Friday, July 6, 2012

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss

There is some comfort for me knowing that if I don't read a book while it's in hardcover, the paperback will follow within the year.  I gazed upon this book in hardcover for quite some time, always putting it on my mental "gotta read" list, but never quite getting to the point of reading it.  Now it's out in paperback, so I had no excuse not to add it to my collection at home.  

Reading reviews can be a good and bad thing.  If you read the reviews by people who have read David Liss' other titles, they were not happy with this one.  David writes historical fiction and has been quite popular in that genre.  This time, he worked a bit of magic into his historical fiction, and those who had never read him before enjoyed it; others were not impressed.  The quote from Deborah Harkness on the front cover of the paperback gave me hope that I would enjoy this one--and I did.

The Twelfth Enchantment was one of those books that I enjoyed right from the first page.  Lucy Derrick is a young woman of 20 who lives with a distant relative in Nottingham, England.  She's basically poor and beholden to her relative--a complete bore--to feed and shelter her.  Her father has died, her eldest sister Emily fell suddenly ill and died, and her younger sister, Martha married the despicable Mr. Buckles (who inherited their father's home) and lives far enough away that they don't see each other very often.  Lucy is an interesting young lady who's 
 life takes a drastic turn while she's stuck entertaining Mr. Olson, a mill owner who wants her hand in marriage.  How does her life change?  

Lord Byron.  He appears at her door quite clearly in a state of craziness, telling her she must not marry Mr. Olson.  Then he falls unconscious and must be carried into the home.  Lucy doesn't want to marry Mr. Olson, so she's in a bit of a pickle.  He creeps her out, and she has never met Lord Byron before--so what the heck is going on?  This begins Lucy's journey into the world of magic.  Lucy goes from feeling helpless and at the mercy of everyone around her to being determined to take control of her life.  She starts digging around and finds out all sorts of shocking secrets about her life, her father, and why everyone is trying to control her.  And it all has to do with magic.  

This isn't the magic you might find in a typical fantasy book.  It's grounded in philosophical works, nature, and it's becoming endangered with the rise of the Industrial Age.  Who will win?  The owners of the mills, which are spreading across England like a disease, or will magic fight back and stop the Industrial Age from bringing England into the future?  And just who is Jonas Morrison?  Oh--he's a big part of Lucy's past--and her future.  Will she fall under the sway of Lord Byron, and ruin her already tattered reputation?  

I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel.  The author wrote it with Jane Austen in mind, and I can see bits of her female characters in Lucy.  I love that Lucy basically gets pissed and decides to take control of her destiny--and she quickly becomes fearless!  This was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that kept me turning pages as the action increased and the stakes got higher for Lucy.  This is not a book that is purely fantasy, but addresses some serious topics.  Mr. Liss  executed a really good book!

My Rating:  4/5 for a solid historical novel with elements of magic and a strong female character.  And Lord Byron is a superb good guy/bad guy.

Available in paperback and as an e-book.

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations I've nominated you for the Liebster Award. More info here: http://bythecoverbookclub.blogspot.com/2012/07/liebster-award.html