Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Patricia Wrede”

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #22: The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

This was the third and apparently last book about cousins Cecelia and Kate, and while it was good, it was a bit of a letdown after the second book. I think I enjoyed the adventures more when they were together, and this book is back to being epistolary. Cecilia and James leave their numerous children with Kate and Thomas while they go off on a mission from the Duke of Wellington. In this book, the husbands get letters/chapters too, and that definitely adds to the story. All four of them write back and forth as they stumble onto shady characters, magical mysteries, create new spells, and talk endlessly about the children, nannies, and servants.

All the elements of the previous two books are there, but they seem a little less-than somehow. The mystery (a missing wizard and some concern over a newfangled steam train) is fine, but doesn’t come together as gloriously as book two. The letters are great fun to read, but they don’t glow like book one. The characters are still grand, but now they seem weirdly class-conscious, as if having herds of children had made them more aware of their station and their money. All that said, if there was a book four, I would happily read it. The writing and the characters are still great fun, even if this book didn’t wrap itself around my brain like the others did.

A snippet from a letter to James from Thomas:
“I have every confidence in your skill at interrogation and in Daniel’s complacency. The man’s sublime interest in himself is only matched by his serene assumption that the rest of the world shares it. With luck, Daniel will never even notice he’s been questioned.”

The four heroes are smart, resourceful, loyal, and funny. Even a slightly less-than adventure is still a fun ride.

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #21: The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

The first book, Sorcery and Cecilia, was marvelous, and this one was even better. This was one of those sequels that feels like hanging out with old friends. Cecilia has married James, and her best friend/cousin Kate has married Thomas. They leave their Victorian England home to travel the Continent for their honeymoon trip. Being the impetuous, clumsy, curious, adventurous wizards-in-training that they are, they soon find themselves knee-deep in a mystery, which grows into a full-scale conspiracy.

Items of magical significance are disappearing from all over, and the nefarious Mr. Strangle and Sir Hilary (introduced in the first book) are obviously up to something. The Duke of Wellington asks our heroes to keep an eye out for magical items, or clues to the already-taken ones, while they use their honeymoon trip as cover. Along the way, they encounter new villains and new allies, but still manage to have fun.

I found this book in the young adult section, but I love how smart it is. There’s some history (from fashion to Napoleon), some geology (where are the Apennines, and why is it bad to cross them in the summer?), some girl power stuff as Kate and Cecilia fight to make themselves accepted players in the game, and some really interesting magical theory. Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer have put a lot of thought into this world and how it all fits together, and how spells would work in an almost-real world. Thomas is able to study ancient Roman spells and adapt them to ‘current’ (1800s) use, and the science behind the spells is fascinating. 

I feel like a dork ending a review this way, but really, this book made me happy. Up next: Cecelia and Kate, Ten Years Later!

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #18: Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

This was my favorite so far in the Cannonball Read. It was delightful, and it gives me a warm glow to know that there are two more books to enjoy.

Patricia C. Wrede (whose books I have loved since middle school) and Caroline Stevermer (new to me but will be exploring) played the Letter Game to create Cecilia and Kate, a pair of spunky and fearless cousins in the ‘regency romance’ era of a slightly alternate universe, where magic is real, but not often practiced by Young Ladies of Quality. Patricia and Caroline wrote the letters to each other in character as Cecy and Kate as a writing exercise (they describe it in the afterword), then discovered when they reached the end of the game that they’d written a book.

Kate has gone to London for her first Season, while Cecy is left behind in the countryside. Their letters start out fairly typically – who’s wearing what to which party, how overbearing their chaperoning aunts are, and oh, by the way, did you hear our own Sir Hilary got accepted to the Royal College of Wizards. Kate stumbles onto some magical weirdness in London, and Cecilia uses her budding magician tendencies to help in any way she can, sending protective charm bags or theories with nearly every post. Both girls meet infuriating but irresistible boys, worry about siblings falling under nefarious spells, find themselves entangled with evil wizards, and desperately wish they were not separated from each other.

The characters are wonderful, the writing is terrific, the magic is fun, and I may start annoying my friends and family by calling my car a curricle and my purse a reticule. This is one of those books that, upon finishing it, causes a happy sigh and good mood the rest of the day.

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