Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Why this book?
In a magisterial book that set the bar for historical fantasy, Susanna Clarke’s reimagining of the Napoleonic wars is seamlessly suffused with the rediscovery of working magic in England by an odd couple of gentlemen magicians. The tone, the prose, and the dialogue are pitch-perfect for the early nineteenth century. There are high stakes and wild faeries and plenty of class-bound foibles and intrigues. But what makes this story shine is the whole new stratum of British lore Ms. Clarke slowly builds (much of it through footnotes, of all things). By the end, Clarke’s mythical Raven King felt every bit as real—and familiar—as King Arthur.