Literature: Sorcery & Cecelia
Magical intrigue, murderous plots, and matching gloves.Sorcery & Cecelia
(or, to give it its full title, Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country
) is a Historical Fantasy
novel by Caroline Stevermer
and Patricia C. Wrede
, set in an Alternate History
version of Regency England with wizards
. It is an Epistolary Novel
, consisting of the letters written by Cecelia to her cousin Kate and Kate's letters to Cecelia.
Kate is in London being overshadowed by her socially adept and flighty younger sister, and becomes entangled in a feud between the mysterious Marquis of Schofield and the even more mysterious Miranda, who is probably a sorceress. Cecelia is initially chagrined to be stuck at home in Essex, but soon finds plenty to occupy herself, some of which turns out to have a bearing on Kate's problems in London.
The first draft of the novel was written as a game between the two authors: Stevermer wrote Kate's letters and sent them to Wrede, and Wrede wrote Cecelia's letters and sent them to Stevermer.Sorcery and Cecelia
was originally published in 1988. It was brought back into print in 2003, followed by two newly written sequels, known in the short form as The Grand Tour
and The Mislaid Magician
Stevermer has also written a solo children's novel in the same setting, Magic Below Stairs
, set in the Marquis of Schofield's servants' quarters.
Sorcery and Cecelia and its sequels provide examples of:
- Alternate History
- Badass Normal: James, former aide de camp to Wellington, and who constantly gets mixed up in magical mayhem despite having zero ability for it.
- Baleful Polymorph: The plot of The Mislaid Magician revolves around this.
- Battle Butler: Thomas hires one to protect Kate.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Both couples.
- Beta Couple: She may have her name in the title and shoulder half the plot, but otherwise Cecelia and her love interest tick a lot of the boxes.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Do not mess with Kate's loved ones. Or goats.
- Big Fancy House
- Black Magician Girl: Cecelia. Her foil is Kate, who would be a White Magician Girl if she was at all interested in developing her magical potential.
- Blue Blood
- Boomerang Bigot: Aunt Elizabeth, a former magician who swore off her powers after her fiancé was killed by Sir Hilary, and now holds all magic users in contempt. She gets over it, though.
- Brainy Brunette: Both Cecy and Kate. James and Thomas often wonder if they aren't too clever for their own good.
- Boy Magnet: Georgy and Dorothea, the latter absolutely against her will.
- The Call Has Bad Reception: In The Grand Tour, it is revealed that Kate, who had previously come across as the Distaff Counterpart to Badass Normal James, has just as much magical talent as her cousin Cecelia, but has no interest in developing it.
- In The Mislaid Magician, Kate thinks that she isn't a very good magician because she can only do three things with magic - locate her husband and/or children no matter where they are, contact her husband and/or children no matter where they are, and keep her hair up. Cecelia points out that those are the only three things that has any interest in doing that she needs magic to do.
- Catch Phrase: Cecy: "We simply must do something!"
- Contrived Clumsiness: Cecelia disposes of the chocolate pot in the first book by pretending to "accidentally" spill it.
- Cool Old Lady: Lady Sylvia. And Aunt Elizabeth.
- Cool Train: Not necessarily the trains themselves, but they do really weird things to England's ley lines.
- Cool Uncle: Kate seems to regard Cecelia’s father this way.
- Mr. Wrexton becomes this when he marries Aunt Elizabeth.
- Dance of Romance: Cecy and James first meet at a dance. When Kate and Thomas decide to make their fake engagement a real one, they dance along the streets, at night, all the way home.
- Deadpan Snarker: Practically everyone. The series was, after all, heavily inspired by Jane Austen.
- Dojikko: Kate.
- Don't Tell Mama: Only without mothers, it's usually "Don't Tell Aunt Charlotte/Elizabeth."
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: At the beginning of her Season, Kate has no partners at her first dance except for one who seemed rather distracted during the dance and immediately afterward claimed his dance with her sister, making the sister's magnanimity a little too blatant for Kate.
- Dumb Blonde: Georgy is often referred to by Cecy and Kate as a peagoose. In all fairness, she never challenges that perception.
- Either/Or Title: All three books.
- Epistolary Novel
- Evil Sorcerer: Sir Hilary Bedrick
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Oliver and Cecelia respectively. Also Georgy and Kate.
