Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 30 days
Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

Read preview

Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

ratings:
4.5/5 (80 ratings)
Length:
337 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 22, 2012
ISBN:
9781453254677
Format:
Book

Editor's Note

Unique take on Regency Britain…

Though considered YA, the letters between cousins Kate and Cecelia have a mature air, with witty banter rivaling Austen’s in “Pride and Prejudice” and magical descriptions of London society like those in “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”.

Description

Two girls contend with sorcery in England’s Regency age
Since they were children, cousins Kate and Cecelia have been inseparable. But in 1817, as they approach adulthood, their families force them to spend a summer apart. As Cecelia fights boredom in her small country town, Kate visits London to mingle with the brightest lights of English society. At the initiation of a powerful magician into the Royal College of Wizards, Kate finds herself alone with a mysterious witch who offers her a sip from a chocolate pot. When Kate refuses the drink, the chocolate burns through her dress and the witch disappears. It seems that strange forces are convening to destroy a beloved wizard, and only Kate and Cecelia can stop the plot. But for two girls who have to contend with the pressures of choosing dresses and beaux for their debuts, deadly magic is only one of their concerns. This ebook features illustrated biographies of Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the authors’ personal collections. 
Publisher:
Released:
May 22, 2012
ISBN:
9781453254677
Format:
Book

About the author

For over twenty years, Patricia C. Wrede (b. 1953) has expanded the boundaries of young-adult fantasy writing. Her first novel, Shadow Magic (1982), introduced Lyra, a magical world in which she set four more novels. Her other series include the Enchanted Forest Chronicles; the Cecelia and Kate novels, co-written with Caroline Stevermer; the Mairelon books, which take place in Regency England; and the Old-West Frontier Magic series. Wrede lives and works in Minnesota.


Related to Sorcery & Cecelia

Related Articles

Book Preview

Sorcery & Cecelia - Patricia C. Wrede

Stevermer

8 April 1817

Rushton Manor, Essex

Dearest Kate,

It is dreadfully flat here since you have been gone, and it only makes it worse to imagine all the things I shall be missing. I wish Aunt Elizabeth were not so set against my having a Season this year. She is still annoyed about the incident with the goat, and says that to let the pair of us loose on London would ruin us both for good, and spoil Georgy’s chances into the bargain. I think this is quite unjust, but there is no persuading her. (I believe the fact that she would have been obliged to share a house with Aunt Charlotte, should she and I have come to London this year, may have contributed to her decision.) So I rely on you, dearest cousin, to write and tell me everything! If I am not to be allowed to enjoy a Season of my own, I can at least take a vicarious delight in your and Georgina’s triumph! I am quite convinced you will take London by storm.

Not that we are without amusement in Essex; quite the contrary! Aunt Elizabeth and I called at the vicarage yesterday and spent a stimulating afternoon listening to the Reverend Fitzwilliam discoursing on the Vanities of Society and the Emptiness of Worldly Pleasures. Aunt Elizabeth hung on every word, and we are to return and take tea on Thursday. I am determined to have the headache Thursday, if I have to hit myself with a rock to do it.

There is, however, a ray of hope. Lady Tarleton is to have a party for her niece next week. The invitation arrived this morning, and Papa says we are to go! And Aunt Elizabeth approves! She thinks it is to be an informal hop, as Lady Tarleton’s niece is not yet out, but Patience Everslee told me in the greatest confidence that there is to be waltzing! I only hope Oliver will stay long enough to accompany us. He has been moping around the house like a sick sheep ever since you and Georgy left, and yesterday he asked Papa, very casually, whether Papa did not think it would be a good idea for him to go to Town this year for a week or two. He thinks he is being very sly, but if he puts off making his arrangements for another day or so Papa will have accepted Lady Tarleton’s invitation and Oliver will be obliged to stay here until after the party. I have not, of course, pointed this out to him. Oliver has stated many times his dislike of hearing advice from his younger sister, so it is his own fault if he has not got sense enough to see which way the wind is blowing.

Aunt Elizabeth intends for the two of us to pay a call on Lady Tarleton and her niece on Monday, by way of improving our acquaintance before the ball (which is to say, she wants to have a look at the niece). I shall be on my best behavior, even if the niece turns out to be quite odious. There is no point in looking for difficulties the day before a party.

And there may be more excitement to come. Sir Hilary Bedrick has just been named to the Royal College of Wizards; the whole village is buzzing with the news. I suspect he was chosen because of that enormous library of musty old spellbooks at Bedrick Hall. He left yesterday for London, where he will be installed, but all of us expect great things when he returns. Except, of course, for Aunt Elizabeth, who looks at me sideways and says darkly that magic is for heathens and cannibals, not for decent folk. Perhaps that is why she holds Sir Hilary in such dislike. I would wager my best kid gloves that if it were not for Papa’s interest in the historical portions of Sir Hilary’s library, Aunt Elizabeth would have cut the connection ages ago.

Do, please, try to find me those silks I asked you about before you left, and if you should happen to see a pair of long gloves that would match my green crape, please, please send them at once! I should so like to look well at Lady Tarleton’s party.

Give my love to Georgy and Aunt Charlotte, and do try not to let Aunt Charlotte bully you too much. And do, do write and tell me everything you are doing!

