Adapting Susanna Clarke’s novel, which Neil Gaiman called “unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years”, into a seven-part series was always going to require resourcefulness, but the final product is absolutely mesmerizing, with an exquisitely gothic baroque style, dark satirical humor, and sweeping narrative that represents British television at its most imaginative and compelling. In an alternate history set amidst the Napoleonic wars at the outset of the 19th century, magic’s no longer practiced in England. It’s seen as disreputable and ungentlemanly, but equally, modern “magicians” have forgotten how to access it. When studious and serious Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan) briefly colludes with the otherworldly Gentleman (Marc Warren), dead people are brought back from the beyond; the kingdom of Lost Hope is discovered behind mirrors; and the only other practicing magician in England, the effervescent and perpetually curious Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel), can help to understand the doomsday prophecy of the returning Raven King. If that doesn’t tick boxes, then maybe you’re too respectable for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
This 200 word capsule review is published at PopMatters.com, where you can read the rest of the feature for free.