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on 31 January 2007
This book is a series of letters between Cecelia (Cecy) and her friend and cousin Kate. Kate is in London for her season but Cecy is still at home in Essex. They both stumble into a plot involving an evil wizards Miranda and Sir Hilary and find themselves helping different young men to thwart their schemes. Kate in London ends up in a fake betrothal to a Marquis and Cecy in Essex finds herself helping James Tarleton who is assisting the Marquis.

It's a fun read as the plot unfolds and the magical abilities of Cecy and Kate become apparent. However written as it was, without either author having decided on an overall plot, does sometimes show through. In a way it's two separate stories with some interweaving but each would work pretty well on its own. Regency detail is there although better editing would have been appreciated - as with most American-authored Regencies, our characters lapse into occasional American word forms ("gotten", "fall" for autumn, "write me" for "write to me", "in back" for "at the back" or "behind you" etc). This always annoys me but the otherwise charming nature of the book meant it wasn't too distracting.

In short this is an enjoyable read but it's not anything too special.
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It's 1817. Kate and her older sister Georgina have gone to London with their aunt Charlotte for the debutante season. Following a disgraceful incident with a goat, Kate's cousin Cecelia has to stay behind with her aunt Elizabeth but the cousins swap letters setting out their experiences.

When Kate goes to see the installation of her neighbour, Sir Hilary Bedrick at the Royal College of Wizards, she finds her way into a secret garden where a woman tries to kill her with a poisoned chocolate pot after mistaking her for the Marquis of Schofield. Meanwhile Cecelia has met Mr Tarleton, a strange man taken to sneaking about and spying on people while a young woman called Dorothea has arrived who seems to have entranced every man in the village ...

Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's YA/crossover fantasy epistolary novel is a mix of Georgette Heyer and Diana Wynne Jones. Although the authors clearly have a lot of fun with the story (which developed as a writing game), the pace really sags at times and the plot struggles to come together while the period references are heavy handed at times (particularly the references to Byron and the Prince Regent). I also had a problem in visualising Cecy and Kate as we're not given a lot of information about them and their characters are largely interchangeable (both are sparky, intelligent and forthright and prone to getting into trouble). The romance element is predictable and the male protagonists underdeveloped, while the antagonists are fairly stock characters. That said there are some amusing moments and I enjoyed the fact that the two girls stand up to their love interests and call them on poor behaviour. I'm not sure that I'd rush to read the sequel to this but I'd definitely check out each of the authors' other works.

I enjoyed the love that comes through between the cousins in the letters and the frustration that they have with their respective siblings, Oliver and Georgina (who have formed a regard). I also enjoyed how Wrede and Stevermer weave the fantasy elements into the history (particularly the College of Wizards). However the fact that each cousin is writing after the fact reduces tension and some plot points (e.g. a revelation about Georgina) go nowhere while the pace sags at points. Ultimately I liked the idea more than the execution but may check out the sequel.
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on 11 July 2014
I love this book.

Originally this was written by two authors each writing letters on behalf of one of the characters, one in London doing her season and the other back home in the country, it was then 'tidied up' so that it made a better book.

Magic, evil, heroism, despair, goats in bedrooms this book has it all and maybe because it was written a few years ago no elves, no vampires and no sex (I'm not anti sex, but reading about it in YA books where it seems the author has never even been french kissed really annoys me).

The story is light and fluffy but the characterisations are wonderful.

Now if only the further books in the series weren't so dashed expensive
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on 20 June 2008
I positively adored this book. It reads rather like Jane Austen via Diana Wynne Jones, with two spirited heroines who stumble across the evil plots of two magicians, entirely by accident. Cecily writes from the country as she tries to foil the doings of Sir Hilary and his erstwhile accomplice, while Kate writes from her first Season in London where she struggles to help the "Mysterious Marquis" in the same pursuit and often contrary to the Marquis' wishes. Both girls must also hide their exploits from aunts of varying nosiness. Entertaining and original.
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on 19 June 2003
This is a wonderfully entertaining Regency romp, like Georgette
Heyer with added magic. A nineteenth century like the real one, but with magic a part of everyday life. Ingeneous plot, lively
interesting characters and amusing situations make the book a
pleasure to read. Not a single dull passage in the book.
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on 16 June 2004
When I finished reading this book, I started again from the beginning; it really was that good.
This is a fantasy romp set in an alternative Victorian England.
The writers wrote the book as a series of letters, with neither writer knowing where the other was heading, so the story unfolds for the reader in the same way as it unfolded for the writers. It's not so much that the book is full of twists, but the usual plot imperatives are missing, so there's a sense of the unknown here that is missing from most other books.
Added to that, the prose is simple and flowing, the characters are lovable - or detestable - as required, and there's a sense of fun running all the way through.
Ok, I'm out of words now... time to press "send".
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on 10 July 2010
It was fun to read- it combines the Austen-esque focus on personal communications with the alternate reality of a magical England I had only seen previously in _Jonathan Strange and Mister Norell_ but I'm sure there's a whole genre out there I'm missing. I sent this to sister for her birthday, right after I read it. Last year, it was _Pride and Prejudice and Zombies_.
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on 23 September 2015
Love it! Funny and influential.
Anyone watching the recent TV adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, on the BBC, might well see the influence that this book had on the style of the characters, and, indeed, some of their lines. I wonder if the scriptwriters are a fan of Sorcery and Cecelia too...?
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on 1 March 2016
I read this book when I was tired, busy, stressed and sick of looking at a computer screen. It kept me engaged and I found it a marvellously gentle method of entertainment. Very happy to give it four stars, and it made me think of hot chocolate, always a good thing.
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on 10 January 2017
fun idea, well done, a bit plodding in the middle, but well written and amusing
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