Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Bloomsbury advertises this voluminous novel as “the grown-up version of Harry Potter”. A publishing house can well do that. But I donīt understand critics, who say the same. If this were true, grown-ups would only read dull, terribly boring big books. I have tried hard, honestly, and read about two-thirds of this novel, patiently waiting for something interesting to happen, but it didnīt.
Clarke is a very ambitious writer, filling every page up with footnotes about real and imaginary events and reference books. Her aim obviously is to write the ultimate compendium of British wizardry in the 19th century, giving everything a fake scientific touch. This might sound fascinating, and certainly could be so, if Clarke had at least the faintest sense of humour. But in a very Germanic furor she plods on and on like her main character Mr Norrell, who is a philistine sorcerer, forever in fear of his disciple and rival Jonathan Strange. And there is the dark figure of the Raven King, who threatens them both.