Tag Archives: Patricia C Wrede

Sorcery & Cecelia

Wrede, Patricia C & Stevermer, Caroline. Sorcery and Cecelia (2003 ed.) 316 Pages. Harcourt. $17.00

The full title is, of course: Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country, which I absolutely think was a brilliant choice considering their setting, and the tone of the work as a whole.

From the Back Cover

There is a great deal happening in London this Season.

For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one’s dress?!)

Then there’s the strange spell that’s made Dorothea the toast of the town. (Could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver’s bed?)

And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him. Ever since he was turned into a tree he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is!

Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives.. if only they weren’t having so much fun!

First Lines

8 April 1817

Rushton Manor, Essex

Dearest Kate

It is dreadfully flat here since you have been gone, and it only makes it worse to imagine all the things I shall be missing. I wish Aunt Elizabeth were not so set against my having a Season this year. She is still annoyed about the incident with the goat, and says that to let the pair of us loose on London would ruin us both for good, and spoil Georgy’s chances into the bargain.

Thoughts

Apparently, Wrede and Stevermer decided to play “the Letter Game,” which started out as a bit of fun, and turned into something which could actually qualify as a book. They cleaned it up a bit, fixed up some bad storylines, and bits that led nowhere, and got it published (originally in 1988). Despite its humble origins as a fun writing exercise, it became quite an entertaining mystery.

Cecelia and Kate are fascinating characters, cousins who are very close, and who were upset to learn that they would not be debuting together. Unfortunately, because of the “goat incident,” Cecelia was left behind. (Kate’s younger sister Georgina could not debut before her, so Kate was taken to London.)

There’s a lot going on here; Kate and Cecy have had unfortunate encounters with wicked wizards, and they know that something is afoot, if only they could figure out what. It’s fascinating to watch them work it out, as they drag you further and further into their contemplation of the mess.

It’s a fun story, with a hint of Austenesque humor, and a solidly built regency setting. It’s fascinating to see what changes the addition of magic makes to the society of the times.

I was in high school when I first attempted to read this; Sorcery and Cecelia had just been re-released in paperback format, and knowing how much I loved Patricia C Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Caught in Crystal, I opted to pick up this book as well. I wasn’t ready for it then, as I lacked the familiarity with and appreciation for Austen or regency settings. I’ve since discovered a love for both, so I decided that it was high time to try reading this book again. (I’m glad I did.) There were a few times when I was genuinely laughing, moments of true puzzlement, and occasional distress as I wondered what was going to happen next.

This volume gets a 5 of 5, for being clever and fun without being too young, or stupid.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake

Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake

from Patricia C. Wrede’s Book of Enchantments

I’ve been wanting to make this cake since I first read about it in the back of the book. If you don’t happen to own a copy, you can see it through google books. I’d transcribe it here, but frankly, it’s a lot funnier if you read it in the original format.

The cake is somewhere between a cake and a brownie; it would be perfectly complimented by a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, or perhaps some raspberry syrup. (Mmmm.) The recipe suggests topping it with whipped cream, which would certainly go well with it.  I’ve got a few more pictures relating to the process of making it. (I enjoy taking pictures of food and food making)

It was chocolatey and delicious. Just look at all that chocolate yum:

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Filed under Not a Book Review

The Book of Enchantments (Anthology)

Wrede, Patricia C. The Book of Enchantments (1996). 234 Pages. Magic Carpet Books. $5.95

Shortly after I read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles the first time around, I came across a little red book with a picture of a snake-thing on it. I thought it was weird, but I was on a short-story anthology kick, and I knew I liked the author. (I apparently also like the editor- Jane Yolen, though I didn’t know that at the time.) Unfortunately, like most of Ms. Wrede’s other books, it has been republished in the last decade with a lousy little-kid cover. The cover aside, it’s a good book. There are ten stories in this book, and I must admit, I liked some better than others.

