Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss

Title: The Twelfth Enchantment
Author: David Liss

Genre: Fiction (England / Regency / Supernatural / Historical Figure)
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House (8/9/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Loved! Another for my top ten of 2011!
Did I finish?: Yes -- I read like a ravenous reader!
One-sentence summary: A young woman discovers more is at stake than her reputation when magic, revolution, and desire collide.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although I might scream if I see this painting used again for a historical novel (especially if it's Regency-era).

First line: The house was astir with activity, which was something most unusual, for its owner, Mr. Richard Lowell, preferred his home to remain a very dour and torpid place.

Did... I get so caught up in this book that I actually read while walking from the subway to work two mornings?: YES. Like I was 12 again, I couldn't stop reading, even at the end of the chapter, and I sleep-walked to work to remain in Lucy's world!

Do... I want Lucy as a BFF?: YES. I like to like my heroines, and in this case, I was with Lucy from the first page. Charming, sweet, authentic, likable, human -- she was a delight.

Did... I develop a hot little crush on Mary Crawford?: YES! I'd say she was a favorite character but frankly, everyone in this novel was a favorite.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy!

Why did I get this book?: The cover grabbed me immediately, followed by the historical setting.

Review: Now this is what I call an inventive magical fantasy. This is the novel I wanted when I started The Magicians. Set in 1811 in Nottingham, the story follows Lucy Derrick, a young woman who has lost everything when her father died, leaving her penniless. Forced to live with a relation who resents her, Lucy finds herself engaged to a cold mill owner, her reputation smarting when one night, none other than Lord Byron shows up at her uncle's house, calling for her to break her engagement.  In the midst of her own personal drama, the countryside is gripped by the Luddite rebellion, and she finds herself caught up in the worker's revolt.

I love everything about this novel.  I love the historical setting and the imaginative, inventive blending of history and fiction.  I adore the development of Lucy and her empowering relationship with Mary Crawford, a woman who taught her that magic was real and could be mastered.  I love the nefariousness of the villains and the Gothic/Romantic style of the book's plot.  I love Liss' writing style.  I love the story's mix of social commentary and escapist fantasy.

What else can I say?  I don't want to go into too much detail about the plot to keep from giving away the fun, but I will say, even if you're not a fantasy fan, give this a try.  This wonderful chunkster (432 pages) is a smart, hist fic summer read, merging bittersweet romance, social commentary, historical detail, and magic.  What's not to love?

*** *** ***


I'm so excited to offer a copy of The Twelfth Enchantment to one lucky reader. To enter, simply comment on my review. Open to US/CA readers, closes 9/2. Check back on 8/22 for my interview with David Liss and another chance to enter the giveaway!


  1. David Liss is a great author - I would love to read this book and such a pity that I can't enter your giveaway because I live on the wrong side of the pont!

  2. Fortunately, I'm on the "right" side of the pond, because I would absolutely LOVE to win this book! I was already eager to read you, but your review bumps it to the top of my list. I've had a couple of disappointing reads lately, and I know David Liss is a wonderful author, so maybe he can provide me with the a fix of historical fantasy that I crave. Thanks for your review and the chance to win a copy!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  3. Oh, definitely throw my name in the hat for this one. You've made me upset that I turned down a spot on the tour! I noticed right away those similar covers, since I have both of the books you linked to. It might be an overused painting, but it sounds like the book is a gem!

    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

  4. I've never read anything by David Liss but this sounds absolutely wonderful! I love a good historical book that blends fantasy, romance and social commentary and it sounds as if Mr. Liss did a great job incorporating all of those elements. Please count me in for the giveaway!


  5. I can't put my finger one which books have used this painting as well, but you're right that it's a bit tired at this point. I wasn't at all interested in this book because the cover was so generic looking to me, but when I took the time to read your review and see what the book is actually about, I couldn't believe I almost passed this one by! It sounds so good, and the fact that you enjoyed it so much to call it one of your favorites of the year speaks volumes. I'd love to be considered for the giveaway.

  6. Oh, wow, your enthusiastic and energetic review have gotten me excited about this previously unknown book! It sounds excellent and like something I shouldn't miss, so I am going ahead and adding it to my wish list, but just to be safe, I will enter your very generous giveaway as well :)!


  7. Wow! I love when a book can incorporate all those different things. Sounds great!

  8. That's the bes feeling ever if you want her as your bff :D

  9. @Anachronist: I'm sorry it's not international! :/ This is my first Liss novel but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be a devoted fan now!

