I kept seeing this book at my bookstore and finally gave in one day when I was feeling a slight reading slump coming on. I’m glad I picked it up that day because when the slump hit, this was a perfect little book to bring me out of it. The characters are sweet, lovingly hateful, and were Austen-esque enough to make me happy.
Lucy Derrick comes from a good family; just a family without money now. She lives with an uncle who would prefer her to disappear and his plan to make this happen is to have her marry a man she doesn’t care for one bit. Her only companion in the house, Mrs. Quince, teases her relentlessly mentally and physically. She begins to accept that her life is going to be full of misery until a man named Lord Byron shows up at her uncle’s home saying she must not marry Mr. Olson. He then vomits pins and passes out. With the help of a new neighbor, Ms. Crawford, who knows something of the magical arts, Lucy helps Lord Byron to recover. Ms. Crawford, seeing a magical spark in Lucy, begins teaching her what she knows and Lucy understands for the first time how her life does not have to be one of misery.
The beginning of this book feels very reminiscent of Mansfield Park. A young woman far from loved ones, harassed and unwanted in the home she lives in, knowing her only way out the house is into another full of the same misery. Mansfield Park is by far not one of my favorite Austen books but this book brought back some lovely memories of it. Mostly of the hateful characters but still good memories.
The magical element is interesting and Lucy’s understanding of it happens quickly. A little too quickly if you ask me and that’s a small quibble I had with this story. She excels; exponentially fast. I’m all for magical education compounding but she’s like the magical god-child. It didn’t ruin the story for me but made me wonder at several points how she became so proficient so quickly.
When I picked this book up I was hoping for a fun and easy read and I got that. It’s entertaining, the characters are fun, some even mean, and you love to see them all make fools of themselves. The setting, England on the cusp of an industrial revolution, is interesting. If you have a thing for Victorian England with a little magic thrown it, take a look at this one.
The Twelfth Enchantment
By David Liss