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The Twelfth Enchantment: A Novel [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

David Liss
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Aug. 9 2011
Lucy Derrick is a young woman of good breeding and poor finances. After the death of her beloved father, she is forced to maintain a shabby dignity as the unwanted boarder of her tyrannical uncle, fending off marriage to a local mill owner. But just as she is on the cusp of accepting a life of misery, events take a stunning turn when a handsome stranger—the poet and notorious rake Lord Byron—arrives at her house, stricken by what seems to be a curse, and with a cryptic message for Lucy. Suddenly her unfortunate circumstances are transformed in ways at once astonishing and seemingly impossible.

With the world undergoing an industrial transformation, and with England on the cusp of revolution, Lucy is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy in which her life, and her country’s future, are in the balance. Inexplicably finding herself at the center of cataclysmic events, Lucy is awakened to a world once unknown to her: where magic and mortals collide, and the forces of ancient nature and modern progress are at war for the soul of England . . . and the world. The key to victory may be connected to a cryptic volume whose powers of enchantment are unbounded. Now, challenged by ruthless enemies with ancient powers at their command, Lucy must harness newfound mystical skills to prevent catastrophe and preserve humanity’s future. And enthralled by two exceptional men with designs on her heart, she must master her own desires to claim the destiny she deserves.

The Twelfth Enchantment
is the most captivating work to date of a master literary conjurer.

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Praise for Twelfth Enchantment

"David Liss takes readers on a light-hearted romp through Regency England in The Twelfth Enchantment. With an adroit mix of fact and fantasy, Liss casts heroine Lucy Derrick into a world of industrializing mill towns, mysterious enchantments, ghostly dogs, undead fairies, Luddites, and even Lord Byron and his legions of lovesick women. Charged with gathering the scattered pages of an alchemical manuscript, Lucy’s adventures teach her that appearances can be deceptive—and delightfully so. Liss’s deft touch with historical subject matter and his ability to craft tremendously appealing characters makes this a thoroughly enjoyable, satisfying read."
--Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches

The Devil’s Company
“Accomplished, atmospheric and thoughtful.”—The Washington Post
The Whiskey Rebels
“Smart, page-turning fun.”—St. Petersburg Times
The Ethical Assassin
“[A] page-turning thriller . . . a thought-provoking and highly enjoyable yarn.”—Baltimore Sun
A Spectacle of Corruption
“[A] wonderful book . . . easily one of the year’s best.”—The Boston Globe
The Coffee Trader
“Unusual and diverting . . . Sometimes, as the book demonstrates with a nice twist, sincerity can be the greatest means of deception.”—The New York Times Book Review
A Conspiracy of Paper
“Tremendously smart, assured, and entertaining.”—Newsweek

About the Author

David Liss is the author of The Devil’s Company, The Whiskey Rebels, The Ethical Assassin, A Spectacle of Corruption, The Coffee Trader, and A Conspiracy of Paper, winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and children.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting! Oct. 14 2011
Wow! I just loved this book! If you love Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South) and Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) you should read this. I was surprised to learn that the author was a man, he wrote Lucy so well. Although not a fan of sequels as a rule, I'd love to read more about Lucy. Jane Austen characters abound and the more you know of her books, the more you will enjoy this. So many people seemed so irritated by this book and never having read any of the author's other works I wonder if this is in part because it was a departure for him from his usual voice. The people who disliked it all seem to begin with "I loved his other works..." Anyway, it was recommended to me highly and I am so glad I found it. I took it out from the library but it is one of those books that I am now going to purchase for kindle to add to my collection permanently. Amazon needs half stars - this is a 4.5 but I gave it a five because I think so many people would enjoy it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  80 reviews
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a letdown! Sept. 1 2011
By D. Campbell - Published on
I've been hooked on David Liss since I read the first page of "A Conspiracy of Paper" a couple of years ago. His novels are funny and intricately constructed. I pre-ordered this on the strength of past experience. I was sorely disappointed.

It's not that it's fantasy about the occult: I can suspend disbelief to read about Sookie Stackhouse and am fanatic about Harry Potter. But this book was just plain silly. And not in a good way. I can only believe that Mr. Liss decided to try his hand at occult/fantasy just for a lark.

