Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
By Susanna Clarke
Why this book?
I can’t resist a good alternative history novel. This is a book you can and should get lost in. I love the world that Susanna Clarke creates, a Napoleonic War-era England where magic is a subject only for historians until the two title characters revive it, teaching themselves to become the first real English magicians in hundreds of years. Clarke makes magic entirely convincing by having her characters conduct passionate scholarly arguments over spells, and by exploring the tension between the magic learned from books and the wild magic of this and other worlds. Her writing is devilishly brilliant, pitch-perfect in its Austenian restraint and wit. A funny, spooky, exciting novel.
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