Your loving cousin,,

Cecy

10 April 1817

11 Berkeley Square, London

Dear Cecy,

If you’ve been forced to listen to Reverend Fitzwilliam on the subject of the emptiness of worldly pleasures for hours together, I feel I ought to write something bracing to cheer you up. But after three days of a London Season I find it hard to come to the defense of frivolity with any spirit. Perhaps it will make Rushton seem more amusing to you if I complain vigorously. (Don’t worry, I haven’t said a word to anyone else, not even Georgina.)

First, there was our arrival in Berkeley Square, a very welcome event after a day spent in the coach with Aunt Charlotte complaining of her migraine and Georgina exclaiming, Only look, a sedan chair! at every opportunity. It was very late and we were very tired and soiled with our travels, too weary to feel the proper emotions on entering such a grand house for the first time. (Horace Walpole is by no means Aunt Charlotte’s favorite author, but the opportunity to hire the genuine Mayfair town house he genuinely died in for the Season has given her a new appreciation of him and his works.)

Make no mistake, it is very grand. On the outside it is a high, narrow, polite-looking house built of brick. On the inside there is a high-ceilinged entrance hall with a marble staircase winding up two flights. On either side of the hall are reception rooms. The one on the right is called the blue saloon. It is very comfortable with a bow window overlooking the Square. On the left side of the hall is the drawing room, much grander than the blue saloon, furnished with lyre-back chairs, delicate sofas, and a spinet. There are velvet curtains in the windows and a highly polished marble floor, upon which I slipped and sat down hard as we were being shown about the house. This was my first piece of clumsiness in London, but I suspect it will not be my last. The general effect of the marble floor and ivory curtains is almost arctic. Only touches of primrose and black relieve the whiteness. At the top of the two flights of stairs are the bedrooms. Georgina’s looks out over the Square and mine faces back into the lane behind the house. If I crane my neck I can see down into the kitchen garden—but there is nothing much to look at. Nothing to compare with the gardens at Rushton.

It seemed like a dream to me, following Georgina up and up the stairs—she like a kind of angel climbing to her proper place, her golden hair bright in the light from the lamps—me like a ramshackle shadow lurking after her, shedding hairpins and stumbling over the hem of my skirts.

The bedrooms are lovely, but that night they seemed grand and cold and I was a little dismayed to find myself in my own room all alone—can you credit it, after I schemed for years to get a room to myself? So I slipped in to Georgina to say good night and get my top buttons undone. Georgina was sitting at her window, trying to guess from the darkened glass what direction she was facing so she could say her prayers toward home. I turned her around and didn’t tease her, even when I saw the lock of hair she had clenched in her moist little palm—Oliver’s, tied up in a bit of pink ribbon. Can you believe it?

Well, as I say, I got her pointed in the right direction and she got me unbuttoned and told me that I had a smut rubbed clear across my forehead and a spot coming on my chin. (As if I hadn’t been driven half-mad feeling it coming out all day long in the coach…) So we parted, she to her prayers and I to my bed, the highest, hardest, narrowest, dampest bed on four lion’s paws (London would be grander still if they knew how to air their sheets).

Our first day in London was spent shopping, which means I kicked my heels while Aunt Charlotte and the modiste went into raptures over Georgina. The second day, we were taken to see the Elgin Marbles, which was interesting, and to listen to other people see the Elgin Marbles, which would make the eyes roll right back in your head with boredom. The third day, we went back to shopping and I was able to get gloves. Please find enclosed a pair that I think will suit your pomona green crape to perfection. I bought a pair for myself and have spilt coffee on them already. So you see London hasn’t changed me yet.

I feel quite envious about Lady Tarleton’s dance. Aunt Charlotte has spoken of Almack’s but never yet without looking at me and giving a little shudder of apprehension. She intends to call on Lady Jersey tomorrow. If their acquaintance has been exaggerated (and you know that sometimes people do not care quite as much for Aunt Charlotte as she thinks they do), I don’t know how we will obtain vouchers. It is plain, however, that without vouchers for Almack’s Assembly, Georgy will never truly shine in Society, no matter how lovely she is. For my own sake, I hope I get to go, too. It would be a shame to have trodden Robert Penwood’s feet black and blue learning to dance and then never to get a chance to put it to the test.

Do you think a wizard’s installation would be a ladylike thing to attend? We passed the Royal College on the way to the Museum and I’m sure I could find my way.

Do tell me all about the dance and mention Oliver a little so Georgina doesn’t sigh herself away entirely.

Love,

Kate

14 April 1817

Rushton Manor, Essex

Dearest Kate,

Your letter arrived this morning, and I refuse to believe it. London cannot possibly be as dreary as you make it seem! I am quite persuaded that you are roasting me, in order to make me feel better about being left behind. Pray do not; I am most eager to learn what I may look forward to next year.

Yes, Kate, it seems I am to have my Season after all! This afternoon Aunt Elizabeth took me to call on Lady Tarleton, to make the acquaintance of the niece, Miss Dorothea Griscomb. I was determined to dislike her, for I had seen her driving through the village the day before, and she is nearly as lovely as Georgina! Her hair is paler than Georgy’s, and I am sure that without crimping it would be quite straight, but Dorothea’s eyes are a deeper blue and her figure is already elegant and graceful. I was sure she would be odious, for you must admit that females as pretty as Georgy are, in general, quite spoiled. I was, therefore, expecting the worst.

