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!