Saturday, June 5, 2010

Persy -- Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country.

Historical fiction set in an alternate England, told in the form of letters written by two cousins to each other. Please tell me I'm not the only one this appeals to.

Katherine Talgarth, or Kate, is taken to London with her younger sister Georgina and their Aunt Charlotte for Kate's season, while Cecelia Rushton, or Cecy, Kate's cousin, is left at home in the country. The entire book is made up of their letters to each other, describing what is going on.

In London, Kate, who is remarkably clumsy but brilliant at improvisation, wanders right into the middle of a conspiracy. She slips through a door into a garden to find a woman sitting at a table with a spectacularly blue chocolate pot. The woman invites her to take some chocolate with her, seeming to think that Kate is someone called 'Thomas'. Kate only just escapes the strange tea party intact.

Meanwhile, back in the country, there is a new neighbor of Cecy's who seems to have entranced all the young men in the area. At the same time, Cecy begins to notice one James Tarleton attempting to sneak around (he's not very good at it), spying on Dorothea, the girl who is charming the rest of the town. In her attempt to get to the bottom of it, Cecy discovers her magical talent and begins to try to teach herself magic.

It's not long before things are getting completely out of control. Oliver, Cecy's brother, has gone missing, Kate has become betrothed, and Cecy has found a very interesting book in Sir Hilary's library...

Each character belongs to a different author. The two writers started writing letters to each other, making it up as they went. The only rules for their 'letter game' were that they could not discuss the plot with each other. It had to all be revealed in the letters. Which meant that neither of them knew exactly what was going to happen next.

This marvelous story of two cousins in an alternate world of magic is what happens when two fantastic writers (Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer) get together and start playing a game. There are two more books in the same series, both written over ten years after the first book. I've only read the second one, The Grand Tour or The Purloined Coronation Regalia (Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Nobelwoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality), which was very good, though a bit confusing and not nearly as intriguing as the first one. I've been trying to get my hands on the third book, The Mislaid Magician or Three Years After (Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Familes Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm), but so far no luck.

I'd recommend this book to fantasy readers, fans of the uniquely told story, or anyone who just loves a good tale full of interesting quirks. Definitely one of my favorites.


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