Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: "The Twelfth Enchantment"

David Liss' latest novel is The Twelfth Enchantment (Random House, 2011), something of a departure from his usual historical fiction in that it presumes the existence of magical forces in Regency England (sort of like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell). Lucy Derrick, a young woman with lots of spunk but not much money, being forced into a marriage she doesn't want, suddenly discovers that not only is she very skilled at harnessing magical forces, but also that she's destined to play a role in a very important fight between the forces of good and evil.

More than anything else I found myself wanting more backstory. The plot is well paced and Liss has packed in enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, but I kept finding myself curious about one thing or another and wishing for more explanation. The secret book that Lucy must reassemble, the overall state of magical knowledge in England, the motivations of some of the major players: I wanted more explanation, more of the rich detail that Liss is so good at providing.

Featuring appearances (I won't say cameos since they're fairly substantive) by such real figures as Lord Byron, William Blake, and Spencer Perceval, Liss' novel takes the Luddite movement and puts it into a larger (more fantastical) context. It was a fun, escapist, read, but I just wish Liss had been able to tie up a few of the loose ends more tightly.

1 comment:

Suburbanbanshee said...

Sort of like Stevermer and Wrede, you mean. That Norrell book was a Johnny-come-lately to the subgenre.