    @Gwendolyn: This absolutely would remove any bad book taste from your mouth!

    @Anna: I think you'd really enjoy this one!

    @Maria: It is amazing the lovely blending of history and magic -- it's a more readable Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

    @Steph: I linked to the two I could think of offhand but it wouldn't surprise me if there were more. Definitely don't let the cover put you off -- this is a *marvelous* novel.

    @Heather: Def, def pick up someday -- SO GOOD.

    @Jenny: Yes!

    @Blodeuedd: Yes -- I do love it when I adore heroines!

  10. Wow, with an endorsement like that who wouldn't want to read this :)! While I don't need to like my heroines it is always nice to do so. It can make for a much more pleasant read. Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. This books definitely sounds right up my alley. I've never read any of Liss' works, but have been meaning to for ages now.

    Thanks for the give away.


  12. I am SO in this one. I'd never heard of it but your review and reaction make it sound perfect for my mood!

  13. Thanks for the great review! I love historical novels.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  14. It has to do with the Luddites?! I'm in.

    I was wondering why the cover seemed so familiar, but I thought it was just the general Regency aspects, not that I'd seen the actual picture on other covers.

    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  15. I love historical fiction novels with romance but this is such a plus with magic too. The fact that it is one of your favorites this year has it on my TBR list right now.

  16. Your review is terrific! It has totally made me want to read this book, especially if you think it is one of the best books of 2011 so far! Thanks so much for a great review and an awesome giveaway:)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  17. I definitely want to be included in this giveaway! I can't wait to read it :)
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  18. This will be my first Liss book when I read it next week, and after this glowing review I am really looking to starting it.

    Don't enter me in the giveaway.

  19. I usually stay away from magic in books, but this looks very interesting to me. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  20. All I can say here is I have to read this book!!


  21. Sounds like a great book! I'd like to win.


  22. I think your enthusiasm for this one has caught me up. I normally stick with Austen for Regency era, but I might make an exception for this if I win it. :)

    I am tired of seeking that cover image though.

    savvyverseandwit at gmail

  23. Hearing good things about this! Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  24. You've sold me! I'm adding it to my to-read list

    arcookson at yahoo dot com

  25. I really want to read this one. Liss is an author I've been intrigued by for years but never actually read. Please enter me! nomadreaderblog at gmail

  26. Typically not my genre but your review made me really want to read it! Thanks for the giveaway!

    cytljjb @ gmail com

  27. thanks for the chance to read this story :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  28. I initially thought I might not want to read this because of all of the magical elements but I have read some great reviews of the book. Thanks for your review.

  29. Can't wait to get my hands on this one. You are right about the painting! I knew I'd seen this cover!

    lsl.scrapper @ gmail dot (you know)

  30. LOVE the whole of it - the packaging - gorgeous cover, the setting and the review of its innards.

  31. Looks like a great book. thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  32. Another that sounds fantastic -- count me in for this one too!

    jmartinez0415 [at] gmail [dot] com

  33. Please enter me in the draw!

    My email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. "inventive magical fantasy" is an excellent description!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. Thanks for being on the tour!

  35. Loved your review-- now I want to read it even more. And that's what TLC is hoping for, right?

    Sign me up for the giveaway-- thanks!

    Laura Hartness
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

    I'll be back on 8/22 for the interview and another chance to enter!

  36. Sign my up for the giveaway. The review made me want to read the book!

    Now off to read the interview!

  37. Ooo this sounds good! Sign me up for the giveaway.


    PS: That painting was also used for 'What Would Mr. Darcy Do?' though, albeit, from a different angle :)

  38. I usually stay away from books involving magic, but this sounds too good to miss.
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  39. I'm looking forward to reading there mixture of genres. Thanks for your review

  40. Interesting. I'm not sure if I would have picked it up after looking at the cover, but after reading your review I'm interested.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I'd love to be entered!

    tardis5445 AT gmail DOT com

  41. Maybe I'm not in the majority, but I like the cover and the one thing I find fascinating about this book is the combination of historical fiction and fantasy. The setting seems so perfect, too - early 1800's England, what better place to stir up magic?

    Thanks again for the opportunity to win a copy of this book - it's definitely on my 'to read' list!

  42. Ooh sounds tempting. I think I'll add this to my TBR pile! :)