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Piranesi by Susanna Clarke


by Susanna Clarke

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

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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.

Why I love it

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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Member ratings (7,976)

  • Isaac W.

    West Hollywood, CA

    A truly wonderful book that just brims with mystery and imagination. It could easily be a by the book thriller and instead Susanna Clarke completely upends the layers and tells a magical story! ❤️❤️❤️

  • Maggie B.

    Brookshire, TX

    What bounds the borders of ‘reality’? Whose perspective parses ‘sanity’ from ‘madness’? Piranesi is a story unlike any other. One of the cleverest uses of a protagonist I’ve encountered. Read! This!

  • Kseniia K.

    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.

  • Ashley G.

    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

  • Chrissie W.

    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?