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Literature / The Twelfth Enchantment

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The Twelfth Enchantment is a 2011 novel by David Liss. Lucy Derrick is a women of good breeding, and bad repute. When she was 16, she ran off with a man Jonas Morrison, and her tragic life began. Her sister died, her father died, and she was forced to live with her uncle, and his maid, who spend their time making Lucy miserable and trying to marry her off to a mill owner. Things change for Lucy when Lord Byron collapses at her home, leading her into magic and adventure. Will she defeat the mysterious forces gathering against her and all of England? This novel is set against the backdrop of a rapidly industrializing England.

This work includes examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Mary Crawford is imported from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, but is portrayed in a more favorable light, while Fanny Price, the heroine of Austen's novel, is referred to as "something of a simpleton".
  • Arc Words: "Gather the Leaves."
  • Artistic License – History: When Lucy meets Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister, he's described as being in his sixties. In actuality, he was 49 at the time of his death.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lampshaded. When Mrs. Emmett prevents Lucy from summoning a dangerous spirit, she tells her to hang onto the flawed summoning talisman because it might come in useful. Sure enough, it does.
  • Dead All Along: Mary Crawford and Lady Harriett.
  • Golem: Mrs. Emmett. Of the word for truth on forehead type.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Apparently what fairies truly are are zombies. Immortal beings made from the dead.
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  • Historical Domain Character: Lord Byron plays a large part here — both as potential Love Interest and as a partner in magical schemes. William Blake also makes an appearance.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The sacrifice of a friend is stronger than any magic. Ms. Crawford states this in the beginning of the book. She sacrifices herself to save Lucy and England. Ms. Emmett also sacrifices herself to avoid being used against Lucy.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Lucy states that magic is basically a more advanced branch of physics.
  • Changeling Tale: Lucy's niece is switched for a strange hungry creature. Ms. Crawford does this to protect the child from being killed.
  • Ludd Was Right: The view of many characters in this novel such as Mary Crawford and William Blake. General Ludd is apparently an immortal, and the schemes against the Luddites by the brothers of the Rosy Cross are machinations by the revenants to get rid of magic and secure their immortality.
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  • Slut-Shaming: Lucy is considered Defiled Forever because she ran off with Jonas Morrison. He was saving her life in fact. Later this is repeated as people believe that she has had sex with Lord Byron.
  • Take a Third Option: Lucy repeatedly says there must be a way between the mills and the Luddites. There is.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The undying here lose all sense of who they once were, and seek only for safety and their own pleasure. Ms. Crawford allows herself to be killed to avoid this fate.


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