The Twelfth Enchantment: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Aug 9 2011
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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
PRAISE FOR DAVID LISS
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
As a fan of historical fiction, particularly of the Regency era, this book immediately caught my eye and I'm happy to say The Twelfth Enchantment was a delight to read.
We start off to find Lucy Derrick in a predicament worthy of Jane Austen: penniless and beholden to an unkind and distant relative, suffering the petty degradations of such a situation and being coerced into a bleakly loveless marriage. Unable to see any escape from her current suffering but to take on the equally unappealing status of wife of Mr. Olsen, local mill owner, Lucy is about to accept her fate of a life of unhappiness. All that changes, however, when none other than Lord Byron appears at her uncle's door, begging her not to marry her betrothed.
To fully understand the import of such an event, you have to realize that Lord Byron was the rock star of his age. The young, beautiful, bad boy of the British aristocracy who brought countless well bred women to their knees swooning.
What comes next is a wonderful mystery, worthy of Charles Dickens, with twists and turns and people who turn out not to be exactly what they appear. And these characters are wonderful, full bodied, quirky people, each one of which was a delight to read, particularly the villains who were absolutely delicious!! Add to all of that a wonderful magical element and a quest to save the world and you've got a wonderful story that's near impossible to put down.
The perfect blend of history, mystery, fantasy and myth; The Twelfth Enchantment is a must read for anyone looking for a book with a strong story and an even stronger heroine!