Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell By Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke's prose is a marvel: dry and witty and wise like Jane Austen, with lovely, limber, lyrical flights reminiscent of Fitzgerald. So why would a writer of her prodigious gifts choose to lavish them on a novel about two wizards, one old and crusty, one young and dashing, feuding and dueling their way through Napoleonic Europe? Because in her hands a fantasy novel is far, far more than escapism: it's a literary triumph, the real world reflected in a magic mirror in all its rich, strange, melancholy glory.