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The Twelfth Enchantment
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The Twelfth Enchantment

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3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  1,709 ratings  ·  371 reviews
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 notori ...more
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Random House
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
lemme crank this out before the hurricane steals all my power!

elizabeth already took care of all the austen allusions in this book - which is good of her, because i sure didn't get any of them. austen ladies - someday i will understand you, i promise! but i am here to mostly focus on the byron stuff, cuz that's what i do.

i always thought that david liss was a veryserious author, and the men (almost exclusively men) asking for his books always looked veryserious, so this rather lightweight tale o
...more
Deborah Harkness
A wonderful book. Highly recommended to fans of Jane Austen, as well as fans of Jonathan Strange.
Wealhtheow
This was an interesting--and unexpected--twist on Pride&Prejudice. Before the book even begins, the character based on Elizabeth dies, leaving her father and sisters at a loss. The Jane analog is thus coerced into marriage to pseudo Mr.Collins, and the Lydia analog's reputation is ruined when she runs off with the pseudo Wickham. Years later, Lydia--named Lucy Derrick here--is living a miserable existance as an unwanted poor relation. The only bright spot is her new friend Mary Crawford, a b ...more
Emily
Sep 06, 2014 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
This book is a little disappointing on its own merits, but considering it's by the excellent David Liss, it's quite disappointing indeed. (And I notice that many of the readers who are giving it positive reviews aren't readers of his earlier work.)
"There are forces in motion. Dangerous forces. Chief among these are what people are apt to call fairies or elves. Do not laugh, for this is serious." (154)
This advice is difficult for a fan of Liss's previous work: bloodily concrete adventures of men
...more
Angelc
So, I admit, the reason I wanted to read this book is because I love all things Lord Byron. I assumed he wouldn't really be in the book much, but I was wrong. Byron was actually a pretty central character in the story. The author took a lot of liberties with a real historical figure, some of it worked for me, some of it didn't. It didn't bother me at the beginning, but things got very, very strange at the end and I started to wonder why he didn't just invent a purely fictional character. Nonethe ...more
E
Oh historical fiction, with pelisses and carriages, and magic! How I love you! Didn't know David Liss had this in him! yay!

Extended review here
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
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 mids ...more
Jo Anne B
This was a big let down. I recently read "The Conspiracy of Paper" by David Liss and loved it. I was really looking forward to this book but for some reason as soon as I started reading it, I knew it was not going to be good. The writing was juvenile, bland and unpoetic for this time period piece, unlike in his former book. The only thing this book has in common with his other work is that both stories involve searching for missing papers. Others have compared this to Jane Austen and that could ...more
Joe
avid Liss has been one of my favourite contemporary writers since I discovered his debut novel, A Conspiracy of Paper in 2000.

I was surprised that his latest book, released last year, The Twelfth Enchantment (Random House,) fell under my radar.

But after I read it, my surprise turned to disappointment.

Whether it’s the early days of the London Stock Exchange, the 1722 general election in England, or even the formation of the National Bank in America, most of Liss’ novels tend to be historical mys
...more
Maia B.
There's quite a bit of Jane Austen here. There's also quite a bit of something a lot like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. There's also quite a bit more mediocrity than can be found in either of them.

Jane Austen: the creator of six basically perfect novels, a writer still wildly popular, the inspiration for more sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and rip-offs than any other writer ever. Jonathan Strange etc: a clever, intelligent, funny, thought-provoking novel with depth, well-researched, well-wri
...more
Christy B
Miss Lucy Derrick is a young woman in Regency England who is living with her uncle, who does not want her there. And trust me, she does not want to be there either, but she has no choice. While there, a particular ordinary day becomes extraordinary when a deranged young man arrives at her uncle's door, demanding Lucy's audience. He tells her not to marry the man she's engaged to, a Mr. Olsen, and then proceeds to collapse.

This sets off a series of events that changes Lucy's life forever, change
...more
Farin
David Liss and I don't exactly have the best track record: I've tried to read The Devil's Company twice, and both times I had to concede defeat. There was something about the pace and the constant digressions in the narrative that prevented me from getting completely involved in the story. Needless to say, I was a little wary when I picked up The Twelfth Enchantment, but it sounded like a very different book, and several authors and bloggers I respect enjoyed it, so while the East Coast was bunk ...more
Staci
First thought after closing the book: "That was just silly!"

