I finally finished reading Susanna Clarke's delightful Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I know the book came out a couple of years ago, and it's had a lot of critical acclaim--the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, book Sense book of the year, etc.--but somehow I never heard about it. I saw the Tor paperback edition in my grocery store and picked it up, mainly because of all the awards it said it won and all the nice blurbs by people like Neil Gaiman.
It's certainly a very good book, and it's well worth reading, though not for people with short of attention spans (the paperback is over 1000 pages and it's fairly complex). Still, it was definitely a pleasure to read. The characters were fleshed out nicely. The plot made sense. The style is a bit old fasioned, but that was obviously done on purpose and to good effect.
The plot is a s follows. There's a gentleman named Mr. Norrell who is a practicing magician--the only one seen in England for over a century. He wants to bring magic back to England, but oddly enough, doesnt want anyone else performing magic. To gain political influence, he raises a girl from the dead with the help of a fairy king. Unfortunately, the fairy sticks around and causes all kinds of trouble. Mr. Norrell eventually acquires and apprentice named Jonathan Strange. The two fight and argue a lot, but seem genuinely fond of each other.
There's a good bit more to it than that, but it's a very long book, and I don't want to go into it all here. If you haven't read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell yet, you should. I give it a full 5 yo-yos.