American Fork, UT, United States
I am not a professional reviewer. I'm a writer. Beyond that, I appreciate works for what they are and what they're trying to be. If I review a book, I will probably give it a five-star review. This is because the books that I don’t enjoy enough to give five stars--or the books that I don’t finish--I won’t end up reviewing, simply out of professional courtesy to my colleagues in the business. Elitist Book Reviews will give more balanced reviews, whereas my reviews are not intended to be balanced. They are intended to talk about the book, what I like about it, and maybe some of the things that annoyed me. But at the end of the day, if I finished the book, then it deserves a good rating in my opinion.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – I found this book delightful even though I didn’t really expect to. In fact, during the first third of the book, I was convinced that I was going to end up putting it down. It was just too slow, though the slowness wasn’t really as big an issue as it sounds because Susanna Clarke’s prose is wonderful.
It feels like the best mix of regency and modern with a slight sarcasm to it and a very keen sense of ambiance and world-building. The footnotes are great, and the whole thing just works together masterfully prose-wise, but the character--particularly Mr. Norrell at the beginning--was just so unengaging that despite the nice prose and world-building, I was having trouble getting through the book.
The fact that it was an audio book--and that the narrator is so fantastic--really pushed me through this. Once I arrived at Jonathan Strange's viewpoint, I found him more dynamic and more interesting. Though the pacing of the book only increased a little bit, the natural wonder and whimsy of the language was able to take center stage, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying the book.
By the ending, I was happy I had finished listening to the novel. I think it is somewhat unique as a piece, and is a wonderful read, particularly in audio book. The ending left me a little disappointed, but this is really relating to characterization, and I don’t want give any spoilers. The characters are very well-drawn; they're just not always the people that I wish they could be.
I make a special note of the side characters. To a person I found them very interesting and a highlight of the book. I thought that Childermass was particularly a fun, complicated, and interesting character. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, but I do have to reiterate what a lot of people said. It is slow. It is a book about the language and the setting, not a book about character and thought.
I really enjoyed His Majesty's Dragon, and in the time since I finished it, I've come to appreciate it even more. I liked it while I was reading it, but in comparison to other things, this has stuck with me more. It is a delightful story, the narration was very good, and I give the book my highest recommendation.
I've got this weird thing going on where Naomi Novik and I actually were up for the same award when we first broke into the business, and she thoroughly trounced me. So I don't give this recommendation lightly, since she is--next to John Scalzi--my secondary evil nemesis :), but also by all accounts a very nice person.
I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of the series.
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