I thought this book would be so much better than it turned out. After reading the synopsis, it sounded like a great fantasy book set during Regency England (a time period which I adore)and right about the time of the industrial revolution. The reader gets a lot of information about how bad the mills are and the how evil the owners treat their workers. At times I felt as if I was being clobbered over the head with all the morality and ho
...more
Michael
DL is one of my favorites. One of the best out there. Brilliant. I went and got Twelfth Enchantment as soon as it came out. Same as I do anything he writes. And when I was in the store I bought The Coffee Trader and A Spectacle of Corruption for my dad, which is a big deal because it's hard to find something so great that I think he will feel the same way. Bridging generations and all that... I hate to say it. I really do. But I did not like this one at all. I suppose it's meant for teenage girl ...more
Mark

David Liss is one of my favorite authors, and I reluctantly give this one less star than I normally would, because I felt he tried overly hard to tap into the current Harry Potter-Twilight-Da Vinci Code mania for magic and otherworldly creatures without giving up on his usual strengths in historical fiction, and I'm not sure the marriage made for one of his most successful efforts.

Nevertheless, I stayed with the book all the way through, because he is that good a writer -- strong characters, goo
...more
Matthew
I would probably give this a 2 1/2 stars. It had some interesting ideas in it and the setting had some potential, but the writing was really, really bad. I was shocked to find out this author had multiple books under his belt, as well as an award, because his writing was almost amateurish.

First off, the historical elements of the book never seem natural. It always feels like he's including stuff just because he read about it in a book, as opposed to using those elements to create a realistic set
...more
Elizabeth
Blake and Byron; Luddites and the philosopher's stone; mills and revenants; curates and Rosicrucians; the world Austen made and the darkness of the world that hides beneath it — I find it almost impossible to express how much I enjoyed this wonderful book. I began reading it last night and read late into the wee hours, then finished it early this afternoon, completely and utterly absorbed in the world it presented.

Lucy Derrick is living out an unhappy ending to an Austen novel in the shadow of t
...more
Kati Bowditch
Won this as a Goodreads First read.

A wonderful, light romp through the darkness of Victorian life with a dash of magic thrown in. The book follows one young woman of reduced means trying to make her way. An unwanted marriage looming she receives a strange visit one night that sets off a series of events that have her learning independence and taking note of the larger world around her. Add to that a whole aspect of alchemy and the fun begins!

I definitely enjoyed this book with it's mesh of indu
...more
Beth
I really liked David Liss' book, The Coffee Trader. But I found The Twelfth Enchantment to be completely non-gripping. I could hardly find the energy to drag my eyes across the pages.

Lucy Derrick is orphaned and compelled to live with an uncaring uncle in Nottingham. Although she had no knowledge that magic, fairies, ghosts, etc., she soon learns of her own talents with magic and gets caught up in a struggle between the common working man and a new world of machine power.

I wanted to like the no
...more
Mari
I enjoyed this very much actually, but there was something about it that is keeping me to a three star rating. Maybe I've read too much Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. (Is there even such a thing as too much Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen?) It was very satisfying personally, but I was in the mood for this type of book. Witty historical romances are very comforting for me, and when I need one, I'm willing to read with my critical eye mostly turned off. What my mostly asleep critical eye did catc ...more
T.J. Silverio
I thoroughly enjoyed The Twelfth Enchantment. David Liss provides us with a tale woven from elements of mystery, adventure, and magic while cross-stitching it with historical characters like Lord Byron and the Luddites. From the very first page you settle in knowing you are in the hands of a good storyteller. His ability to draw our attention to the details of early 19th Century England and confront us with the plight of young unwed women and the working class of that period is exceptional.

We fo
...more
Chris
I absolutely loved this! It was just what I needed - the sort of book that keeps me up and night and distracts me from my day to day stuff. I have loved every David Liss book I've read and this one was a treat because it's about magic and alchemy and I didn't even realize that when I picked it up.
Lucy has a predestined life and is in a powerful position of being a key player in balancing the magical beings who stand for the past and the modern industrial revolution. With spells and curses, Lord
...more
Carl
Feb 09, 2014 Carl added it
Recommended to Carl by: Kevin Plotkin
What do we do with genre? Do we pigeonhole authors based on where they have come from, generically; can we even start fresh, without preconceptions, when one ventures beyond his or her established domain?