When we arrived, Lady Tarleton and Dorothea were already ensconced in the drawing room with Mrs. Everslee and Patience. Mrs. Everslee was looking quite put out; I believe she was hoping that with Georgy in London, Patience would come into her own. Dorothea was sitting in a corner, staring down at her teacup with a miserably uncomfortable expression, Lady Tarleton was looking stiff, and Patience was casting about desperately for a way to persuade her mother that it was time to go. I conclude from this that Mrs. Everslee had been saying something cutting.

Our appearance provided the opportunity Patience had been seeking, and Aunt Elizabeth and I soon found ourselves the only callers. I felt rather sorry for Dorothea. So I sat down beside her and tried to engage her in conversation.

I was not, at first, successful. Dorothea turned out to be quite shy, and I was reduced to insipid commonplaces about the weather and how good the cream pastries were. I was about to abandon the attempt in despair, when by the luckiest chance she said something about India.

India! I said. You mean you have lived in India? Oh, do tell me all about it!

My excessive enthusiasm was as much the result of relief at having finally found a subject of conversation as it was due to any desire to hear about foreign climes. However, Dorothea opened up wonderfully to such encouragement, which gave me the opportunity of replenishing my supply of tea, ginger biscuits, and cream pastries. Dorothea was, apparently, born in India, and did not even see England until she was eight years old. Her Papa, of whom she seems touchingly fond, made a great fortune there, and she showed me a carved ivory bracelet she had brought back with her. By the time she finished telling me about her childhood, we were fast friends, and she brought herself to ask me very softly about the people she would see at Lady Tarleton’s party.

I did the best I could to explain who she was likely to see, as well as who would not be present. My cousins, Kate and Georgina Talgarth, have already gone to London for the Season, I said (with considerable regret). And Sir Hilary Bedrick is away as well; he is to be invested as a member of the Royal College of Wizards this very week! I glanced at Aunt Elizabeth and lowered my voice. "It is a great pity that the Mysterious Marquis is not in residence, for I am sure your aunt must have sent him an invitation card. But then, he never is in residence."

The Mysterious Marquis? Dorothea said warily. Who is that?

The Marquis of Schofield, I said. He owns an estate about ten miles from Bedrick Hall, but he never visits it. I suppose Waycross is too small a property for him to bother with, compared to Schofield Castle.

Oh, that’s not it at all, Dorothea said, then looked very frightened. It took me several minutes and two ginger biscuits to persuade her to tell me what she meant by such a comment. Apparently her Mama has some acquaintance with the Mysterious Marquis, and Dorothea overheard her say that the Marquis and Sir Hilary had some sort of falling-out long ago. The reason the Marquis never visits Waycross is that it is too near Bedrick Hall. I was disappointed to discover that Dorothea knew no more than that, but I did not like to press her. Her Mama must be a veritable dragon, for Dorothea was quite terrified of telling me even as much as she did.

Aunt Elizabeth overheard us and said quite sharply that the Marquis of Schofield’s affairs were not a proper topic for young ladies, so I think it very probable that the Marquis is a great rake. I find this somewhat comforting, for I was quite cast down to discover that his reasons for avoiding Essex are so ordinary. Anyone who is known as the Mysterious Marquis ought to have far more interesting reasons for his behavior than a stupid dispute with Sir Hilary.

Lady Tarleton seemed quite pleased that Dorothea and I got on so well. She went so far as to inquire from Aunt Elizabeth whether I was to make my curtsey to Society next year, saying that it would be pleasant for Dorothea to have some acquaintances in Town when she makes her come-out. Well, what could Aunt Elizabeth do but agree? I made sure to bring it up to Papa as soon as we got home, and I shall keep talking about it until everyone takes it for granted that I am to be presented next year. I only wish that it could have happened sooner, so that you and I could have gone together. What fun we must have had!

Thank you a million times for the gloves; they match my dress perfectly. I shall cut quite a dash at Lady Tarleton’s dance tomorrow! I wish I had your eye for color, but try as I may, I cannot manage to match anything except muddy browns. Which is exceedingly odd, as even Aunt Elizabeth admits that I have an instinct for which colors look best on people. Speaking of which, I do hope you have not allowed Aunt Charlotte to have all your new dresses made up in insipid blues. She thinks that because something looks well on Georgina it must be becoming to everyone. Last year she tried to persuade me to let her buy me a lilac pelisse just because it was stunning on Georgy, and you know I look awful in lilac.

The house in Berkeley Square sounds perfectly sumptuous; I do wish I could see it. Have you been receiving many callers? Reverend Fitzwilliam says (with evident disapproval) that all people do in London is shop and receive callers and go to teas and parties. And does your bed truly have lion’s paws, or are you bamming me?

I thought the Elgin Marbles sounded very interesting, but Oliver says it is a great deal of fuss to be made over a lot of broken statues. He is still wandering gloomily about the house like a bad imitation of Lord Byron. (And I do not understand why someone as proper as Oliver wishes to copy such a rackety character.) He plans to leave for London the day after tomorrow, as he is promised to be at Lady Tarleton’s. I shall save this letter to finish after the dance, so that I can tell you all about it.

I’m sure it would be entirely proper for you to attend Sir Hilary’s installation; after all, we have known him forever. Honesty compels me to add that Aunt Elizabeth would certainly disagree with me, but that is only because she disapproves of magic and magicians. Patience Everslee thinks it is because she suffered a Grave Disappointment in her Youth, but I simply cannot picture Aunt Elizabeth in such a situation.

16 April

Lady Tarleton’s dance was last night, and, oh, Kate, what a lot I have to tell you!

