Piranesi lives in a house with infinite rooms, endless corridors and thousands of statues. It’s no ordinary house, but one with an ocean trapped within its halls and tides that threaten to flood rooms at any given moment. According to Piranesi, there is only one other person who lives with him in this house, ‘the other’, who he regularly meets up with to help with their research. However, it soon becomes clear that there is another person in their world and it’s their discovery that leads Piranesi to uncover some terrible truths.
First off, I just want to put it out there that I almost DNFed this one. I really struggled with the first 100 pages and while I don’t need a lot of action to enjoy a book, I couldn’t understand how a book so short could be so slow. I think my mistake was thinking that Piranesi would be anything like other Greek myth retellings that I’ve previously read. The writing is completely different— much more disjointed—and Piranesi is, in contrast, a very passive protagonist. He’s unreliable and not at all heroic.
The world-building was excellent and I enjoyed Piranesi’s detailed descriptions of the halls. I also liked the themes of solitude and spirituality within the house. The ending was perfect and tied in the plot elements nicely, while still delivering on the book’s overall message. The last 50 pages were fun and I love how the twist was unveiled, but the effort I put into dragging myself through the first half of Piranesi far outweighs any pleasure I got from reading it. For me, it seemed more style over substance, although I am open to the idea that I’m too stupid to get the book/am not its intended audience.
I would love to see Piranesi made into a high production movie starring Alfred Enoch with lots of special effects and moody lighting. As a book though, I’m not convinced. Fantasy enthusiasts would probably enjoy it a lot more than I did and there are lots of glowing reviews out there, so I think it’s very much down to personal taste.