Tuesday, April 3, 2007

'The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After' by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

ISBN: 0152055568
Format: Paperback, 469pp
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Price: $6.95

In Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, the magical adventures of cousins Cecelia and Kate in 1817 England start. But in this England magic is an everyday occurrence and both Cecelia and Kate have a talent for it. The story is told by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer through letters between the two cousins. While one is stuck in the country, the other has a season in London and what first seems like two separate storylines soon converge.

With The Grand Tour, or The Purloined Coronation Regalia, Cecelia and Kate are newly married and traveling across Europe together on a grand tour with their husbands. This time Ms. Wrede and Ms. Stevermer told the story through diary entries and depositions.

The Mislaid Magician, or Ten Years After is exactly what the title says it is. The third installment picks up ten years after Grand Tour and we find Cecelia and Kate still happily married with children. This book is once again told via letters although it is not just Cecelia’s and Kate’s voice we hear but their husbands, James and Thomas, as well.

In this mad-cap adventure Cecelia and James are called to the north of England to discover the whereabouts of a disappeared magician. While Kate and Thomas stay at their country home they keep an eye on their children as well as Cecelia’s. Like in the other two books, two seemingly separate storylines come together in the end.

While Cecelia seems to have all the fun without the children, Kate has all the fun with them. But before things get too comfortable, Kate’s ditzy sister Georgy shows up refusing to say why she has suddenly come to visit. Not only will she not give her reasons but she asks that Kate not tell anyone where she is.

So how are the mislaid magician and the sister in hiding related? You’ll just have to read to find out. You will thoroughly enjoy discovering all the answers as well as the comic mishaps of these two families. I enjoyed reading the ‘letters’ between the characters, each revealing just a little bit more of the story, one more twist in the plot or one more smile.

I’ve read a lot of books that are told in letters or e-mails. Usually it’s a gimmick, one author playing both sides as it were. But having Ms. Wrede and Ms. Stevermer write the letters for their characters gives this book, as well as the others, a much more authentic feel. Cecelia and Kate have such separate real voices it‘s hard to believe that all is really just fiction. It’s a lot like stumbling across your great-grandmother's letters in the attic - but instead of just having part of the story you get to enjoy it all.

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