It’s been 16 years Susanna Clarke gave the world the masterful Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, a towering debut novel that expertly blended fantasy, folklore and 19th Century romance. Although the brilliant BBC adaptation starring Eddie Marsan failed to truly find its audience, her readers’ desire for more stories from this rich world remained unabated. The sequel that the book’s ending hinted at may not be next on the agenda, but we have recently received some details about Clarke’s next project.
Due for release in September next year from Bloomsbury, Piranesi looks set to be a surreal tale of mystery and suspense. The eponymous Piranesi lives in a building he knows only as ‘The House’, containing: “hundreds if not thousands of rooms and corridors, imprisoning an ocean. A watery labyrinth.”
The only other occupant is ‘The Other’, a figure doing research into ancient, occult knowledge. Piranesi begins to unravel an awful truth, one that has profound implications for the house’s occupants, and which may in fact mean that they are not alone.
Bloomsbury have acquired the novel as part of a two-book deal, but there is no word on whether the second book will be a standalone or a follow-up to a previous work.
Even without the recent bouts of ill health that Clarke says have delayed her writing, the author’s meticulously constructed worlds take time to perfect. At over 1000 pages, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell took over 10 years to complete. 4 million sales, a Hugo and a World Fantasy award later, and we’re forced to concede that it was time well spent.
Clarke’s agent, Jonny Geller, said that there are “a few moments in an agent’s life when something so unexpected and so wonderful pops up in your inbox, you can’t quite believe it”.
Clarke’s UK editor, Alexandra Pringle, said “It will be an honour to open the doors to the House, and show its beauty to the world.”