We left Rushton Manor at about eight. I wore my pomona green crape and your gloves, and the little gold locket that Mama left me. Papa looked very well, though a little rumpled as always. Oliver was surly but elegant in silk breeches, a dark green dress coat, and an enormous cravat, which he proudly informed me was knotted in a style called the Mathematical. And you would not have recognized Aunt Elizabeth! She wore a stunning gown in gold silk and a necklace of amber beads, and looked most elegant.

We are not, of course, such great friends of the Tarletons as to have been invited to the dinner beforehand. When we arrived at Tarleton Hall, the dinner things had already been cleared. Lady Tarleton and Dorothea were greeting their guests, and Tarleton Hall was already beginning to fill up. Simply everyone was there; quite a number of persons appear to have left off going to London until later, so as to attend the party.

The dining room at Tarleton Hall is enormous; it’s easily four times the size of the sitting room at home. The ceiling is painted with wreaths and medallions, and there must have been a hundred candles in tall, four-armed stands all around the room! I know that by now you must have seen far grander things in London, but it was quite the loveliest sight I have ever beheld.

And Patience was right—there was waltzing! At first Aunt Elizabeth would only allow me to dance the country dances, but then Lady Tarleton came to my rescue. She persuaded Aunt Elizabeth that it would be unexceptionable for me to waltz at a private party, and even got her son James to stand up with me. He is as dark-haired as I am and quite good-looking, and he dresses with great elegance. (Just before we left, I heard Oliver ask him about his style of tying his cravat, which is apparently something quite out of the common way. Mr. Tarleton gave him a set-down, of course, and I must say I think Oliver deserved it.)

I minded my steps most carefully, and only trod on Mr. Tarleton’s toes once, which was not my fault. For when I asked whether he would be returning to London for the rest of the Season (just making conversation, which I have always been told is essential when one is dancing with a gentleman), he looked so very black that I could not help stumbling a little. He apologized very nicely and said that he would be staying at Tarleton Hall and not going back to London. On thinking it over later, I find it very strange, for you remember that Robert Penwood told us that since his return from the army, Mr. Tarleton considers the country entirely flat, which is why he has seldom visited Tarleton Hall in the past. Though now that I think of it, I do not know how Robert could be sure of such a thing.

Mr. Tarleton is an excellent dancer, much better than Robert or Jack, and I was disappointed when the music ended and he escorted me back to Aunt Elizabeth and Papa. To my surprise, he stayed to speak with Papa—some question of a difficult line in a Greek manuscript he was translating, on which Mr. Tarleton wanted an opinion. Naturally, Papa was perfectly willing to go off with him then and there. Aunt Elizabeth was very nearly as miffed as I, for she had told Papa most particularly before we ever left Rushton Manor that he was not to vanish into Lord Tarleton’s library. I must add, however, that Papa and Mr. Tarleton were not gone above a quarter of an hour, which makes me think that Mr. Tarleton must have a great deal of address. I have never known anyone who could persuade Papa to abandon an interesting manuscript. And I could tell he found it interesting from the manner of questions he put to Mr. Tarleton. Nonetheless, Aunt Elizabeth maintains that they both behaved disgracefully.

Dorothea was perfectly lovely. All the men were quite smitten with her, and I must tell you, Kate, that Oliver was among them. He behaved quite foolishly, even after Aunt Elizabeth reminded him most sharply that it is not at all the thing to dance more than twice with the same lady. She made him escort me in to supper at the end of the evening, which put both of us out of temper—Oliver because he had hoped to claim Dorothea’s hand, and me, because there is nothing quite so lowering as having one’s brother take one in to supper as though there was no one else who wanted to. Even the excellence of the refreshments (lobster patties, savory pastries, and those wonderful little lemon tartlets, among other things) was not enough to soothe my feelings.

Oliver still intends to leave for London today (really, he must do so, because the arrangements have all been made and he has several commissions from Papa to execute), but now he speaks of cutting his visit short, and I know it is only because Dorothea is staying on with Lady Tarleton for another month. Do not show this letter to Georgina; there is no point in your having to cope with Georgy’s reaction to this news when it is all Oliver’s fault. Besides, I hope that seeing Georgy again will bring Oliver to his senses. Unfortunately, one cannot depend upon such things, however much one would like to.

And it is not Dorothea’s fault in the least, for I promise you, Kate, she did not encourage him in the slightest. She did not encourage anyone in the slightest, that I could see; they all just buzzed around her like so many bees. She and I are to go riding together tomorrow, which I think unexceptionable, as Oliver will be well on his way to London by then. But what on earth am I to do when he returns? For you know Oliver; he will make a great push to join us in everything, just as he used to do with the two of us and Georgina. And I will not be a party to it. Georgy may be a selfish pea-goose, but she does not deserve such treatment. I must simply hope that you will have good news of Oliver to send me, so that I shall not have to fret over this impossible situation.

Yours in haste,

Cecy

20 April 1817

11 Berkeley Square, London

Dear Cecy,

It is the outside of enough for you to say I am bamming you just because London hasn’t changed Aunt Charlotte a jot, nor Georgina, save to make her more of a watering pot than ever, and if I am to be accused by you, in addition to everyone else, of telling tales when I explain to you what happened to me at Sir

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

Reviews

What people think about Sorcery & Cecelia

4.3
80 ratings / 59 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Was good. I guess I ultimately prefer living the action rather than reading letters about it, but the plot was intriguing enough to hold my attention.
  • (5/5)
    Love this book! A hysterically funny tale about two cousin and a magical conspiracy that will change their lives. Set in a wonderful AU of historical London.
  • (5/5)
    Great read-aloud book!
  • (5/5)
    If you like fantasy and Jane Austen, read this book. I just finished it and it is absolutely delightful. I have to request the sequel. If no one has the sequel I will cry.