- French Maid: Played with. Walker is French, but she is a "respectable person" and has trouble finding good work because no one believes this about her.
- Functional Magic
- The Gambling Addict: Kate and Georgy's father. Georgy shows signs of going the same way.
- Gaslamp Fantasy: Regency England with magic!
- Gentleman Wizard
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Georgy is the pretty one. Kate is the smart one (not that Aunt Charlotte acknowledges this). Of course, Kate is perfectly pretty herself, it's only that Georgy is so beautiful as to be the talk of the Ton.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Dorothea is only being used and is actually a perfectly sweet, if spineless girl.
- Her Heart Will Go On: Lady Sylvia has worn only black for years in honor of her husband.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Thomas and James, Kate and Cecelia
- Historical-Domain Character: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- In the Blood: Kate fears she and Georgy will develop their father's gambling habit.
- Karmic Transformation: The villains of The Mislaid Magician
- Kissing Cousins: Georgy and Oliver.
- Lady of Adventure: Lady Sylvia has the most amazing widowhood in all Regency England.
- The Lancer: James Tarleton
- Long Title: All three books.
- Magical Society: There is a Royal Society of wizards, comparable to the Royal Society of scientists in real history; the induction of a character into the Society is a key plot point in the first book.
- Maiden Aunt: Charlotte and Elizabeth. Elizabeth later marries Mr. Wrexton.
- Mama Bear: Kate in The Mislaid Magician.
- Missing Mom: Cecelia's mother died when she was very little.
- Noodle Incident: We never do learn about what happened with Squire Bryant's goat. We do find out that Georgy started it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: As the main characters get involved in spy work, almost everyone uses this at one point or another.
- Old Maid: Aunts Charlotte and Elizabeth. Elizabeth later marries Mr. Wrexton.
- Older Than They Look: Miranda Griscomb. She went to school with Lady Sylvia, who is well into her sixties.
- Open-Minded Parent: In an era where parents were very protective of their daughters, Arthur Rushton is amazingly chill with what his daughter gets up to.
- Parental Substitute: Cecelia et al were raised by a pair of maiden aunts. Aunt Elizabeth seems to have done a much better job than Aunt Charlotte.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat
- Plot-Induced Stupidity: When Kate and Cecy find out that some of Sir Hilary's magic got into the chocolate pot Thomas was using to focus his spells, and Sir Hilary is using the connection to drain Thomas, they repeatedly wonder why Thomas didn't just smash the thing and make a new one. Cecy makes up for lost time by doing exactly that.
- Proper Lady: Dorothea Griscomb, to the point the Cecelia thinks the girl a little dull, even if she is very sweet.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kate delivers an epic one to Aunt Charlotte before moving out of the flat.
Kate: And moreover, Papa has always referred to you as 'that interfering harpy'.
- Releasing from the Promise: The Marquis begs this of Kate once.
- Regency England
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Daniel and Georgy. Georgy is completely convinced her husband is trying to kill her.
- Round Robin: Wrede wrote Cecelia's letters. Stevermer wrote Kate's.
- Scrapbook Story: The first sequel is this, rather than purely epistolary.
- Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle
- Spirited Young Lady: Cecy and Kate, much to the despair of Aunts Charlotte and Elizabeth. This is part of why Cecelia is not allowed to go to London for the season.
- Turn Out Like His Father
- The Unfavourite: Kate, who is always shuffled aside by her guardian Aunt Charlotte in favor of Georgy, blamed for Georgy's misbehavior such as gambling and made to wear the same clothes even when they don't suit her at all. At the end of The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Kate snaps back, stands up for herself and moves out.
- Upper-Class Twit: Oliver. His idea of riveting conversation is to discuss the knotting of a tie.
- Violently Protective Wife: In The Mislaid Magician, Kate mixes this with Mama Bear. Even in dog form. Cecelia also has this for James to some extent.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Of the laconic variety.
Thomas: (to Kate) "I like the idea of marrying you. I think we shall deal extremely well."
- White Hair, Black Heart: Miranda Griscomb. Technically it's a powdered wig, but the style is still anachronistic. This later turns out to be a clue to her real age.
- Wicked Stepmother: Miranda to Dorothea. She plans to marry Dorothea to Thomas Schofield as part of her plot against him.
- Young Future Famous People: Queen Victoria makes an appearance in the third book.