Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia M. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot - Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot – Patricia M. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Harcourt, 2004

Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

Sorcery & Cecelia is an epistolary novel about two cousins. Kate is in London for her first season, while Cecelia stays in her home village. Strange things are happening in the immediate vicinity of both, and slowly but surely they become involved in uncovering a magical scheme.

There are a number of reasons why Sorcery and Cecelia is such a fun read.

Firstly, it is set in an alternative Regency era that has magic! In that sense, and in the Jane Austenesque language used from time to time, part of me wants to compare this to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but I also feel that would be unfair to both books. Susanna Clarke’s book has a much more detailed plot and world building (and I say that without detracting from Sorcery and Cecelia), while at the same time Sorcery and Cecelia  is a lot lighter and offers more immediate fun (again, without detracting from the loveliness of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell).

Secondly, both Kate and Cecelia are wonderful characters. They are smart and funny (also a little bit naive at times, but in an endearing way), and they stand up for themselves and the people they love. Their characters outshine the others by far, which might be seen as a weakness of the novel. At the same time, the joy I found in both of them far exceeded my disappointment in some of the less developed characters and plot resolutions. The fact is, I can see how that would happen when you write a novel with two authors, deciding on little to nothing of the plot beforehand. Each writing as one character, it makes sense that these are the most developed, the most interesting and the ones you want to hug close to your heart.

Lastly, the writing and voice is plain fun. There were numerous moments when I was reading Sorcery and Cecelia with a big smile on my face. Take Kate, at one point:

Cecy, I do think it is unfair. People in novels are fainting all the time, and I never can, no matter how badly I need to. Instead, I stared at him for what seemed like years, with the stupidest expression on my face, I’m sure, beacuse I felt stupid. For I couldn’t imagine why he would say such an extraordinary thing. Finally I realized he was waiting for me to say something.
I said, “I can’t imagine why you should say such an extraordinary thing.”

There it is: Sorcery and Cecelia  combines a humorous tone, a slight mocking of social (gender!) conventions, a love for regency and fantasy, with endearing characters. Did I mention it is a fun book? (I already edited out half of my mentions of “fun” in the above paragraphs). I was not blown away, this is not my new favourite book, but it is definitely a wonderful and lovely read that is well, um, a lot of fun.

Even better: there is a second, and I think a third (?) installment* of the adventures of Kate and Cecelia to look forward to. I have to be honest: I am not running to the book store to order these immediately. But it good to know that I will have some more comfort reading to look forward to in the future.

Other Opinions: A Striped Armchair, Things Mean a Lot, Adventures in Reading, The Black Letters, The Magic of Ink, Working Title, Bookworm 1858, 1lbr, My Sister’s Bookshelf, Yours?

Once Upon a Time: The JourneyI read Sorcery and Cecelia as part of the Once Upon a Time Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. Beginning of April, really. I am so behind with my posts.

* These are affiliate links. If you buy a product through either of them, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

16 thoughts on “Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia M. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

  1. biblioglobal

    I love this one! If you haven’t read any of Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series, I would recommend those as well. (Probably more so than the later Sorcery and Cecelia books, which are enjoyable, but in my opinion not as good as this one.)

    Reply
    1. Nat

      I can’t agree more with you! Dealing With Dragons is brilliant. Patricia C. Wrede is wonderful.

      I love the story of how this book came to be. Swapping fictional letters sounds so fun! Also, LM Bujold mentions in The Curse of Chalion that the main character in that book was born in another game of letters she played with Patricia C. Wrede, and it filled my heart with joy :P

      Reply
  2. Claire (The Captive Reader)

    I think my patience with this sort of low-stakes romantic fantasy novel was exhausted when I picked this up, so that element didn’t particularly wow me, but I did enjoy so many other aspects of the story (Regency era! Epistolary format!) and particularly liked Kate and Cecelia.

    Reply
  3. Alex in Leeds

    I read this via a friend who insisted I had missed out by not reading it in my teens and was amused by it. Fun is definitely the word it brings to mind when I think about it. I’m probably going to re-read it for my Century of Books challenge too as I am struggling to find any other books from 1988 that I want to read!

    Reply
  4. Jenny

    Just to regulate your expectations, the second and third books are sort of a bit lame. At least I thought so. You should take that with a grain of salt because I grew up reading Sorcery and Cecelia and my expectations for its eventual sequels were pretty high. But the first one is wondrous! I read it all the time.

    Reply
  5. cherylmahoney

    Agreed–FUN! This is one of those books that I don’t madly adore, but that is just a lovely, light read. I just picked it up at a book swap, so there may be a reread in my near future. And I agree with the other commenters who said that Dealing with Dragons is a must-read!

    Reply
  6. Bookworm1858

    I thought this book was so fun! I wanted to finish the series but I heard that the sequels weren’t as good. I’ll be interested to see your thoughts if you continue.

    Reply
  7. Christy

    With the updated cover shown here and on Goodreads, I had no idea this book was originally released in the late 1980’s until some in the comments above spoke of growing up with the book. Anyway, it sounds like a fun book. The phrase “Enchanted Chocolate Pot” might have steered me away as it makes it sound like it’s for a very young audience, but your review has sold me that it’s worth my time someday.

    Reply
  8. Christina

    Love Sorcery and Cecelia! I agree with the other commenters who said the sequels are not as fun, but they are still decent. I’d recommend A Matter of Magic (also published separately as Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward) for a similar fun alt-Regency feel.

    Reply
  9. Jennifer

    Well I’m always up for a fun read. Especially one that begins a series. I love series. I tend to have a hard time with stand alone novels.

    Reply

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