By Josh Fickes
Hello, readers; it is a pleasure to be writing an article for the Force File, and I hope you all will enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Now then, with that introduction aside, let us move on to real reason for this article: literature reviews and recommendations.
In this article, I would like to recommend a fantasy novel which I thoroughly enjoyed, called Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. I found this novel incredibly engaging and well written with a strong, well thought out story. Although some people may shy away from its immense length of about eight hundred pages, I found this to be part of the book’s merit as it allowed the story the proper time it needed to develop in an interesting way.
I cannot give a full summary of the story, as I fear I may spoil the plot, but I can explain the book’s premise. This novel follows the story of two magicians, Mr Norrell, a well-read, somewhat reclusive man, and Jonathan Strange, a slightly reckless self-taught magician, as they attempt to restore magic to 19th century England. The story is a bit hard to become invested in at first, but if you greatly enjoy fantasy novels and do not mind not understanding the plot very well for quite a while, then Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is worth the sluggish exposition.
Clarke offers a wide variety of unique characters in her story, from the contrasting personalities of Strange and Norrell to the optimistic, caring Mr Segundus to the proud yet humble butler Steven. I found each character memorable in his or her own way, especially the gentleman with the thistledown hair, as he is referred to. This mysterious villain remains one of my favorite antagonists of all time for his subtly unsettling presence created by Clarke’s skillful writing of his slightly off dialogue. The author’s voice, narrating her story in a somewhat grand and formal style similar to that of Tolkien, truly brings the people and world of the novel to life. In addition to well-developed and complex characters, Susanna Clarke creates a unique system of magic in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell which is much more completely thought out than the magic of many other novels. Clarke even cites fictional books of magic to help explain certain aspects of the early parts of the book, such as the reason why the gentleman with the thistledown hair’s personality is unsettlingly askew.
All in all, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke is a memorable journey through a world of magic and unique characters, which is definitely worth reading, as a story like no other waits behind the slow exposition for the patient and intrigued reader. I highly recommend this satisfying novel to anyone looking for an immersive story of fantasy and magic, perhaps to read over the coming Thanksgiving or winter break.