The Twelfth Enchantment

The Twelfth Enchantment

By: David Liss

davidliss.com

(Historical Fiction/Fantasy)

This 19th century historical fiction novel blurs the line between magic and alchemy, with secret societies, and appearances by Lord Byron, so naturally I loved it.  However, for some inexplicable reason, I found I was reading it very slowly.  Perhaps I was just in a slow reading kind of mood, or maybe the misery of the main character and how unfairly she was treated was a little bit of a turn off.  These elements are completely necessary to the story of course, but that still might have slowed my pace a bit.  That all changed once I was down to the last hundred pages or so.  What had taken weeks to slowly absorb, I wrapped up easily in one day.  By that point in the story everything starts to come together beautifully and surprising details are revealed about characters and events introduced in the first three hundred pages.

The main character, Lucy Derrick, is gutsy but painfully aware of her limitations, and I appreciated the honesty in that.  How does a young woman in nineteenth century England truly fight evil while keeping within the inflexible boundaries of society?  To put it simply, I liked her, and I’m a little surprised that such a convincing female character was written by a male author.

At the very beginning of the story Lucy is instructed to “gather the leaves,” and I love what that phrase comes to mean later in the book.  I also happened to  learn a new word as a result of reading this book…so that’s always nice.  It was used twice, and now I don’t think I’ll ever forget it: Somnambulist: a sleepwalker

*** SPOILERS! ***

Normally, I like to stay away from specifics, but there was one thing I wanted to comment on anyway.  So if you have any plans to read this book you might want to stop here.  Read on at your own risk.  (Highlight to read)

This might not be that much of a spoiler really, but I just had to mention the awesomeness of the Mutus Liber.  A book without words.  A simple concept and yet captivating at the same time.  This object was so well described with it’s bizarre imagery, and the energy it seemed to possess within its pages, that I truly wished I could hold it in real life.  The book felt very real, which made Lucy’s quest for it all the more meaningful.

Overall, this was a good read, with it’s combination of historical events, magic spells, and characters who aren’t what they first appear to be.  I’ll have to have a look at David Liss’ other books the next time I’m craving some historical fiction.  Until then…

Happy Reading!

The 13th Hour

The 13th Hour

By: Richard Doetsch

richarddoetsch.com

(Thriller)

So I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but this one caught my eye.  Once again, as much as I think of myself as a “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” kind of person, the cover art draws me in.  Oh well, I guess that’s why it’s there in the first place.  Score one for good marketing.  I liked this one because it had a slight supernatural element to it, setting it a part from every other thriller.

The story opens with the main character detained at the local police station accused of his wife’s murder…only he didn’t do it.  He obtains a mysterious pocket watch that allows him to travel back in time in hour increments, giving him a chance to set things right.  In the process he uncovers a whole conspiracy and the true cause of his wife’s death.  It’s a really fast read.  I finished it in a few days.  So if you’re looking for a quick read, or a fast paced thriller that’s just a little different from the more predictable specimens of the genre, I highly recommend it.  I think I’ll have to look for his other books too.  Until next time…

Happy Reading! 🙂

Scarlet

ScarletScarlet

By: Stephen Lawhead

www.stephenlawhead.com

I’d like to apologize first and foremost for not reviewing the first book in the series, Hood, since it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I will mention a few things about it in reviewing Scarlet.

The first thing I have to say about this book is a big THANK YOU! to Mr. Lawhead for providing an extremely useful pronunciation guide at the front of the book.  In a story with so many Welsh/Celtic names, it’s nice to be able to pronounce them at least somewhat properly in my head rather than butchering them completely.  I absolutely hate it when I can’t figure out how to say a name, and I find it makes it more difficult to remember the character.

This series, starting with Hood, is a more historically realistic retelling of Robin Hood, or Rhi Bran Hud, as he is called in this story, which translates to King Raven the Enchanter.  This telling is set in Wales in a forest known as the March, rather than Sherwood Forest.  Merian, Friar Tuck, and Little John are represented, if not with those exact names.

Now, onto the story.  I was a little surprised at first how this story focuses on the trials and tribulations of one Will Scarlet and his association with Bran who we met in the first book.  I was expecting this story to be a continuation of Bran’s story, but I really liked this different point of view.  We are introduced to Will, in his prison cell, as he relates his tale to a priest while awaiting his execution.  The more he relates the more you really want him to make it out of this alive, even if it seems his fate is sealed.  I found I liked this story a bit more than the first for some reason.  Perhaps it had a bit more action.  I thought Hood was a little slower than I anticipated, but I think that comes primarily from comparing it to fantasy novels.  This series is essentially historical fiction with only the slightest touch of the supernatural in the form of Angharad, a bard and adviser to Bran and his group of refugees.  Since this is not a fantasy novel, there aren’t countless monsters and supernatural challenges to face, only mortal, flesh and blood, people, so that can slow things down just a bit.  That being said, I really liked it.  I like this history and the medieval politics.  The characters are like able, except for the ones not meant to be, and those are as infuriating as possible.  I look forward to the conclusion of the series, Tuck.  Hopefully everything will turn out well for these poor people and Bran will get his land back.  It’s unlikely, but I can hope.

Happy Reading!

The series is as follows: Hood, Scarlet, Tuck

Incarceron

Incarceron

By: Catherine Fisher

www.catherine-fisher.com

I tend to stay away form books in the young adult category these days, since I most definitely don’t belong to that age group anymore, but I heard good things about this book, and the cover art was fascinating, so I had to give it a try.  This is one of those books that is enjoyable regardless of age, even with the main characters being around 16, and I really enjoyed it.   The characters were likeable and interesting with the Warden’s daughter who doesn’t like to follow the rules, and the boy-prisoner with no memory of who he is.

The story’s setting carries some steam-punk elements, both in the outside world as well as the prison itself, making the setting of the story as interesting as the adventure itself.  At the beginning of each chapter is a different italicized snippet of information that slowly informs the reader about the world and the prison and how they came to be, which I found to be far more refreshing than an introduction or character just laying it all out there in one go.

The whole story wraps up with a nifty twist of an ending that some may see coming if they are particularly observant.  Over all, I think it was a great quick read for readers of nearly any age and I definitely recommend it.  If you happen to read a lot of YA fiction, I suggest looking into the many other books written by this author, even if I have yet to read them myself.  There is also a sequel to Incarceron out now entitled Sapphique.

Happy Reading!