    This is the story of two cousins, told in letters written between the two when one is in Essex (where they both live) and one is in London. It was written by the authors, Patricia Wrede writing as Kate, and Caroline Stevermer writing as Cecelia, which creates a very believable difference in voice between the two. And here's the kicker: until they finished the whole thing they didn't discuss the plot. And yet it makes sense.

    The story itself is very sweet, amusing, and, as long as you don't object to magic, very very clean. I give it a hearty thumbs up to slightly more mature readers.
  • (4/5)
    Thoroughly enjoyable! Can't wait to read the next one
  • (4/5)
    I was delighted to discover when I finished "Sorcery and Cecilia" that the book had started its life as a game between the two authors, who developed two fictional personae and worked out the whole novel writing letters to one another. I think that the novel benefits and suffers from its source; there is a a spark and liveliness to it that I think (I hope?) comes from the excitement and fun of its making; but it also ultimately lacks the tender flesh and heart of a novel with only one author. It's a bit jumbled, and the characters could use more development; but it also hearkens back to a whole venerable tradition of novel writing (the epistolary novel) and revives it in a new and contemporary form.

    Actually, I'm positively delighted that this book exists. It's witty and erudite while also being a pure romp...it's innovative and not at all full of itself. It was a great - and very fast - read.

    Cecilia and Kate are the letter writers; each girl has her own villain, her own beau, her own magical gifts...and they unite to unravel one big mystery. This air of us-against-the-world, sensible girls who can accomplish anything if they just have enough pluck, friendship founded in honesty and loyalty and plain good fun makes for a satisfying read.

    The girls are easy to identify with and the book is written in a style that somehow manages to make a boring tea party and a magical battle more or less equally matter of fact.
  • (4/5)
    If I entered all the Regency romance novels I read in high school, I'm sure I would be number one on the "Top Readers" list.
    So, this book hit me just in the right spot. Loved it. (Even though I usually hate epistolary novels)
  • (3/5)
    I read this book intermittently over a couple weeks, and didn't pay nearly enough attention to how the plot all fit together. I will have to reread it some time.

    I really enjoyed the richness of the setting - the depiction of Regency England*, the complex magical setting, and the characters' own backgrounds and histories, which were three-dimensional and completely believable.

    It's an epistolary novel, and because it was actually written initially as a letter game between the two authors, the wonderfully twisty plot has some weak points due to lack of planning (some of the characters never become as complex as they should, for instance.) The parallelism between the two sides of the story is also a little intrusive, especially the parallel love stories.

    Also, while Cecilia and Kate are both very strong, interesting characters, in tandem they become a bit interchangeable - I started out feeling I could tell them apart easily, but this sense faded. However, they are cousins who grew up together, and so perhaps they really just do think and act alike in many ways - I think this is somewhat implied in the text.

    It's definitely a very enjoyable, fun, Jane Austen-y read. I look forward to reading the sequel!