Lucy Derrick is straight out of Jane Austen, or maybe Dickens, which is fine. But the situations and characters are simultaneously preposterous and predictable. Our heroine, an impoverished young woman of undeserved questionable repute, is for some reason beset by all manner nefarious ill-wishers, living and undead. She lives with a distant uncle who wants to marry her off to a banal mill owner troubled by Luddites. There's no clear motivation for any of the characters to act or react the way they do, except for the fact that they're being controlled by (potential SPOILER) an evil fairy(!) who is Lucy's nemesis, unbeknownst to Lucy. She seems to have some friends, but perhaps they have been bewitched, perhaps not. None of it makes any sense.

Lord Byron (seriously!) is a major player, as is William Blake. In Mr. Liss's other fiction, historical characters make appearances that, while fictional, are not impossible to accept. For example, Alexander Hamilton appears in "The Whiskey Rebels" in a capacity that is reasonable. For the politically-driven plot to advance, Hamilton had to make an appearance. Historical fiction in general uses real people in imagined stories. In "The Twelfth Enchantment", there's no reason why the bewitched potential hero has to be a fictionalized Lord Byron, or why a fictionalized William Blake has to show up. Instead of driving the plot, they bring the reader up short. The reader has to actively disassociate everything he or she knows about Byron or Blake to get back into the story.

"The Twelfth Enchantment" has made me reconsider pre-ordering David Liss's books on the strength of his authorship. Next time I'll wait and see what other reviewers say, and hope that he's back to his usual form.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Magical I Guess Aug. 16 2011
By William Skipper - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perhaps I should recuse myself from reviewing this book, for as a child I found the Hobbit impenetrable. I am indifferent to the world of Harry Potter. The popular vampire books couldn't possibly interest me less.

But I am a very big fan of David Liss's works.

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT starts out with great promise. It's 1812, England. Lucy Derrick is a strong heroine--sort of Jane Austen's next door neighbor, if you will. She's been orphaned, living in penury with a dreadful dreadful uncle and an evil caretaker and is about to be married off to a colorless dolt of a mill owner.

Then Lord Byron (yes, THE Lord Byron) appears at her door. He's apparently suffering under some kind of curse (vomiting pins, no less).

What follows is a very strange adventure into the world of magic, fairies, changelings, immortals, ghosts, zombies and lord knows what else.

It's readable, mainly due to the wonderful historical details that are the hallmark of Liss's books. Lucy Derrick, as I said, is a very strong heroine. The writing itself is gorgeous in places.

However, in the final analysis, magic isn't my bag. I got through it but it was a chore at times.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For a book about magic, there was no magic for me! Sept. 2 2011
By P - Published on
I'm willing to stretch my imagination and accept magic and fairies as a "real" scenario, but this was the driest, biggest stretch of a novel. The characters were annoying and the main premise of the book - saving the world from industrialization - was SO ridiculous as a motivation for all of the action; it was given rather superficial treatment for such a driving force. I found myself constantly asking myself, "Why?" Things seemed so random: Lord Byron made no sense, coincidences right and left. It was a chore to read and disappointing from an author such as Liss.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing Aug. 18 2011
By reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of David Liss' books starting from the wonderful "A Conspiracy of Paper". He has departed significantly from his previous historical fiction in this book, which blends period detail with romance and the supernatural. The heroine in this work has a gift for magic, which drives the remainder of the story. Fairies, witches, and even a Golum appear and Liss' prior use of historical period characters in a story here employs Lord Byron as someone who is intertwined with the occult and is eventually reincarnated as a fairy, and William Blake as a feeble communicator with ghosts. While I love his writing skills, I found this book to require too much suspension of disbelief to be credible, and Liss' foray into popular occult disappointing and beneath him. I do not doubt he will sell many copies, based on our culture's fascination with all things supernatural. However, it is a poor trick. Liss has in the past proved himself able to create far deeper and believable characters than a 19th century Sookie Stackhouse and to write with far greater depth than demonstrated here or by Charlaine Harris. I can only conjecture that our poor economy is driving his writing. I hope he is able to recapture and return to the art that made him a great writer.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just disappointing.... March 9 2012
By Paul J. Heaney - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been a big fan of David Liss' early books. I felt they were well-researched and the stories were believable. After his third book, I have felt the story lines have begun to go down an ever-increasing black hole of unbelievability. In the Twelfth Enchantment, magic and black arts are pulled from nowhere and used with devastating power, and then inexplicably ignored or used incongruently with prior displays; i.e.: if she can do that, than why doesn't she...? Character motivations and backgrounds are odd and wanting - a trait that was so different from Liss' first three books. The fact is that this book is just hollow because the poorly constructed story can't hide in the shadow of Liss' quality writing style. I finished the book, but decided I am unlikely to waste my time on a Liss book ever again. What a huge disappointment.
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