When I started reading the New York Times article "Susanna Clarke's Magic Book," I was not impressed. Another supposed successor to Harry Potter, I thought, when will these publishers ever learn? Then I saw the endorsements from Neil Gaiman and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Interest piqued, I downloaded the first chapter [PDF] and read it.
I liked it enough that I am actually thinking about buying the book (in hardcover, nonetheless). It manages to be entertaining without being insipid. I would argue that it is far closer to the roots of English fantasy that J.K. Rowling's work (which is formulaic, unnaturally centered around a single protagonist, and clearly written for a global audience).