These questions arose for me when I started this novel. I knew Liss as the historical-fiction master behind The Coffee Trader. Make no mistake: this novel is historical fiction, and in no way has Liss dropped the ball in his ability to use history to make a compelling story. Witness the vibrant
...more
Debbie
This fantasy novel also had elements of mystery, romance and historic fiction. The heroin, Miss Lucy Derrick has become an outcast in society. Her reputation was ruined when she was 16 and ran off with a young man without her family's approval or knowledge. Her father locates her shortly after her eldest sister, Emily dies under mysterious circumstances. Shortly after, Lucy forms a different relationship with her father, where in he begins to educate Lucy in Greek, Latin and Hebrew as well as di ...more
Jgrace
The Twelfth Enchantment - David Liss
audio performance by Susan Duerden
3 stars

It is possible that Lucy Derrick escaped from the pages of an unknown Jane Austin novel before becoming trapped in this elaborately (or perhaps randomly) plotted fantasy by David Liss. The recently orphaned and impoverished Lucy lives in England at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The country is gripped by the violence of the Luddite uprising, while Lucy is occupied with repelling her avaricious uncle in hi
...more
Bonnieb
Liss frames this historical fiction in the early 19th century, as England was transitioning from individual weavers and craftspeople to an industrial economy. Liss shows the pain, the battle between the Luddites and the manufacturers, as he tells an historical fiction with ‘magic’…yes, magic…written into the story. This was a very different approach to historical fiction for Liss, whose novels I have come to appreciate and anticipate. I had trouble completing this novel, but once done felt it w ...more
Laura
"Bad Narration Strikes Again!"

I wanted to like this book. I think I would like the plot. I may at some point buy it in book format and read it. But the narration was so bad I could not get through the first 30 minutes of the audiobook. It was just uncomfortable at first, but when I got to the part where a strange man at her door starts calling out the main character's name, the sound was so grating I had to stop listening immediately.

I tried to read two Lisa Kleypas books read by the same narra
...more
Wendy Bousfield

After the death of their father leaves his daughters penniless, Lucy is forced to live with an unpleasant distant relative and his vicious housekeeper, Mrs. Quince. Lucy seeks independence and financial security through marriage to an exploitative mill owner, Mr. Olson, whom she neither loves nor admires. A dreary visit from her fiancé is interrupted by the appearance of a beautiful, disheveled man (Lord Byron, we later learn), who proclaims that Lucy must not marry Mr. Olson and says, enigmatic
...more
Beverly J.
A charming book,well written. A nice reminder that is magic is all around, the dark forces are always there and can be overcome.
Katy Ennis
Absolutely fantastic. I loved every minute of this book. It was well written, smart, and had something very rare, a smart heroine. It is a rare book indeed that I don't at some point want to reach into the book and smack the heroine for doing something so completely stupid. I loved the magic, the romance, and the fact that the mystery lasted to the very last chapter. I devoured this book as fast as my schedule would allow. Others have complained that this book was not on par with others written ...more
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27874
I am a novelist living in San Antonio, Texas, though, for the record, I am not from Texas. I just live here. I have four novels published: A Conspiracy of Paper (which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel) and A Spectacle of Corruption were both national bestsellers. They are set in 18th century London and feature Benjamin Weaver, a Jewish former pugilist, thief-taker for hire. Weaver will be ...more
More about David Liss...
A Conspiracy of Paper (Benjamin Weaver, #1) The Coffee Trader The Whiskey Rebels The Devil's Company (Benjamin Weaver, #3) A Spectacle of Corruption (Benjamin Weaver, #2)

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“What had passed between them had been real and true and lived. Not like the silly infatuation she had felt for [him] when she was 16, or the foolish attraction she’d felt. Theirs had been a true love. Forged and built and earned.” 5 likes
“Lucy absently thanked him and at once began to consider which among her gowns would be best suited for a midnight adventure to a gothic castle.” 2 likes
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