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The Twelfth Enchantment

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  2,560 ratings  ·  465 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, 403 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Random House
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3.46  · 
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 ·  2,560 ratings  ·  465 reviews

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Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Deborah Harkness
A wonderful book. Highly recommended to fans of Jane Austen, as well as fans of Jonathan Strange.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
David Liss has written some amazing novels about intrigue and machinations in historical eras, featuring men trying to salvage their honor and/or make a fast buck off the suffering of others. In "The Twelfth Enchantment", he employs a different tactic: a female lead, Lucy Derrick, who finds herself plunged into a mysterious world of magic and evil in Regency England.

The premise is undoubtedly enticing. Built on a foundation of the Jane Austen-heroine-with-nothing, Lucy is penniless, orphaned, es
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Part ‘Pride & Prejudice’, part ‘Dracula’, part ‘Harry Potter’… mostly rubbish.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Dec 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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 mid ...more
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: already-own-read
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
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
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
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book could have been wonderful, should have been wonderful, but wasn't. I bought it on the recommendation of Deborah Harkness, whose book I loved. I wanted to love this. I liked the characters and the author's style of writing, but the magic part of this story did not work for me: so sad. I will read other books by David Liss and hope for more.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bonnie Wilson
I had hopes for this since I'd read "A Conspiracy of Paper" by the same author, and though I found it slow, it was not unintelligent. I was also intrigued by a cover promising Lord Byron AND echoes of Jane Austen.

While "Enchantment" starts out sprightly and mildly amusing, it gets quite repetitive throughout the middle as our heroine goes through the same sequence of encountering a problem and then so fortuitously discovering a magical fix. And it devolves almost to pastiche - echoes not only o
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read, with supernatural elements but far from silly and sensational. This is another brilliant piece of writing from the author who has become one of my top favorites, which is a real page turner while never losing psychological depth and scope of imaginative world-building. I have read many other novels by this author, all of which were superb historical fictions with no supernatural sides to them. This one threw me a bit at first, but by the time I was done I was willing to read anyth ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it

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
I enjoyed this story quite a lot. The mystery sucked me in and didn't let me go. I enjoyed learning that there was a magical reason behind the Industrial Revolution and Luddite attacks. I especially liked the quirky secondary characters, some drawn from Jane Austen, some from real life and others fictional. They added some much-needed (dark) humor to the story. At first I did not like Lucy, thinking she was meek and dull (Fanny Price, maybe?) but she grew a lot as the story went on and I really ...more
Christy B
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Diane S ☔
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
3.5 Set in the regency period Lucy has been defrauded of the money left to her by her father and is at the mercy of her uncle. Enter Lord Byron, Shelly, Beau Brummel, magic, the Rosecrans
and romance. Unlike anything that Liss has written, love his historical fiction, yet it is entertaining if a bit farfetched. But I enjoyed it.
Christine Nolfi
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Twelfth Enchantment provides a satisfying blend of the magical with historical events in a well-crafted book.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is what Pride and Prejudice and Zombies tried to be and failed. It is also the closest thing I have encountered to Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but with a female protagonist, and I absolutely loved it. The magic is interesting without being overwhelming, thankfully there are no overwrought world-building sequences. The characters all have numerous conflicting motivations- no black and white good guys/bad guys. Everyone essentially falls out on one side or another, but complicated peopl ...more
Kimberly Karalius
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so exciting I can’t even. The plot twists, of which there were many, happened at such a whiplash speed that I was in awe. And I couldn’t put the book down! I love how Liss portrayed Blake, but I’m still not sure how I feel about Byron. There were such great Byron moments in the book, and I know he was pretty awful in real life, but it was difficult to pin him down.
There is no way this will not sound like damning with faint praise but this was a very nice regency magic novel considering it was written by a man!
Waverly Fitzgerald
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, fantasy
This is also on my top ten list for the year, third behind Lab Girl by Hope Jahren and The Pillow Book by Suzanne Buffam. a fantastic novel that draws you into its complex world slowly until you are as enchanted as the main character.
Wendy Bousfield
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy

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
Aug 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: at-library, fantasy

Very slow start -- the exposition seems to take the first quarter of the book, at least, at the end of the third quarter, this reader is still unclear as to the nature of magic as it relates to the novel. (Addendum: still fuzzy on that after getting to the end.)

I wonder if the author finds female characters difficult to write or understand? The main character, Lucy, holds fast to her reputation and her virginity, despite revelations of magic, an ability to perform spells, death, revenants, f
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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 t ...more
Diane Goldman
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!

Author David Liss turns Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" on its head, brings in the effects of the Industrial Revolution on ordinary working people, has the characters practice magic as if it is real, and throws in some historical characters such as Lord Byron and William Blake. It does hang together!

So, what do I mean about turning P & P on its head? It takes place after the events in P & P, and the characters are different - still the sisters (though Liss eliminate
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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
“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.” 8 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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