Sonderbooks Book Review of Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

cover

*****Sorcery and Cecilia

or

The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality

regarding various Magical Scandals in London and in the Country

by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Reviewed January 20, 2004.
Harcourt, Orlando, 2003.  First published in 1988.  316 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF WRE).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #2, Fantasy for Young Adults

Who knew that what Jane Austen needed in her books to make them even more wonderful was a touch of magic?

Set in an alternate London and Essex after the Napoleonic Wars, and with a style and plot similar to Jane Austen’s books, Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot has the additional complications of a world where magic is practiced.

The book is a series of letters between Cecilia in Essex and her cousin Kate, who is spending her first Season in London.  While Kate is there, she stumbles into a situation where she is almost poisoned by chocolate from an enchanted chocolate pot.  This poison seems to have been intended for the Mysterious Marquis, an odious man, despite his being so handsome.

Meanwhile in Essex, all the men in the neighborhood except one seem to have fallen for the new girl in town.  Cecilia finds her too delightful to hate, but it does seem odd that even Cecilia’s brother, whose affections were already claimed, has become besotted with the new girl.  Could it be caused by a spell from the girl’s witch-like stepmother?  Why is the only man who doesn’t seem to be affected spying on them?  Some of the things and people Cecilia encounters seem to relate to Kate’s curious adventures in London.

I found this book delightful in every way.  I love Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and once I looked at the cover in America, I couldn’t resist buying it, even though it is hardcover and I think we have it ordered for the library.  I’m completely glad I did, since it’s a book I’ll want to read many more times.  Now I’m going to have to look for Caroline Stevermer’s books as well.

I was astounded to learn at the end that Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer wrote it originally as a game, simply for the fun of it, with each one taking one character’s letters, and without discussing the plot.  It’s amazing what a unified, fascinating story they came up with.  After I learned that, I had to look back over it and was delighted to see how each person’s ideas fed off the other’s.

I can hardly wait for the sequel, The Grand Tour, which is said to be coming out soon!

Reviews of other books by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer:
The Grand Tour
The Mislaid Magician


Reviews of other books by Patricia C. Wrede:
Dealing with Dragons
Searching for Dragons
Calling on Dragons
Talking To Dragons
The Book of Enchantments
Thirteenth Child
Across the Great Barrier
The Seven Towers

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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