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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sorcery & Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot - Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

Read for the 2009 YA Challenge.

This YA novel, set in an alternate England after the Napoleonic Wars where magic exists, takes the form of letters between cousins Kate and Cecy. Kate’s been sent to London for the Season, and Cecy has stayed at home. Even apart, they manage to find themselves in the midst of a magically flavored, interconnecting adventure.

The story had a firm flavor of Jane Austen about it (I was particularly reminded of an analysis I’d once read of how Austen’s heroes are usually introduced), but with a slightly more modern air of fun. These girls aren’t afraid of just a little bit of possibly scandalous behavior when it’s done for a good cause.

The cast of supporting characters was charming. In Kate’s story, there’s her sister Georgina, mean Aunt Charlotte, and the Mysterious Marquis, Thomas. Cecy has her brother Oliver, James Tarleton, Aunt Elizabeth, Mr. Wrexham and Sir Hilary Bedrick to deal with. Into this mix come the charming Dorothea and her sinister step-mother Miranda. Many members of the cast change places in the story, and it was great fun to see what would happen next.

What I didn’t realize until I read the afterward, is that the authors wrote this book using the Letters Game, actually writing the letters in sequence and exchanging them, with very little discussion of plot beforehand. The stories are interconnected enough that I hadn’t suspected this while reading, but in hindsight can see where the hand-offs of characters didn’t actually occur until approval was granted by the current “owner” of a character. It’s a remarkably well-plotted book, and I’ll definitely be getting my hands on the sequel, The Grand Tour.

5 comments:

Nymeth said...

I really want to read this book. I first heard of it a few months ago and I've been meaning to get it ever since. And now, with your review, I'm tempted to order it right now. It sounds just like my kind of thing.

Megan said...

It had caught my eye at the book store a year or so back and I just finally managed to get my hands on it. I think you'd definitely like it.

J. Kaye said...

I am just gonna say that I love the second half of this title: " The Enchanted Chocolate Pot." Who wouldn't want one of those!?!

Megan said...

Seriously! And it's apparently a lovely blue color, which is my favorite :)

J.C. said...

This was one of my favorite books I read last year.

I also read the sequel, the Grand Tour, but I didn't like it nearly as much.

Not sure if I will read the 3rd book in the series, The Mislaid Magician.