    *I did have a problem with the characters referring to too many of their acquaintances by their first names. Maybe it was a concession to the YA readership, but my understanding is that this would be very rare.
  • (4/5)
    This is a cross between Jane Austen and Harry Potter. Delightful. A good book for the younger set as well as adults looking for a little fun read. The two authors actually wrote this as letters between the two characters - the final format of the book - without any plan for the plot.
  • (3/5)
    A perfect little froth of a book, told in a series of letters and set in a magical Regency England. There is a mystery, a touch of mayhem, just enough romance to recall Heyer at her sparkly best, and a good feeling of fun. A fine book for reading while lying on the couch languishing with a cold, as one can stop for a sneezing fit or a nap and pick up the plot without missing a beat. Kate and Cecelia make fine company to chicken soup and hot tea, being neither exasperatingly hollow-headed nor too irritatingly smart, sexy, and competent (besides, leather pants were not the thing for young ladies of quality at that period of time.) The rest of the series will be acquired and consumed as soon as possible.
  • (4/5)
    I read and enjoyed this book as a teenager. I enjoyed it even more rereading as an adult, with greater familiarity with Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and Regency romance in general.
  • (4/5)
    This book is absolute delightful. It's light, funny, and original. It consists of letters between the two protagonists, an idea that is very well carried out.
  • (4/5)
    This is one of the books that was on my wishlist the longest, since long before I joined LT.What a great fun read! An epistolary novel that works terrifically. The world is alternate universe where magic is common, but not ubiquitous.It is 1817 and one young lady is off to London to do the season. The other stays at home, and their correspondence begins. The one in London meets the odious Marquis, the one in the country learns of a magical plot connected with the Marquis, and both young women are drawn into retrieving the magical chocolate plot as well as trying to figure out just who is the bad magician and what is he/she up to.Lots of wry comments regarding the mores of the era, Austen-esque.
  • (4/5)
    Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer meet Harry Potter - what's not to love? This was a really cute book. I was glad that someone had suggested reading the "Afterward" first, because it helped understand how the book worked. In fact, I think I'm going to suggest the Letter Game to our Creative Writing Club here at school. Anyway, it was a fun read - I definitely recommend it.
  • (4/5)
    This was very fun and charming. I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was a wonderful way for two authors to collaborate on a book. Cecelia and Kate are cousins; Kate is whisked off to London with her older sister by her Aunt Charlotte for the Season, while Cecelia says at home in Rushton. And conveniently, they two find come across an evil magical plot that is taking place in both London and Rushton.I'm extremely impressed at how the two authors wove the plot together, even knowing they had some heavy editing to do at the end of the letter-writing.A quick and light-hearted read.(I still don't know quite what a chocolate pot looks like, despite the cover image of the blue jug - it just doesn't seem very pot-like to me and I have trouble associating it with a chocolate pot.)
  • (4/5)
    Review:Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede 2012 edition4 STARS This is an interesting background to writing a novel. They played a game called a letter game and would write letters back and forth in character and not mention plot. Now days if kids did that it would be short texts. I enjoyed it but would have been better if I read it instead of listening to my kindle. It broke and I could not look at screen if I was lost.(did not handle evacuating very well.) Thier is nothing in hear that is objectional unless you believe magic is wrong. The story two main characters never come in contact with each other except by letters. Kate and Cecelia are cousins and quite close till the summer of 1817. Kate was sent to come out for a season in London and Cecelia at home in her small country home. The two cousins tell each other everything that is going on. Thier is a world of magic that exists. This story is different and as an air of uniqueness to it. As they both battle in thier way against evil and find love along the way. I was given this ebook to read in exchange of honest review from Netgalley. 05/22/2012 PUB Open Road
  • (4/5)
    A fun story, based on a creative concept, which I discovered by chance on Amazon. Set in Regency England, after the Napoleonic Wars, Cecelia 'Cecy' Rushton and Kate Talgarth are cousins and best friends, corresponding in best Austen fashion while Kate enjoys her first Season in London. Kate is staying with her Aunt Charlotte, Cecy with Aunt Elizabeth at Rushton Manor, Essex - or it could be the other way around - and both girls meet mysterious suitors who seem to be involved in a magical conspiracy.I did enjoy reading Wrede and Stevermer's debut novel, which is a sort of Austen primer for young adults, with just enough Georgette Heyer slang ('peagoose', caper-witted', 'the outside of enough', etc.) thrown in to be authentic and not obnoxious, but the trouble is that I never really learned to tell the flimsy characters apart. Kate and Cecy's adventures are mirrored to the point of confusion, with the same cast of supporting family and friends on either side - aunts, suitors, magical enemies - and the girls' narratives lack distinct 'voices', which is ironic, considering that the two authors were playing 'the Letter Game' and writing in reply to each other. Yet while I was reading and could keep up with who was who, Kate and Cecy's light banter and Wodehousian escapades, with a sprinkle of spells, charms and magic chocolate pots thrown in, was pleasantly entertaining and amusing. I liked the blend of wit and whimsy, like the enchanted chess pieces, and the innocence of the romance between Cecy and James and Kate and Thomas the 'Odious Marquis'.I'm in two minds whether to continue with the series, but even if I don't, I shall certainly keep this first novel as a light and lively fairytale!
  • (5/5)
    I adore this book. If I had a check list of things that I love, very nearly every box would be ticked against this little gem. Regency England setting and period pieces? Check. Fantasy elements that work with the narrative instead of overshadowing it? Check. Feisty heroines who overcome the twin hurdles of murderous antagonists as well as restrictive social conventions? Double check.It might be easy for me to write this off as fluff or as a guilty pleasure if I hadn't first read it when I was probably 11 or so. While both of the co-narrators of this book are fun, it is Kate, and the author Carline Stevermer behind her, that really shines. Stevermer comes across is much more comfortable behind the pen (she doesn't lean on adverbs the way that Wrede has a tendency of doing here) and as such, Kate pops off the page. As a young girl just beginning to understand my own strengths, weakness, and expected place in society, to hear a more assured, older voice describing Kate's various misadventures (falling down, breaking things, spilling things, tearing things, getting lost, etc.) was a God-send. It was the first time I had seen a heroine who wasn't coordinated or always on top of things. Instead, she was funny and observant, which was in my mind even better. To take this out of the personal and make it more broad, Kate is the kind of heroine that women and girls might take for granted now that we have Bridget Jones and all of her lesser carbon copies. But there's nothing simple or fluffy about a young woman who speaks her mind, who refuses to subjugate what is practical for what is proper, who takes her faults on the chin without much complaint or excessive embarrassment, and who is able to win the day by just being herself.I've noticed some of the other reviews point out plot holes, inconsistencies, narrative conveniences or time period inaccuracies. And I myself have taken a similar hard line with books much more acclaimed than this one. But when it comes down to it, some nineteen years later, I can still pick up this book (and I do, about once every year) and immediately feel like I am sitting down with a friend, with a sister. And if that feeling is invaluable to me as an adult, I can even begin to tell you how priceless it was to me as a girl.
