Lucy Derrick is a young woman of good breeding and poor finances. After the death of her beloved father, she is forced to maintain a shabby dignity as the unwanted boarder of her tyrannical uncle, fending off marriage to a local mill owner. But just as she is on the cusp of accepting a life of misery, events take a stunning turn when a handsome stranger - the poet and notorious rake Lord Byron - arrives at her house, stricken by what seems to be a curse, and with a cryptic message for Lucy. Suddenly her unfortunate circumstances are transformed in ways at once astonishing and seemingly impossible.
With the world undergoing an industrial transformation, and with England on the cusp of revolution, Lucy is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy in which her life, and her country’s future, are in the balance. Inexplicably finding herself at the center of cataclysmic events, Lucy is awakened to a world once unknown to her: where magic and mortals collide, and the forces of ancient nature and modern progress are at war for the soul of England... and the world. The key to victory may be connected to a cryptic volume whose powers of enchantment are unbounded.
Now, challenged by ruthless enemies with ancient powers at their command, Lucy must harness newfound mystical skills to prevent catastrophe and preserve humanity’s future. And enthralled by two exceptional men with designs on her heart, she must master her own desires to claim the destiny she deserves. The Twelfth Enchantment is the most captivating work to date of a master literary conjurer.
©2011 David Liss (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Really enjoyed this book. Reminded me of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, and Persuasion by Jane Austen. The story arc isn't surprising, but it's a wonderful listen all the same. Worth the credit!
Let me start by saying that while I love historical fiction, I'm not a fan of fantasies or mysteries. So if you are into ghosts, faeiries, revenants, sorcerers, devil dogs, and the like, you will probably enjoy this book more than I did. My interest was held more by the arrival of literary figures Lord Byron and William Blake and the depiction of the burgeoning industrialization of England.
The novel's young heroine, Lucy Derrick, has been cheated out of her inheritance and almost cheated out of her reputation. Her quest is to set the first wrong aright and to overcome the second. When evil forces replace her baby niece with an evil changeling, Lucy's search for the pages of an ancient mystical book and her desire to defeat her--and England's--enemies accelerate. Along the way, Liss throws in a bit of romance. (After all, who could NOT be attracted to the handsome Lord Byron?)
As others have mentioned, there were a few holes in the story, places where more background information would have helped. And Lucy seemed at times a bit too naive, even for a young woman of the eighteenth century. But the writing was lively and the book generally held my attention. Recommended for those who like their history blended with fantasy.
David Liss is one of my favorite authors and I have greatly enjoyed all of his other books. Therefore, I was happy to purchase this one as well, and looked forward to losing myself in another one of his stories. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, as I was unable to stomach the monotone and strangely off-putting sound of the narrator.
Having looked at the other reviews, I took the time to preview the narrator in order to make sure it was a voice I could listen to for a length of time. During the preview the narrator seemed tolerable. However upon beginning the book I realized that the preview did not adequately impart to me the annoying quality of her voice. If she added a bit of inflection once in a while; if she didn't sound as though she was affecting her accent; if...well "if" a lot of things... I really, really tried to like the sound of her voice, and ignored the thought of "god this is bad" for as long as I could before finally giving in to the fact that I simply would be unable to continue (although I really, really wished I could like it).
I wish I had spent the money buying the actual book instead of the audio version, as I am fairly sure that this will end up sitting in my library without being listened to. What are the odds Brilliance Audio will re-record the book with a decent narrator? Fairly low I'm guessing, and that is too bad...
Oh well, at least I know which books NOT to buy because of the narrator!
The Twelfth Enchantment - David Liss
audio performance by Susan Duerden
It is possible that Lucy Derrick escaped from the pages of an unknown Jane Austin novel before becoming trapped in this elaborately (or perhaps randomly) plotted fantasy by David Liss. The recently orphaned and impoverished Lucy lives in England at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The country is gripped by the violence of the Luddite uprising, while Lucy is occupied with repelling her avaricious uncle in his plans to marry her off to a rich but disgusting mill owner. And, then there is the problem of her burgeoning magical powers and the arrival of a bewitched Lord Byron. This sounds like an engaging fantasy that I would really enjoy.
I’m not sure that I can fairly evaluate this book, because, the audio performance destroyed the narrative. I loved Susan Duerdon’s performance in the multi-voiced Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but her reading of this book was annoying, to say the least. Her uplifted breathy inflection turned every statement into an implied question and her incredulous, little girl voice missed the wry, Austenesque, humor that David Liss was trying to inject.
I might have enjoyed a print copy of the book more than the audio, but nothing would clear up the muddled nature of this book’s magical forces and the convoluted plot. I found the story to be mildly entertaining and almost immediately forgettable.
I wanted to like this book. I think I would like the plot. I may at some point buy it in book format and read it. But the narration was so bad I could not get through the first 30 minutes of the audiobook. It was just uncomfortable at first, but when I got to the part where a strange man at her door starts calling out the main character's name, the sound was so grating I had to stop listening immediately.
I tried to read two Lisa Kleypas books read by the same narrator recently and couldn't finish them either. At the time I thought it was just her awful interpretation of Russian accents. If not for the, unfortunately, major Russian character in each book I thought I could have finished them.
However, after trying The Twelfth Enchantment, I have to accept that Ms. Duerden is a permanent fixture on my list of "Narrators that Guarantee I will Never Read that Book". Fortunately, it is a fairly short list.
I listened because I loved the Whiskey Rebels, but this book is not as good. Comfortable because of familiar characters but the plot of the book is woven into magic spells and charms that are hard (at least for me) to believe.
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