Have you read Susanna Clarke's fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
? Well, it's time because the BBC is in production with the mini series and it will play on BBC America. Take heed, it is big. It's over 900 pages long and dense with footnotes concerning an invented magical history of England. It also moves at the pace of smoke or fog. I think that's the fairies' doing. Wow, I'm not sure I would read it after that description. I should also mention it is great. So great that Neil Gaiman called it "Unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years." As for the 900 or so pages, well, at least it comes to an end. You don't have to wait years for the next volume in the series to be published and then try to remember what the hell happened previously (ahem, Mr. George R.R. Martin.)
In a nutshell, the story takes place in the nineteenth century in England where magic is making a reappearance. A Wikipedia article
lays out themes of friendship, reason and madness, Englishness, and historical otherness. I laughed when I read that and then thought, perfect. There is a great deal of dry wit in this novel.
This is Clarke's first novel. I know, it kills me too. I think fairies most certainly must have stolen her away for a time while she was writing. How could all of this come from one person's head on the first try?
If you're feeling a bit daunted, perhaps you could start with Clarke's collection of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories,
all of which take place in the same world as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
. The short stories will whet your appetite for more.
I've rambled on enough without saying much. Just go buy the book.