  • (5/5)
    It took me more than a few letters to get the characters sorted properly. Once I did, I fell in love with the lead characters, the setting, and how the authors made me feel I really was in Regency England.
  • (3/5)
    A sweet diversion in letters between two clever girls on the verge of being presented to society.
  • (4/5)
    Cute - fun fluff. The gimmick is amusing, and nicely executed - I suspect that having two professional writers writing the letters made it work much better than most Letter Games, not to mention having the two of them edit it afterward and rationalize all the loose bits. As a story, it's pretty stupid - rationally so, though, as men in that situation probably would refuse to inform 'delicate maidens' of all the complications they were suffering under. Kate and Cecelia are a funny pair. Georgy actually is more interesting - or at least leaves me with more questions, after that last scene with Kate. I'm more interested in the universe than in any of the characters, unlike in Wrede's Mairelon series - there the universe is _nearly_ as interesting as the characters. And very similar to this one, actually - Regency with magic. Anyway. Fun, I'll probably reread, but I doubt it will ever be a real favorite.
  • (2/5)
    What an awful, pretentious, utterly twee little novel this is. I really don't understand the effusive praise for it that I have seen these last few years whenever the question of good YA fantasy comes up. Perhaps my dislike of the book is stronger because of all the praise, but I had to force myself to finish it, and the whole time that I was reading it, I was nitpicking at just about every aspect of the writing and plot.The story begins when cousins Kate and Cecy are split apart - Kate is going to London for her Season along with sister Georgiana and Aunt Charlotte, while Kate must stay at home in Essex with brother Oliver and Aunt Elizabeth. It is immediately evident that this is an alternate version of history, because in the opening letter of the novel, Cecy informs Kate that their neighbor Sir Hilary Bedrick has been named to the Royal College of Wizards. In Kate's reply, she informs Cecy that she has snuck into the ceremony, and in doing so, entangled herself in some sort of mysterious and dangerous plot.As the girls continue to exchange letters throughout the Season of 1817, the plot escalates like a runaway train heading down a hill, with events piling on top of each other and all sorts of close scrapes. The girls attempt to unravel the magic plot while keeping all knowledge of it from their guardians and their enemies, and meanwhile they must attend all sorts of balls and teas and other fashionable events of the time, with so much concern over deportment and dress. Of course, romance plays a part as well, with a false engagement that seems to cover-up a true love even from the beginning (no one could tell me that it isn't completely obvious from the start, even if Kate claims to utterly loathe Thomas from the moment they meet - likewise, the young man that Cecy argues with and claims to have complete distaste for).There seems to be no sign of the story coming to a climax or final section until it suddenly does, with the sudden and precipitous arrival of adults who Know Everything and are Capable of Handling the Problem, which of course neither Cecy nor Kate nor any of the other people they were conspiring with to solve the plot could do. Shortly thereafter, each of the villains plays the stereotypical evil villain role and monologues about their plots, giving outsiders just enough time to come in and save the day. There was hardly any foreshadowing or build-up for any of the main plot points, and they just kept piling up. Because of the way the story is structured, there are two plots which link to each other. The plots are mirrors, somewhat, and you can see them progressing as the opposite girl's letter gives details that she discovered on her side. I suppose that it's not unrealistic, but it is awkward and feels entirely too contrived in the novel. There is often no sign of something being a particular way until suddenly the other girl's letter says "oh, right, did you know...?" and then that's the way things always are. It just didn't feel polished or like it has a good pace of story. One of the severe downfalls of this type of exposition: I have no idea how Kate and Cecy are related to each other, other than being cousins, and when one character does talk about the Rushton and Talgarth families, I only became more confused. The way they are related might not be important to the story, but it is a detail that kept coming up without being explained, particularly because I couldn't quite figure out how Charlotte and Elizabeth were related to them, or why they had such control over the girls. I was also a bit annoyed at some of the references made to known historical figures, especially at the beginning of the book. Kate would mention that Lord Byron, for example, had been in a certain place, or that she had seen Lady Caroline at a ball - while it makes sense that the girls would tell each other about famous people they have encountered, there isn't a lot of gossip about anyone else, and if there is gossip, it's someone intimately related to the story. There are no middle-ground names, even invented ones, to give verisimilitude to the practice. It came across as the authors trying to force the reader to recall that the setting is Regency Era England, as is also done with comments about clothing styles (though as those are mentioned more regularly and in a more off-handed sort of way, they seem more natural and less glaring).Speaking of historicity, while I have not read many modern romance novels set in the Regency era, I have read many novels from the early 19th century, and I kept being struck by how 1980s the vocabulary of the girls sounded. There was something about the word choice and pattern that said "we are teenage girls from the late 20th century attempting to sound like we're from the early 19th century". The language didn't seem to flow naturally, like it was too practiced. This is a complaint about the other Regency Romance I have read recently, too.So, in short, I did not find this book to live up to the expectations I had for it. The plot was too rushed and uneven, the characters a little too twee and planned, and the resolution of the mystery/suspense part of the plot was too perfectly staged. The writing feels too affected and stilted to be able to fall into that space where I forget that I'm reading words on a page.I can see a few reasons why this book could be popular - it is a historical fantasy where the main characters are girls who are mostly capable of solving their own problems instead of relying on men (though, ultimately, this is not true), and it is an Elizabeth-and-Darcy style romance for both Kate and Cecy. But I think the plot is too weak and the girls too ineffectual to really be strong characters, and I do not like the Elizabeth-and-Darcy romance at all from Pride and Prejudice.
