The Twelfth Enchantment, by David Liss

The Twelfth Enchantment
David Liss' The Twelfth Enchantment is an entertaining mix of magic and Pride and Prejudice romance. It's quite a change from the author of several serious works of historical fiction. When I picked it up, I wondered if the magic part would just be hinted at or explained away. But, no, this really is a work of fantasy. Not that that's a bad thing; it's actually a fun blend. I wonder (and I hope) that Liss turns this into a series.

Our heroine, Lucy Derrick, lives on sufferance at her uncle's house after losing her inheritance and almost ruining herself by running away with a man. (This is 1812.) But after encounters with strange people who disappear, Lucy learns that she has a natural talent for magic. She quickly harnesses that talent to try and improve her lot in life and avoid marriage to a particularly odious mill owner. It soon becomes clear that, for whatever reason, Lucy is a the center of a war between supernaturally backed Luddites and supernaturally backed industrialists for the future of England.

The story twists and turns as Lucy learns more about the conspiracy around her. This is a complex story, and Liss writes it in such a way that you feel betrayed or thwarted when Lucy does. I was surprised just as often as she was. And I very much enjoyed Liss' blending of magic and actual history. The Luddite movement was a very serious near revolution, not just a joking epithet for someone who doesn't like technology. The Industrial Revolution was hugely disruptive and this book takes place right in the middle of a paradigm shift in English society. I would have enjoyed this book even without the supernatural plot.  

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