The Twelfth Enchantment

I’ve been running lede sentences through my mind for two days. Yeah, that’s right. Linda Bernstein is actually having problem with a lede. So I decided on this: READ THIS BOOK. YOU’LL LOVE IT. That pretty much sums things up, though I suppose I should go into a bit more detail. David Liss is a consummate historical novelist. In his six previous novels, Liss mostly has concentrated on an economic issue–and turned what could be a dry plot point into a thriller. The whiskey tax in post-revolutionary America? The British East India Company in early 18th-century England? The Amsterdam coffee monopoly in 1669? All of this is fodder for intrigue, terrific characters, and, yes, a good history lesson. Liss has also brought to life Benjamin Weaver: a Jew with a knock-out punch. (I can’t help but be reminded of Michael Chabon saying in the introdution Gentlemen of the Road that he wanted to write a novel called “Jews with Swords.”) In The Twelfth Enchantment, Liss brings on a strong female lead character, Lucy Derrick, who discovers she has all kinds of occult powers as she gets involved with the Luddites and, yes, Lord Byron. I love that William Blake appears as a character, much the way I would imagine him,  so down-to-earth and yet unearthly. I love Liss’s hat tip to Jane Austen (and Trollope): there is a clergyman who fawns in the most revoltingly obsequious manner on a noble-born female patron. In Liss’s book, though, the woman is literally (and I mean literally) a monster. (I like to think that Liss is taking revenge for us all on Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins, going further than the witty snubs Austen dishes out.) This foray into the world of fantasy is not exactly new to Liss, who also also writes comic books. Liss also says it’s a rare day when he doesn’t have an idea for a book. I guess that means I don’t have to wait too long for the next from this extraordinary author. (You can get to the Barnes & Noble site by clicking on the picture. The book comes out 8/9.)