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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell begins in England in 1804, where magicians just study ancient English magic (think wizardry, not slight of hand), until one reclusive man, Mr. Norrell, claims to be its last practitioner. They think he's mad until he makes statues and gargoyles speak. Mr. Norrell is a boring, pedantic man, but in the hopes of defeating Napoleon, he agrees to use his magic in the war effort. Into his world comes Jonathan Strange, a quick student of magic who lets Mr. Norrell be his tutor. Strange is lively and gregarious, just the opposite of Mr. Norrell, and the two soon have a falling out and competitive rivalry. Their actions, though, unwittingly unleash a horror that may threaten England's future. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, described as Harry Potter for adults, has been nominated for the Booker Prize and has received glowing reviews. BookPage says, "What kind of magic can make a nearly 800-page novel seem too short? Whatever it is, debut author Susanna Clarke is possessed by it, and her astonished readers will surely hope she never recovers. Her epic history of an alternative, magical England is so beautifully realized that not one of the many enchantments Clarke chronicles in the book could ever be as potent or as quickening as her own magnificent narrative."