Misty's Reviews > The Twelfth Enchantment

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss
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Aug 31, 12

bookshelves: own, arc-or-galley, historical, read-in-2011, supernatural-paranormal, review-copy-accepted
Read from December 03 to 09, 2011

Now, this one is not strictly a Jane Austen retelling, I know. But it is set in Regency England, and it does use a certain Mary Crawford (of Mansfield Park) as a character, so I feel completely justified in including it here. I read a pretty early copy, which I think may have detracted from the book (it sometimes felt a little scattered and I wanted some editing and trimming), but I'm going to set that aside on the assumption that these things were improved (though I guess you never know).  On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It was very inventive, combining real world events, Regency politics, and figures (like Byron), as well as fictional characters, mythology, and a gothic novel mentality to create an engagingly over-the-top read. Mary Crawford isn't the only thing to get it Austen points, as Liss style was at times decidedly Austenesque, even though his subject matter was not. Though sometimes over-written, much of the time Liss captured something really interesting, and the consistent tone had a great historical feel, even when intentionally historically inaccurate.

The plot was a bit too rambling for my tastes, which is part of what makes me hesitant to whole-heartedly recommend it, and until it really got going, I would put it down and not feel really compelled to pick it up again, which makes it harder for me to push a book. But it has a charm to it that does make me want to recommend it. It reminds me a bit of the Thursday Next books in that, if you are familiar with the literature and goings-on of the time, there are lots of little in-jokes and allusions to keep you amused. If you're not, this may end up really hard to follow. I mean, it's hard to love a book about the Luddite revolution (and how it's actually all related back to magic) if you don't know what a Luddite is. In the end, I think this will really come down to personal preference for people, and whether it will suit them as a reader; it's no the type of book to push on everyone, but for those suited to it, this will be a big hit.

Verdict: Read an excerpt of it at your bookstore/library/online, and if engages you, buy it. If it makes you only curious, borrow it. If it confuses you, skip it.
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