Soooooo long. I can’t remember the last time it took me three months to finish a book. Granted, I was reading other things at the same time, but…
I keep thinking this book could probably be edited down to a less wrist-straining 700 pages or so, but I really don’t know what I would cut. The pacing could be improved. It’s very slow, particularly in the first section before we meet Jonathan Strange, but then the last 300 pages were full of suspense and seemed to fly by for me. On the whole, the amazing chapters far outweighed the slightly boring ones.
I loved the whole atmosphere of this novel—very Victorian. The characters and world are just so rich and colorful. At times, Clarke used archaic spellings such as “shew” instead of “show”, which I think was a great stylistic choice. I know a lot of people hate the extensive footnotes, but I thought Clarke did a pretty decent job of them for the most part. Some I thought really added to the story (particularly the lengthy ones that told humorous stories about old magic), but others I found extremely tedious and didn’t think they were necessary. Clarke could probably learn a thing or two from Terry Pratchett.
I saw someone online describe this as “if Charles Dickens and Harry Potter had a baby”, and that’s probably a pretty accurate description. Still, it’s so