Kate and Cecelia are disheartened about not being able to spend the Season together in London, and so must console each other by writing letters. Low spirits cannot last long in the face of adventure, however, and soon the girls find themselves in the middle of an alarming plot.
First Kate is nearly poisoned while attending an event at the Royal College of Wizards, and Cecelia is being spied on—in a distinctly un-subtle manner—by a young man whose true intentions aren’t quite clear.
Bigger forces than Kate and Cecelia are at play, and soon find themselves caught up in a murderous plot that extends from the drawing rooms of London to the heretofore quiet Essex countryside. Can Kate and Cecelia corner the culprit before it’s too late?
A lovely adventure
The Enchanted Chocolate Pot is the result of a collaboration between Patricia C. Wrede (of Enchanted Forest Chronicles fame) and Caroline Stevermer. Although the time period is distinctly Victorian/Regency, the addition of magic and magicians as a norm makes the setting unique.
The story is told through the letters Kate and Cecelia write to each other while Kate is in London with her aunt and sister. At first each alternating letter reports on different events, but soon the girls’ adventures align as they work together to solve the mystery with which they are faced.
Kate and Cecelia are great characters, quick-witted and outspoken, smart and brave. They take charge in situations when the supposedly smarter and more powerful men around them waffle and hesitate.
The magic aspects are well-integrated, and overall the worldbuilding is pretty great. My only complaint is that the characters feel interchangeable — their “voices” are so similar that looking back it’s hard to remember what happens to which girl.
A cool idea
It wasn’t until I read the novel’s afterward that I learned that Sorcery and Cecelia began as a “Letters Game” between authors Wrede and Stevermer.
Alternatively called “Persona Letters” or “Ghost Letters,” the Letters Game involves two people writing letters to each other while “in character,” or pretending to be the person they are writing as; the only rule is that neither writer can reveal the plot to each other. It’s like improvisation, but in print.
For six months the letters flew back and forth, with Wrede writing as Kate and Stervermer writing as Cecelia. Then they sat down together, polished the letters and removed lose plot threads, and voila! A novel. Cool, huh?
The long and short of it
If you like fun adventure stories with a touch of magic and just enough danger and excitement, definitely check out Sorcery and Cecelia. The book includes a preview of the second in the series, The Grand Tour, although I can’t find any information on when it’s set to be published. Have no fear, though — the first book makes a perfect standalone, and is fun reading for just about any age.