The Twelfth Enchantment
Lucy Derrick does not want to marry Mr. Olson, a dull mill owner, but as a poor orphan with a damaged reputation, she has little choice. Soon after their engagement, strange things begin to happen. An impossibly handsome man bursts into the house to warn Lucy not to marry Mr. Olson and then passes out cold. Lucy begins to see shadow people who urge her to “gather the leaves.” And a beautiful cunning woman named Mary Crawford befriends Lucy and begins to train her for a dangerous and mysterious task of national importance involving a wordless book of alchemy, the Mutus Liber. While trying to make sense of the magical world she is being drawn into, Lucy finds herself torn between the rakish Lord Byron and Jonas Morrison, the man who broke her heart and ruined her reputation four years earlier.
This novel is a page-turner complete with family drama, secret societies, romance, and a haunted house. It also contains literary nods to Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, Charlotte Brontë, and many others. However, the novel seems rather Frankenstein-like, as if Liss has sewed together bits and pieces of other stories to create this one. It reads as if Elizabeth Bennet goes to Hogwarts, befriends Jonathan Harker and Lord Byron, and together they put down a Luddite rebellion. As a big fan of Liss’s historical fiction, I missed his clever dialogue, rich vocabulary, and careful plotting. But The Twelfth Enchantment was an enjoyable read nonetheless, sure to please readers who enjoy paranormal twists on classic novels.