This book is a delight and a half in its crossbreed of Jane Austen language and Harry Potter events! Cousins and dear friends Cecelia and Kate, separated by distance, write letters to each other to keep up the correspondence. From the start, things do not seem to be right. For instance, at Sir Hilary’s induction into the Royal College of Wizards, Kate wanders through a doorway and into a magical garden, where a witch by the name of Miranda confuses her for a wizard named Thomas and tries to poison her with chocolate from a chocolate pot. After escaping, Kate actually meets Thomas, the Mysterious Marquis of Schofield, whose impudence puts her on her guard, and even more so when, after a few more near-death moments, he makes an offer of marriage to her, so that he will have some protection from the charms of a young lady whom Miranda wants to set upon him.
Meanwhile, outside of London, Cecy befriends Dorothea, the shy girl whose stepmother, the malevolent witch Miranda, placed a charm spell on her so that every guy in her vicinity will fall heads over heels. Dorothea refuses to stand up to Miranda, and it is during one of their strolls that Cecy notices they are being watched by a not-so-subtle James Tarleton, a dark and elegant man who, it turns out, is good friends with Thomas. He warns Cecy not to meddle in the Marquis’ affairs with Sir Hilary and Miranda, but of course Cecy doesn’t heed him, and finds herself sneaking spellbooks out of Sir Hilary’s library and trying to understand more about magic and the significance of a chocolate pot that was once Thomas’ but is now possessed by Sir Hilary for sinister reasons.
SORCERY AND CECELIA was written as an unplanned, unscripted letter game between two authors, and so the beginning may seem slow and hard to get into. But persevere, and you will be greatly rewarded by a pleasing, adventurous, and romantic story. Kate and Cecy, with their lighthearted narration and oftentimes glib observations, are female characters who you will want to befriend.
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Maureen Johnson (Devilish)