarke has woven such a strange and beautiful tale that traps the reader alongside Piranesi — why would we want to leave?

  • Roanoke, IN

    I am just speechless after reading this masterpiece. I am so thankful to BOTM for expanding my reading genres, because I would never have picked this up on my own. This book is wonderfully weird! ❤️

  • Newport News, VA

    4.5 stars I went into it blind and I’m glad I did, I was pleasantly surprised, this is a book that was great on my first read, and will probably get better and better each time I reread it. Great book

  • Bellefonte, PA

    If readers are okay with confusion at first, they’ll be rewarded with a highly original and immersive fantastical mystery. Thoughtful, dreamy, & quietly powerful, Piranesi provides the perfect escape.

  • Denver, CO

    Mesmerizing from start to finish. Clarke has a style so vivid and defined that I couldn’t help but get swept up like the Tides in the House, as they beat against statues. One of the best of the year.

  • Burlington, WI

    Amazingly written immersive world and characters, stunning imagery, and great story. If I could read this one again for the first time I would. Get through the first 20 pages, and you’re in for a ride

  • Austin, TX

    It’s hard to describe my feelings about this book. A bit of mystery and seemingly insignificant details that when looked at correctly open up the story in new ways. I only wish there was more to read.

  • Westport, NY

    Perhaps one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Part fantasy, part mystery, part suspense. The first half was slow, but the second half flew. The ending, while too brief, was wonderful. 4.5 stars

  • Los Angeles, CA

    This book was like nothing I’d ever read before. Inventive, captivating and mesmerizing — you’ll be guessing at what the story is with every page you turn. I was entranced the whole way through.

  • Bridgman, MI

    Wow! What an intriguing, unique read. The way the story is written, as journal entries from the main character, keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on. It adds to the eerie sense of wonder.

  • Marshfield , MA

    Holy cow. Can I please get another dozen books like Piranesi? Pretty please? Because I absolutely loved it! It sucked me in right from the start, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since

  • Tustin, CA

    I could not love this book more. Very unique story. All the important questions are answered beautifully if you read to the end. The why and how are part of the journey. I devoured this in 1 day.

  • Sheboygan, WI

    I enjoyed the journey Piranesi took me on, but thought the ending was a bit rushed compared to the pacing of everything else. I love a good mysterious labyrinthine tale, and I loved this book overall.

  • Onalaska, WI

    Wowza! Read this book in 1 day! This book is like watching a puzzle unfold before you! Ps, i think Piranesi is one of the most likeable characters I have ever read about! So enduring in his innocence

  • Tolland, CT

    Beautifully written and unlike anything I’ve read before. Susanna Clarke has created a strange and vivid world that I will never forget. Piranesi is now officially one of my all-time favorite reads!

  • Baltimore, MD

    Piranesi is a pure cinnamon roll of a character and unearthing his story w/ him was exciting and thought provoking. Ive never read a more cheerful thriller, it reminds me of house of leaves, but happy

  • Williston, ND

    Stumbled onto this book by accident & what a wonderful surprise it turned out to be. Descriptive imaginative& strange. It'll pull you in &surround you w/the smell of the sea& you'll forget who you are


    Astonishing! A blend between two of my favorite authors, Blake Crouch and Haruki Murakami, in a metaphysical tour de force equal parts sci-fi and magical realism dash fantasy. Only wish was bit longer

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