Continue reading

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Talking to Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Talking to Dragons (1995). 255 Pages. Scholastic. $4.95 

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Four (or Book One)

Depending on who you ask, this is either the first book or the last book in the series. If you feel that this is the last book, be aware of spoilers. If you feel that it is the first, welcome to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Daystar has lived right next to the Enchanted Forest his whole life, but he has never spent much time there. His mother, Cimorene, has drilled two rules into his head since childhood; always be polite, especially to Dragons, and never say yes to an unknown favor. When he is sixteen years old, he enters the Enchanted Forest for the first time.

Armed with a magic sword, and good manners, Daystar is sent on a quest, even if he doesn’t have a clue what he’s supposed to do. He makes the acquaintance of a fire witch, meets a small lizard, and a young dragon, all without figuring out much more than that the King is sleeping in his castle.

Eventually Daystar learns that the sword he is carrying is very important, that Morwen the Witch and Telemain the Magician are both very powerful and very helpful– and know considerably more than he does about his quest– and that his mother was very right in teaching him to always be polite to Dragons.

Eventually, Daystar makes his way to the Castle of the Sleeping King, where he figures out what everyone has been hoping he’d do all along. The book climaxes with an epic battle, and ends on a good note. It resolves the story without ending everything. It’s not exactly “happily ever after” but all the characters are set up to find their ever-afters easily.

The Series as a Whole:

I choose to think of this as the fourth book, because I’ve always read it last. It makes a solid close to a long story, one which has been well written, and is really enjoyable. The appearance and re-appearance of familiar characters makes it feel like one contiguous work, which is nice. Each one has just enough difference from the last that you’re interested, and things are steadily growing off what has already been set up.

As a series opener, it’s fascinating; you start with the end, you know the happily ever after, and so the “What” is solved. Reading the rest of the books is like learning the “Why”, which is really not a bad way to do things. Beginning with the end is a fun way to tell a story.

The series gets an overall score of 5/5.

The Quick Version:

This is one of the first Fantasy series I remember reading, and because of this I know I’m at least a little biased. However, I’ve read it so many times that I nearly have the book memorized and I still enjoy it. This book in particular is good. Daystar makes a great protagonist, and whether you know what’s going on or not, you find yourself rooting for him. It scores a 5/5 for being a great book.

Want to read it? Get it through Amazon or Swaptree.

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Filed under Book Review, High Fantasy, Humor, Young Adult Fiction

Calling on Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Calling on Dragons (1994). 244 Pages. Scholastic. $3.95*

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Three

Because this is the third book in a series, there are very likely to be spoilers for the first two books. Proceed with caution.

It is purely by accident that King Mendanbar discovers that  his sword has been stolen by wizards, allowing them to once again steal the forest’s magic. The bold theft is what will lead our familiar (and not-so-familiar) cast on yet another adventure to save the forest. With the sword out of the Enchanted Forest, however, Mendanbar must remain at home to be the focus of the protection spell. This means that Cimorene must lead the party, and Mendanbar is by no means happy about it.

In Calling on Dragons we see their adventures from Morwen’s point of view, which means that we get to hear what her cats are actually saying for the first time. They lend a comedic edge to the book which it would otherwise have been missing. (And it gives us some insight into cat romance). Killer, the six foot tall talking blue donkey-rabbit who blunders into more and more difficult and stupid situations. He makes things funny, but can at times be very annoying.

We see a lot more of the world outside the Enchanted Forest or Mountains of Morning, mostly due to the adventure.  Telemain speaks in magical technical gibberish, and Kazul stops him. Morwen is practical, Cimorene equally so. Killer is silly, and the cats are funny. There is also a very entertaining scene with a cranky magic mirror. This book, like the others, will have you laughing and enjoying yourself.

The Quick Version:

As I have said on other books which are the third in the series; it’s more of a bridge than a stand-alone book. The story begins, but does not conclude, and has a rather severe cliffhanger at the end. It is still good, is still very entertaining, and in a lot of ways is my favorite book in the series. It gets a 4.5 out of 5 because of the cliffhanger.

