Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Posted by Simcha 7:13 PM, under | 9 comments

When Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer began exchanging letters as part of the Letter Game they had no idea of how far the game would progress. But after a few weeks of Caroline writing as Kate and Patricia as Cecelia, one letter a week wasn't enough. The two women had quickly become absorbed by the characters they had created, and the story that was coming together, and the letters between them became more frequent. Eventually, as the story headed to its conclusion, Patricia and Caroline took a look at all the letters they had written each other and realized that it would make an excellent book, and from those letters emerged Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot.

When Kate is taken to London for the season, along with her beautiful younger sister, her cousin Cecelia is disappointed at being left behind. But Kate has promised to regularly write to Cecelia everything about her London debut and in return Cecelia will keep Kate up-to-date on the news back home, in Essex. What neither Kate or Cecelia expected was to get embroiled in a sinister plot involving a magical chocolate pot and the Mysterious Marquis. But when Kate nearly gets poisoned by a witch and Cecelia befriends an enchanted young woman with an evil stepmother, both girls tumble headlong into the adventures of their lives. Through regular correspondences, Kate and Cecelia share the details of their individual escapades, which they soon come to realize are connected. And so it is up to Kate and Cecelia to pool their resources together and come up with a way to save a certain marquis from a tragic end, because you can never count on men to get things done properly.

Sorcery and Cecelia includes all of my favorite fantasy book elements; feisty and intelligent heroines, magic, adventure, and a dash of romance. I loved the characters of Kate and Cecelia and by the end of the book wished that I could adopt them as my best friends. Both girls are clever, witty and sensible though they are not above getting into the occasional bit of mischief or in bending the rules when something needs to get done. And when it becomes apparent that the Marquis and his friend are making no progress in defeating the witch and her cohort, Kate and Cecelia step in to take things in hand and get the job done right.

While I usually avoid books written in a letter format in this case I really enjoyed it. For most of the book two different stories are being recounted, one of Kate's adventures in London and the other of Cecelia's in Essex. Both girls comment on each others stories, offering advice and commiseration, and eventually the events in London and Essex begin to intertwine. I really liked the explanation, in the back of the book, of how the story came together through real letters written by Patricia and Caroline, and I thought it gave the book an authentic feel (or as authentic as a fantasy book can get).

It's been years since I last read a book by Patricia Wrede and Sorcery and Cecelia makes me wonder why I've waited so long. It was a delightfully charming book that I had a lot of fun reading and which I'm sure I will be returning to many times. It was a wonderful break from some of the darker books that I've been reading lately and I'm now determined to seek out any other books of Patricia Wredes that I've missed out on (and Caroline Stevermer as well, as I've never heard of her before). After finishing Sorcery and Cecelia I was pleased to discover that it is followed by two more books featuring Kate and Cecelia, and I look forward to reading those books as well.


I know, I loved this book, too! I actually think it might have been the first Patricia Wrede I read.
I, too, thought the letter format really worked in this, even if I'm not usually a huge letter format book fan.
It made me want to write a book in letter format with my best friend. :-)

Great review! I already wanted to read this one & now I want to read it even more :)

It sounds different, and this is the first time I come across it.
Nice review

Oh my gosh, i love this author!! I totally devoured the searching for dragons series when I was younger!! thanks for reminding me about this one!

I enjoyed this book (how can I now with an enchanted chocolate pot) but I had no idea that was how it got started; how wonderful!

Audrey: I know, I wish I had a friend who I could play the Letter Game with. It sounds like so much fun.

Aleksandra: I've been wanting to read this book for a while and was so excited to unexpectedly come across it in a second-hand bookstore in Jerusalem. I love when that happens.

Blodeuedd: I think you would enjoy it. And if you haven't read Wrede's Enchanted Forest books you really must do so. They are wonderful.

Carrie: I had actually forgotten how much I loved Wrede's books until I heard about this book and then I remember all over again how much I loved her books.

Stephanie: I know, I just love the way "enchanted chocolate pot" sounds. I'm now really coveting a chocolate pot of my own. Though I kept wondering what kind of chocolate was inside of it. Cocoa, chocolate milk or pure chocolate. I can't believe they left such an important detail out of the book.

love the cover on this one. last time i read a patricia wrede book was in high school--i remember really enjoying her series about dragons (i think one of the titles was dealing with dragons). thanks for the review simcha!

in reply to your comment on my blog. i'm totally with you about some YA books being all about the love triangles and "who will she choose." that's one of the reasons why i'm hesitant to pick up matched by ally condie.

I really liked Sorcery and Cecilia -- Patricia C. Wrede is one of my favorite authors. My favorites of hers, though, is the two Mairelon books (recently published as A Matter of Magic). :)

Emy: Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that because I've really been looking forward to reading A Matter of Magic but was a bit nervous that her newer stuff might not be as good (which often happens with authors)

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