Monday, August 01, 2011

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT by David Liss

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT - David Liss
Random House (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6896-8
August 2011
Paranormal Historical Fiction

Nottingham, England, 1812

Lucy Derrick's father left her and her sister penniless. Her sister married their cousin, Mr. Buckles, a clergyman appointed by Lady Harriett. His patroness loathed Lucy's rumored character, so Lucy became the unwanted relative of her Uncle Lowell. For four years Lucy has endured Mrs. Quince, her uncle's housekeeper, and the woman's cruelty and taunts about Lucy's past. This is because at sixteen, a charming young man, Jonas Morrison, encouraged Lucy to run away with him. The elopement, while prevented, destroyed her reputation. Her uncle now insists Lucy marry the local hosiery mill owner, Mr. Olson. She has no choice but to agree until the day a stranger creates a scene outside her uncle's front door. He tells Lucy she must 'collect the leaves' and then collapses. A doctor arrives and recommends the stranger needs a 'cunning woman' to remove a curse.

At this point a Regency historical takes a sharp turn into paranormal activity which not only places Lucy increasingly in the center of many strange occurrences and deceptions, but also sends her on an unusual quest. The cunning woman, Mary Crawford, shows Lucy she has magical talent, and lets her cure the stranger who turns out to be Lord Byron! In gratitude to Lucy, Lord Byron provides her with a copy of her father's real will, the one that left her well off. All this alerts Lucy to the reality that things aren't what they seem to be.

Not only do all of the characters mentioned want something from Lucy that she knows nothing about, but they also wish her ill. Lucy must quickly become confident and assertive in her quest. This action takes place against the background of the Luddite Rebellion and the war with France. All these crazy twists create a suspenseful story filled with evil characters. Lucy, while naive, shines as a star of civility and goodness. Soon she is striving to learn her craft and embrace her quest to find a new path for her future.

While packed with stunning events and amazing situations, the explanations often slow progress. Lucy is the only character the reader truly gets to know. In part this is due to the secretive nature of all of the other characters, or to the information they seek to keep hidden from Lucy. Readers will enjoy the wonderfully developed setting and Lucy's adventures, but may find the details and nature of this universe difficult to absorb. There is a subtle romance, but the paranormal aspect predominates. THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT is an entertaining read with a charming fairytale flavor.

Robin Lee

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