Wednesday, November 16, 2011

review: the twelfth enchantment

I know it mostly seems I only review books to grouse about 'em, but this is one I really really enjoyed: The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss. It's a seamless fusion of historical regency and gothic fantasy--I'd say Georgette Heyer and someone gothic, except I can't think of anyone appropriate in the fantasy genre of the time--Charles Dickens, maybe?

Anyway, it's about a poor relation named Lucy, who lost her father, sister and comfortable home, who now lives on the charity of her uncle who wants to marry her off as quickly as possible to the local industrialist. Pretty standard regency fodder--but then Lord Byron wanders into the picture, under the influence of a curse and mumbling mysterious messages for Lucy. While trying to lift his curse, Lucy meets a Woman of Independent Means who becomes a good friend and benefactor--and shows Lucy she has a talent for magic.

Stolen inheritances, sinister suitors, malicious faeries and Luddites all are braided together in an intriguing romp, with a dash of romance that is never cloying and a steadily-accelerating plot that comes to a satisfying conclusion. There's even a touch of women's lib, although it is never anachronistic.

I highly recommend this. It is a fine and masterful balance of plot, character, history, magic, and theme. Fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell will probably enjoy this, although to my mind it is far superior to that constipated opus.

1 comment:

Shirley, surely said...

I will have to put this on my "to read" list, as I'd already put the other book on my "don't bother" list.