If you want to read it, pick it up on Amazon or though Swaptree.

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* This is the price on the old edition which I received used.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, High Fantasy, Humor, Young Adult Fiction

Searching for Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Searching for Dragons (1992). 242 Pages. Scholastic. $4.99

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Two

Because this is the second book in a series, there are very likely spoilers to the first book. Proceed with caution.

Mendanbar is an unconventional King, which is good, because the Enchanted Forest is an unconventional kingdom. He tries to be active, and take part in his kingdom, instead of getting caught up by formal events like his father, the previous king. One day, while he is out on one of his unconventional walks, he finds a vast dead region in the forest, and dragon scales scattered around the scene. Some confusion and consternation leads him to Morwen, who sends him on to talk to King Kazul.

When Mendanbar gets to King Kazul’s caves in the Mountains of Morning, he finds Cimorene, who admits that Kazul is missing. This is where the title comes into play, as they go on a search for Kazul which leads them on quite an adventure. They meet giants (one of whom Mendanbar advises to leave his current rampaging business and go into consulting), ride a dysfunctional carpet, meet Rumplestiltskin’s grandson (Herman the dwarf), and finally come across Telemain the Magician.

With some help from Telemain and Morwen, Cimorene and Mendanbar manage to get to the root of their problem and locate the missing King Kazul. I’ll give a hint about the end; there are wizards involved. Everything wraps up reasonably well, leaving some room for the adventure which is sure to come in the third book.

The Quick Version:

With nearly as many laughs as Dealing with Dragons, you will find Searching for Dragons to be an enjoyable book. It is targeted toward children, but as with the first book (and the rest of the series) it remains enjoyable as long as you are willing to have a sense of humor about your reading. The ending is predictable (which is fine by me, really), but this book feels like it is missing something which the first book has. I like Mendanbar a lot, but he just seems too clueless about magic at times. The book scores a 4.5 out of 5.

Pick it up from Amazon or Swaptree.

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Dealing with Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Dealing with Dragons (1992). 212 Pages. Scholastic. $6.99

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book One

I read this book when I was young, and then I shared it with my friends. We passed this series around so much that I’m not sure where my original copy is anymore. This alone says something about how good this book is. I feel like it’s the hilight of the series, which is good, because it’s important to start strong.

Cimorene is not your typical beautiful, dumb princess. She is your typical smart, adventurous, princess-who-doesn’t-need-to-get-saved princess. She doesn’t wait around for her prince, and in fact she doesn’t want a prince, she wants adventure, and knowledge.

When Cimorene’s parents try to marry her off, she leaves, and finds herself a dragon to take care of. She ends up with Kazul, a dragon with an extensive library and a love of cherries jubilee (the one thing Cimorene can reliably cook well.) Then, the knights and the wizards insist on pestering her- the knights trying to rescue her, the wizards doing something, which Cimorene can’t quite figure out.

She meets other princesses, a few princes, a few knights, a few wizards, a witch, and quite a few more dragons. She learns all sorts of things about magic, and spends quite some time adventuring. Toward the end of the book, during the climax, she even manages to save Kazul.

Since I read it, they’ve re-published it with a new (and considerably dumber) cover, and a different page count. I worked my butt off to get the original because it’s just so much better. I’d suggest you do, as well, though there is no significant difference besides cover and font between the two.

The Quick Version:

With a fun twist on fairy tales, Dealing with Dragons is a fun read. It’s enjoyable as young as elementary, but keeps appealing through young-adult. It remains good as a grown-up, though some things feel a bit cheesier now than they did then. As the opener to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, it’s excellent. This book gets a 5 out of 5.

Want to enjoy this book? Buy it on Amazon or trade for it on Swaptree.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, High Fantasy, Humor, Young Adult Fiction