  • (5/5)
    Funny, Jane Austinesque epistolary novel. It went out of print for a long time, and for years my best friend kept telling me how wonderful the book was. By the time it came back into print, I'd heard so much about it that I wanted to hate it. Sadly, it really is a funny wizardly romance. Sadly, the sequel didn't have the same charm. There are more books in the series, but I quit reading after the second left me cold.
  • (5/5)
    This was a book I didn't want to put down for an instant- through the letters written by the cousins, I put together bits and pieces of an increasingly complicated mystery. I liked both cousins and their beaus, and the setting worked perfectly. The format was also really neat- my best friend and I are planning to try it out ourselves at some point.
  • (5/5)
    Reminiscent in style of Jane Austen, this book consists of a correspondence between Kate and Cecelia. In reality, the two authors played the Letter Game, in which each takes on the persona of one of the characters. The first writer chooses the setting, time, and characters. Beginning the correspondence, Wrede becomes Cecelia, and Stevermer Kate. Kate is in London for her first "season," but her neighbor and best friend Cecelia has not been allowed to go. Missing each other dreadfully, they write to one another almost daily. Although the setting appears to be England during the Napoleonic Wars, there is a difference: Magic is prevalent-and legal. When Kate attends an investiture ceremony for Sir Hilary, one of their country neighbors, at the Royal College of Wizards, she stumbles into a small garden area and is bespelled by a frightening elderly woman. It turns out that this woman, Miranda, is an evil wizard who is trying to steal power from Thomas, marquis of Schofield. Kate and Cecelia become embroiled in the situation, attempting to prevent Miranda's success. The plot is fairly complex as the two girls manage to get themselves into precarious situations (á la Lucy and Ethel, although the consequences here are much more dangerous). This is a fun story that quickly draws in the reader. The story will be more appreciated by teen girls than boys, and they will soon be requesting the sequel that is promised at the end of this book. (As printed in VOYA, June 2003)
  • (5/5)
    Sorcery and Celia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is the first book in a trilogy. The book takes place in Victorian England but magic exists. Most of the book is told through letters between two cousins, Celia and Kate. It took me a minute to get used to the writing style since both characters speak in first person because they are personal letters that are written but once I got used to it the story flowed easily. Kate is in London partaking of the London Season while Celia is in the country which is why the women are writing to each other. Right after Kate arrives in London she is mistaken for another character and is almost killed by poisoned chocolate. Kate and Celia spend the rest of the novel trying to figure out why she was almost poisoned and as they get closer to the answer both their lives are threatened numerous times. During the investigation both women meet men who start to play a large part in the mystery and in their own lives.I love the friendship the two women share and the bond that exists between them that is evident in their letters. It is nice to see such a friendship between two strong women. I also love the women’s attitude toward their family members. It reminded me of my own crazy family, where an aunt drives everyone nuts but you love them anyway. The story brings to light the foibles and weaknesses the two women have in addition to their strengths and I couldn’t help but think of the saying that we admire people for their strengths but love them for their weaknesses. It is the way the women handle their weaknesses, while acknowledging them, that make the characters so endearing (in addition to their great wit).This is one of my favorite series and I have read it several times. I highly recommend it the entire series.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of my comfort reads. It is pure fun, and well written. It has two difference voices for the two different characters, but that is easy since they are written by two different people. The authors collaborated on this book in letters they wrote each other, both taking responsibility for half of the plot and letter the other deal with the other half. Some bits intertwined, or traveled from one author to the other, while some pieces stayed with the originating author. It truly is a masterful piece of writing. It is executed that well.It is also fun. The story follows two young women in the Regency period of England, but an alternate England where magic exists as a part of society. One gets to have a Season in London while the other must remain at home, and that creates the reason for the letters going back and forth between the two.This is easily a YA romance, because while there are romantic elements it is very tastefully written and I would not hesitate to recommend this to any young girl regardless of how relationship-aware she is. However, I am certainly no longer a young girl, and I love this book. It is one of my favorites ever, whether adult or YA.I could say more to make it a proper review: there is magic! There is mystery! There is intrigue! But at its heart, this is a fun book, and there is nothing better I could say about it.
  • (4/5)
    An epistolary novel, set in a fantasy Regency AU. Two cousins, one enjoying her first London season, the other languishing in the depths of the countryside, stumble upon a dastardly wizardly plot and must use all their resources and ingenuity – plus the invaluable assistance of two conveniently eligible young men – to put a stop to it. The story was written as a game of letters between the two authors, and it's obvious at times that one occasionally had no idea what the other was doing. It might have benefited from a tighter final edit but, in general, is thoroughly enjoyable, albeit fluff of the fluffiest order.
  • (4/5)
    Lots of fun. Made me think of Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice) and The Scarlet Pimpernel at the same time.
  • (4/5)
    I always enjoy Wrede's writing, and this book was no exception. It was one of those books that I'd been eyeing for years, but for some reason never had a chance to purchase... so when it was sitting blatantly on the shelf at the library, I figured it was time to give it a go. It's actually a slower read than it looks - or at least it was for me - and I think that may be because it's written in Victorian-style language. But that just means it's a good book to savor, not blast through!It's written in letter-style, between two young ladies, and apparently (as stated by the authors in the back of the book) the book came about after Wrede and Stevermer actually just decided to play "The Letter Game" and write letters in character to each other for awhile. Then, when they later sat back and talked about things, they realized they had a book... and so they polished the letters up and the rest is history! I thought that was very interesting: a book that wasn't intended as a book... I'll be honest, I think it shows in just a few spots where the story dragged a little, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from picking this up. There are two more books after this one, and I've got them on the list to find the next time I'm at the library (or, let's be honest, a bookstore). A worthwhile read!