RATING – 4/5
I wanted to read this book since it came out because like many I really enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell but I did not want to read this book because, well it sounded ridiculously tedious. So when ‘The World’s Worst Book Club That No One Asked For’ took its roots thanks to Kristen (@kraysbookclub) and Jordy (@jordys.book.club). I knew I wanted to be a part of it and then when I saw Piranesi on the list, I knew this is the only way I will read this book, even so I procrastinated and I procrastinated hard. Finally picked this up two days before the chat date and it truly surprised me. This was so strange, so bewildering and so beautiful.
The protagonist Piranesi lives in ‘The House’ which is an endless labyrinth of halls filled with statues. The upper level represents the skies and the lower levels have the sea with regular tides that sweep through at regular intervals. He doesn’t remember anything other than the House and he meets regularly with his friend and colleague ‘The Other’ where they work together to learn The Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi keeps many journals with observations, mapping the house and it’s tides with his own system, but when he notices pages missing and messages from a mysterious third person in the halls, things get interesting.
I don’t want to say more about the plot, I genuinely think it’s one of those books that you need to just dive into without knowing too much about it. I really enjoyed this one. It is so strange, I know I keep using that word but it is strange, delightfully so. Piranesi is a very original story, with so much symbolism and imagery, it is mildly fantastical with a splash of dark academia mystery. It’s a little difficult to get into, the first 30 pages were brutal, you are thrown into this crazy world with a narrator you slowly realise is not very reliable. But stick with it because it will surely grip you as the story slowly unfolds. After a point you won’t want to lose momentum just to find out what the hell is going on. There is an underlying sweetness in the simple actions and thoughts of Piranesi that is utterly endearing and you will want to be with him as he unravels this puzzle.
This book can be about so much, it is about gratitude and kindness and curiosity. It is about magic, survival, loneliness and contentment but truly it boils down to the simple fact that your world is what you make of it. Reading this book was like a languid dream, so atmospheric and so intriguing. I promise you, you will be thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading.