Star Rating: 5/5
Sorcery and Cecilia Or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot
By Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Imagine Old World
where women are brought into society when they come of age and life is composed of horseback-riding, parties at the estate down the lane, and chaperoned picnics; sprinkle in some well-educated, arrogant wizards pouring out spells and giving no explanations; and you have Sorcery and Cecelia. Cousins Kate and Cecilia (also called Cecy) are spending the season exchanging letters since Kate is making her debut in London while Cecy remains at home in Essex. At first they feel as though they’re in for some dull months, but neither is left without exciting news to write about for long. Kate finds her way to the headquarters of the Royal College of Wizards. There she sneaks off into a lovely garden room where she is compelled to sit with a mysterious woman named Miranda. Miranda nearly poisons Kate with chocolate and accuses her of being a wizard by the name of Thomas in disguise. Kate barely escapes the woman but becomes inevitably entangled in her affairs, especially after Kate meets the true Thomas at the next ball. Meanwhile, Cecy is getting mixed up in magic and intrigue of her own when she learns that her newfound friend Dorothea has a spell placed on her by Miranda, the wizard Kate met in England . Local nobleman James Tarleton seems to believe Cecy is working with Miranda and is determined to get in Cecy’s way. Though Cecy is unsure of what to do about James’ mistaken notions and rude behavior or how to help free Dorothea from the spell, she is determined to figure things out and help Kate while she’s at it. London
Just as Kate and Cecy sometimes do the unorthodox to achieve their ends, authors Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer craft their tale using the young ladies’ correspondence rather than a more traditional narrative form. The story unfolds as the women write to one another, telling the events of the previous day or days. As each letter is written after the events have transpired, it is clear that all will be well by the end of the letter and that neither writer was seriously harmed since she is telling her tale. While this format removes some of the drama from the story, the loss is hardly noteworthy since it gives the reader a more intimate view of and relationship with each narrator. Reading the letters, we see relationships being built and shifting not only through the occurrences that are described but also through the description of the events and individuals by Kate and Cecy. This structure makes us confidants of the two women, and we witness firsthand the subtle changes in their attitudes and perspectives.
Overall, the interwoven stories are intriguing and enjoyable. They keep you guessing and wondering how relationships will evolve and when the characters will recognize what exactly is happening. The characters are extremely realistic as they slowly figure things out and come to understand their own feelings. It is easy and fun to recognize ourselves and our friends in all of them, not only in Kate and Cecy. Wrede and Stevermer have crafted a truly enchanting read.