Oooh, this is such a delicious book and I enjoyed every second of reading it, it felt like a window into another world and was such a treat to read, it is fantastic and I can’t stop recommending it to people and raving about it!

It is a story about magic in 1800s England where such a thing as magic is common-place and accepted and not that usual at all (a thing I had to keep reminding myself at the beginning) although it isn’t as popular as it once was. Mr Norrell is a magician determined to bring back magic to England but he wants only a certain kind of magic to be taught and accepted which means no reference to the dark sinister magic of the Raven King in times past, he also wants to be the only respected magician in England and aims to keep this exclusivity by owning and keeping secret all the text books and information about magic he can find. Jonathan Strange teaches himself magic and becomes Mr Norrell’s student, and between them they help England during the Napoleonic War by using magic in battle. Jonathan believes, however, that the history of the Raven King cannot be denied or erased and that there are things to admire and of benefit regarding this King, and this belief brings about Strange’s and Norrell’s split and they are from then on opposing sides. Throughout this, there are frequent appearances of a sinister gentleman with thistledown hair, a fairy called forth by Mr Norrell when he magically brings a dead girl back to life, however this fairy is not the easily controlled gentleman that Mr Norrell expects him to be and he becomes involved in several people’s lives suffering them to live between two worlds, the fairy world and the real world.

My over-riding thought about this book is how real it all seemed with the footnotes throughout and the references to other magical books, I thought this was a brilliant idea. The whole book is a beautiful mix of real and fantasy with some factual things such as ‘Mad’ King George III and the Duke of Wellington and Byron, alongside fairies and fairy roads and magic, I love this mix. It is an unusual book and unlike anything else I have read, and yet saying that some aspects of its style reminded me of a couple of my all-time favourite books, (which is a recommendation in itself), namely Charles Dickens’ books due to the huge size of book, the detailed descriptions of the characters, the unusual surnames of the characters, the old-fashioned spellings and language used, and the drawings in the book, and it also reminded me of The Lord of the Rings due to the epic book it is and the in-depth creation of a whole other world.

I love so much about this book! I love that the magic stronghold of England is in the North of England rather than the South and that the place names are real Northern places (as I am Northerner myself). I love that the amazing character of the thistledown hair gentleman is so memorable; he can be sinister and cruel, yet in some of his speeches to Stephen he is extremely funny in a cutting and sarcastic way. I love the way that all the threads are tied up at the end of the book and that all have their relevance, and that the prophesises all come true in the end, and that seemingly minor characters have had major importance throughout the book.

The whole story is so well thought out and there is such depth in the book. I would definitely want to own this book and re-read it. This is a great and amazing piece of work and I am full of admiration for it and what an undertaking it must have been, I definitely have a sense that Clarke lived and breathed this world in the writing of the book as I did in the reading of it. I cannot recommend it enough!

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Paperback)

By (author): Susanna Clarke

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