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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Stand Alone Fantasy Titles, August 2012

As the Napoleonic Wars run rampant across land and sea, two men emerge in 1806 England wielding magic long thought to be lost. Mr. Norrell weaves amazing illusions to try and turn the tide of the war against France, and his young understudy, Jonathan Strange, is equally as powerful. Soon, however, master and apprentice develop a rift, and the future of England is in the balance. Susanna Clarke's debut is magnificent. It is full of great historical tone and filled out with footnotes that immerse one in the world she is crafting. Magic and politics seem so well suited as companions that a reader will not find the more fantastical elements to be distracting. A sensational read from beginning to end.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Female Fantasy Authors, November 2012

Though she has only one fantasy to her name, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is so remarkable on its own that it would be impossible not to include Clarke in this list. Ten years in the making, Clarke's alternate 19th century tale of magic, madness, and Englishness is a jewel. When Neil Gaiman hails the book as "Unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years," you can take it to the bank. Though she is reportedly working on a sequel, she can take heart in knowing that this work of difficult birth landed her TIME Magazine's Best Novel of the Year (2004), as well as the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel (2005).