Book Review of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
reviewed on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 15


There are people here who really loved this book and people who loathe it. I really liked it.

Initially it took some getting used to, like the way your ear adjusts to opera or another language, Clarke's rich narrative was very soothing for me and I loved escaping in it into her story. It started a little slowly, but the promise of "Jane Austen meets Harry Potter" was too much for me to resist. I found it more "Jane Austen attempts to one-up Tolkien with mixed results" but as I said, I am firmly in the "loved it" camp.

One of the themes I especially liked was Mr. Norrell's hoarding of magic books, particularly in times where corporate censorship can stifle political thought and many countries still do not enjoy freedom of speech or the press.

My favorite thing about this book was what a dreamy hero Jonathan Strange is. Though three dimensional, and with a few weaknesses, Clarke writes him deliciously and I couldn't have been happier with him as a protagonist.

Arabella, Lady Pole, Stephen Black, The gentleman with thistle down hair, Childremass, even Viniculus and Segundus are all vibrant supporting characters that make the story engaging and real.

Some of the best parts of the book only related tangentially to the plot, which is quite well developed. You will find emotional and suspenseful moments when you least suspect them.

I leave you with this quotation from the book:

"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could."