Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Dearest Kate, It is dreadfully flat here since you have been gone ..."

I knew from the dedication page of Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot that I would love this book --
The authors wish to dedicate this book to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ellen Kushner, all of whom, in their several ways, inspired us to create it.
And the authors, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, have indeed created a young adult novel that is part Jane Austen, part Georgette Heyer and a bit of Diana Wynne Jones. I am in love with this book and can hardly wait to get my hands on the two remaining books in the series.

Written in an epistolary style as letters between cousins Kate and Cecelia, this is a tale like many others but also like no other.  It is 1817 and Kate and her beautiful younger sister Georgina have gone to London for the season while Cecelia has been forced to remain at home due to a bit of trouble she got in recently.  Though apart, the young women soon get entangled in the same messy situation -- a spat between warring wizards.  Due to Kate and Cecy's quick instincts and complete honesty with each other, they may just be the ones to foil all the intentions of the more skilled magicians -- and of course they each might also find love.

I think this was a fantastically written story and it was created in a unique way.  The two authors started this as an exercise called a Letter Game where each author takes on a persona and they exchange letters, creating a story without having ever discussed a plot.  Once they got going with this exercise, they fell in love with Kate and Cecelia and ended up with a complex and compelling story and enough writing to just do some slight editing and turn it into a book.  I think it is wonderful that each letter writer has its own author, therefore giving them distinctly different voices.  However, they also really come across as cousins and friends and are extremely likable.  The book does indeed have the period details and characters (the vicar, the titled neighbor, the spinster aunt) of Jane Austen, the convoluted but inevitable romances of Georgette Heyer and the light and easily accepted magic of Diana Wynne Jones.  I adored this book and look forward to the continuing stories of Kate and Cecelia.

Enchanted by this story,

Support our site and buy Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed our copy from the library but will be buying our own copy soon.


  1. Oh my gosh, I love this book so much! It's one of only a few Patricia C. Wrede books I've reread as an adult. Just to warn you, though, the following two books were written much later and aren't nearly as good. Their stories are less cohesive, it seems to me.

  2. This one looks interesting! I am intrigued by the idea of the letter format and two authors writing it in this way. I'm going to have to see if I can find this one!

  3. I enjoyed this story, but I didn't LOVE it. I liked it more than the sequel (didn't even know there was a third!), but I didn't really think the characters "clicked" for me.

    I prefer Wrede's earlier writings about princesses and dragons!

  4. What a fun way to write a book!! I loved hearing about that aspect of it. I'm glad you found a great new series of books for yourself.

  5. The title and front cover of the book are enough to make me interested in reading it, but your review pushed me right into definitely wanting to read it. I especially like this line: "this is a tale like many others but also like no other." Lovely review!

    I think I just did a review of a review...

  6. Isn't it delicious?! I've read the first two, and they're so much fun! Must read the third some time soon. ;)

  7. Jennysbooks - I can't believe that I only found this book now. I'll admit that I already grabbed the second two from the library but I will try not to have my hopes too high. :)

    Tif - I hope you can find a copy because it's an awesome book!

    Aarti - I'm bummed that you didn't love this -- I thought the girls were great characters. And I will try and read more Wrede at some point!

    Jenners - I wonder if any other books have been written this way ...

    Jessie - I love your review of my review! I had fun writing this one because I really loved the book. I need to love more books to make writing posts more fun. :)

    Eva - I will probably get to the second book sooner than later because I just love these smart and resourceful gals!

  8. I'd also have to recommend Wrede's Mairelon the Magician books, which are set in a magical/historical world similar to Kate and Cecilia's. The romance there also reminded me of Heyer (just reread The Corinthian the other day .... ah, bliss ... I'd forgotten just how wonderful she is)

  9. Someone recommended this to me, and I am sure I wrote it down somewhere and then promptly lost the paper. Thanks for the reminder--it sounds like something I would enjoy.

  10. Solsticia - I will definitely check out the other Wrede books. I really like this sort of world.

    Danielle - I'm glad I could remind you about this book because it's great! I hope you get to it.