Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Magic and fairies are not the proprietary subjects of teenage novels or esoteric pagan reference books that are exclusive to a select few. They were part of a belief system kept by your distant and not-so-distant ancestors, learned or unlearned, which was a fountain of their norms and mores and acculturated even into a Christian organized religion. So much so that the world of supernatural was thus believed to be hidden in this world of terrestrial, enveloping the outer circle of the earth with a gossamer of ethereal air, thinning the boundary of corporeal and incorporeal. This system of belief has survived particularly in the British Isles, where Celtic mysticism has produced its fairy progenies and dispersed them beyond the watery boundaries of the Isles. Out of such British fairy progenies comes this wonderfully imaginative Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke whose mission is to prove the world that there are more things in earth and heaven than are dreamt of in your rational impulse.
The story is a fascinating hybrid of history, adventure, and fantasy all entertainingly interwoven in the magical tapestry of literature. It’s also a great house of imaginativeness built upon Clarke’s erudition of the subjects ranging from the rise and decline of English magicians to the changing social customs and values, all the marks upon her mastery of storytelling that will make you steeped in the pages after pages as if you were enchanted by her alchemy of words. Her characters are extraordinary, but their personalities are not far from the ordinary, which endows a sense of verisimilitude upon the story and leads you to a seemingly obvious path to the maze of her fascinating tale. It is Clarke’s own magic that creates this wondrous make-believe world of magicians and fairies who are indeed very much alive in her mind’s theater to which she invites you to join her in the bewitching festival via witchcraft of literature.
Her vivacious creativity doubled with her alchemy of words accounts for a thick volume of the handy little book, which is also extraordinary for a customary semblance of a paperback. This also shows Clarke’s ability to record supernatural events and things in the ordinary subjects with her dazzling narrative skills and ingenious composition of plots seamlessly connected to one another that would have been an infelicity of redundant multiplication of stories as a result of insufficient creative ammunition. Which is to say that this book will take you from the rut of your ordinary reality to the world beyond where you can summon a fairy to your service and make a wish, especially at this epochal moment of time when you need something delightful to read.