Patricia Wrede & |
Sorcery & Cecelia, or
The Enchanted Chocolate Pot:
Being the Correspondence
of Two Young Ladies of Quality
Regarding Various Magical Scandals
in London & the Country
(Ace, 1988; Harcourt, 2003)
My dear Julie,
I have just finished reading the most delightful book! It's called Sorcery & Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London & the Country. It's co-written by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, and it was originally published in 1988. Harcourt reprinted it just this year, and if that were not good news enough, the authors are planning a sequel!
I'm getting ahead of myself, though; I want to tell you what it's about! It's set in an alternate England, just after the Napoleonic War, and in this setting, magic is used and practiced regularly. Two young ladies, Kate and Cecelia, are separated when one goes to London for the season and one remains behind in the country. In the course of their correspondence, they find that they are both knee-deep in a magical mystery concerning the Marquis of Scofield, an ill-tempered witch who tries to poison Kate with hot chocolate, the chocolate pot, a gaudy snuff box and an aristocratic wizard who may or may not be up to no good.
The story is just beautifully written; the authors took turns, with Wrede writing as Cecelia and Stevermer writing as Kate. In fact, the whole novel is the result of a writing exercise called the "Letters Game" in which each correspondent makes up a character and writes each letter as if she were that character. (Wrede and Stevermer explain how they did this in the back of the book.) The characters are convincing, the writing lively and the letters mesh into a remarkably smooth narrative.
I am so grateful that Harcourt decided to reprint this title. Cecelia & Sorcery is simply magical!
All the best,