Friday, July 29, 2011

REVIEW: The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss + Giveaway

 After the untimely death of her father, Lucy Derrick is forced to board with her uncle who wants her out of his house at all costs.  He means to accomplish this by marrying her off to a Mr. Olson, a local mill owner who has taken an interest in her.  While discussing the marriage they are interrupted by a delirious, disheveled, and handsome young man who delivers a cryptic message and insisting Lucy not marry Mr. Olson before collapsing on their doorstep.  Lucy has never seen this young man before in her life but he is soon identified as Lord Byron and his arrival sweeps Lucy into a world of magic, faeries, and an ancient struggle between good and evil to which Lucy holds the key.  Now she must figure out exactly what her part in all this is, who she should trust and what she should do-a decision that will decide the future of England.

I knew from the very first chapter that this book was going to be completely different from what I expected.  What was I expecting exactly?  A regency period historical about those in favor of the Industrial Revolution vs. those that oppose it with elements of the occult featuring the heroine who is somehow caught up in a great mess yet to be identified.  That is not what I got by a long shot. This book is pure magic and I mean that literally.  It's about magic.  After the unexpected arrival of the handsome stranger, Lucy befriends Mary Crawford who may know how to help the stranger whom everyone believes is cursed. During this effort it is revealed to Lucy that she possesses a great natural talent for magic and that she is key player to an ancient battle against forces who want the Industrial Revolution to succeed which would destroy magic and those who want it to fail to keep magic alive.  Lucy tries to decipher the cryptic message given to her by the young man and continues to have increasingly strange encounters in which she is told to "gather the leaves".  Once she divines the meaning behind this message she embarks on a dangerous mission to do just that.  Full of magic, faeries, ghosts, changelings and a host of otherworldly creatures, Lucy encounters many obstacles in her quest-most notably in Lady Harriet who seeks the same thing Lucy does only for a far more sinister purpose.

Liss builds a host of intriguing characters and writes them in such a way that the reader cannot possibly discern where their true allegiances lie-with Lucy or against her.  Is Mary Crawford friend or foe?  Is Lord Byron genuinely interested in her or a hopeless rake?  Is a past love really the villain she thought he was?  Not only is the reader left guessing what the intentions of these characters are, you are literally guessing at WHAT they are.  Some of them may not even be human!

The only sticking point for me was Lucy's mission to gather the objects she seeks really overshadows the whole Luddites vs. Industrialists theme which is why I would place this book more in the fantasy category than historical fiction-it was much more about the magic than about the historical elements.  Also the objects themselves were always in the possession of someone who was already a player in the story which made it seem a little too convenient.  Despite these two little hang ups, Liss has written a truly unique story here. He has created a likable heroine in Lucy Derrick and a story that you feel compelled to keep reading to find out where it is going to go next (and I guarantee it is never going to be where you think it is going).  As I enjoyed the writing quite a bit, I am curious to see what one of his straight historical novels are like as I own several.  Recommend this for historical fantasy lovers.

 The Twelfth Enchantment is being released on August 9th, 2011

I am offering my galley of the Twelfth Enchantment as part of my Summer of ARCs/Galleys Giveaway so if you are interested in winning, please enter here.  Winner for July will be selected on August 1st.

I received this book from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads Giveaways. These are my honest thoughts on the book.


  1. Thank you for this review - I was on the fence about accepting this for review and ultimately turned it down due to time constraints. I'm glad you told us about the focus on the magic elements - I think I made a good decision on passing on this one. Great review tho.

  2. I'm excited to hear about a new David Liss. This sounds pretty different for him. I'm not sure about combining fantasy and historical fiction but I look forward to reading it. If you haven't read his Ben Weaver series I recommend them.

  3. Hmmm. I got a copy of this for a blog tour, and I must confess I was expecting straight historical fiction.