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Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke(1959- )
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was nominated for: Whitbread Prize for First Novel, British Science Fiction Association Best Novel, The Booker Prize Best Novel, British Fantasy Society Best Novel. It won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Hugo Best Novel, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature Best Novel. You can read an excerpt at the Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell website.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: We love it

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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I'm giving Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a 5 for the simply reason that I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through, but I'd warn all readers to be more wary than usual of reviews (including this one). More than many books, this one I think will be a matter of true personal taste and experience will be your only truly accurate guide.

To begin with, Strange is often referred to as a "fantasy" novel, an "adult" Harry Potter (ignoring Potter's self-obvious claim to millions of "adult" readers). If you're expecting fantasy in the form of Harry Potter magic (though done by bigger people employing bigger words) or Lord of the Rings-like ques... Read More

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories: A wonderful companion to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

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The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

The moment I finished Susanna Clarke's wonderful first novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I wished that there was more of it. It was a long wait, but finally the fans of Clarke's magically-soaked nineteenth-century Britain have a sequel — of sorts. Clarke presents eight short stories concerned with the presence of Faerie in England, and its influence on human inhabitants, all set in the same universe (with the same magical structure) as her previous work. However, it's more of a companion piece than a sequel, considering it does not continue the story told in her novel, but expands on several of its ideas and subplots.

This is particularly the case in the title story, "The Ladies of Grace Adieu," in which we find out why Jonathan Strange was so eager to remove his brother-in-law... Read More

Black Heart, Ivory Bones: All that’s best of dark and bright

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Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Black Heart, Ivory Bones is the sixth and final entry in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s series of fairy tale anthologies. Of the six, I’ve read four, and each has its own particular flavor, its own unique mood. While all of the books contain a mix of light and darkness, in this volume there seems to be more of a balance: “all that’s best of dark and bright,” if you will. The mood that Black Heart, Ivory Bones evoked in me was a wistfulness, maybe, or a pensiveness. When I first read the series, Black Thorn, White Rose was my favorite, but I’ve come to a deeper enjoyment of this volume as I’ve grown older. At this point I’d have to say the two are now tied in my mind.

My favorite stories in thi... Read More

The Secret History of Fantasy: Stories that redefine the genre

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The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle

The basic premise of the SECRET HISTORY anthologies (there's also a science fiction one, The Secret History of Science Fiction, which I haven't read) is that there's a type of writing that got missed or buried because other things were more popular, more commercial, or dodged the spec-fic labeling. Certainly that's the thrust of Peter S. Beagle's introduction, and the two other non-fiction pieces by Ursula K. Le Guin and editor David G. Hartwell.
... Read More