Ten years have passed since Kate and Cecy married Thomas and James, and England is now being transformed by the first railways. When the Duke of Wellington asks James to look into the sudden disappearance of a German railway engineer, James and Cecy's search reveals a shocking truth ...
The railway lines are wreaking havoc with ancient underground magical ley lines, which could endanger the very unity of England. Meanwhile, Kate has her hands full taking care of all their children, not to mention the mysterious mute girl Drina, rescued from a kidnapper! The letters between Kate and Cecy, and between their husbands, blend magic, mystery, adventure, humor, and romance.
Patricia Collins Wrede was born in Chicago, Illinois and is the eldest of five children. She started writing in seventh grade. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in Biology and managed to avoid taking any English courses at all. She began work on her first novel, Shadow Magic, just after graduating from college in 1974. She finished it five years later and started her second book at once, having become permanently hooked on writing by this time.
Patricia received her M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1977. She worked for several years as a financial analyst and accountant, first with the Minnesota Hospital Association, then with B. Dalton Booksellers, and finally at the Dayton Hudson Corporation headquarters.
Patricia finished her first novel in late 1978. In January, 1980, Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust, Nate Bucklin, and Patricia Wrede -- all, at that point, hopeful but unpublished -- formed the writer's group that later became known as "The Scribblies." Several years later, they were joined by Kara Dalkey. In April of 1980, Patricia's first novel sold to Ace Books. It came out at last in 1982, which is the year she met Lillian Stewart Carl (who introduced her to Lois McMaster Bujold by mail).
In 1985, shortly before the publication of her fifth book, she left the world of the gainfully employed to try winging it on her own.
Her interests include sewing, embroidery, desultory attempts at gardening, chocolate, not mowing the lawn, High Tea, and, of course, reading. She is a vegetarian, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her cat Karma. She has no children.
This should really be retitled Being the Private Correspondence of Two Families... Which Explains Why It Would Only Be Of Interest to These Two Families. Come on, book, everyone knows the Tolstoy rule of happy families: "All happy families are alike." Which is why one could not be interested in the slightest in reading hundreds and hundreds of pages about them- especially when the excuse of a plot couldn't be more lame, or less suspenseful. Oh, please, do not get me started on the characters- or rather, lack thereof.
I will safely say this, authors: Jane Austen is not proud of you. She awards you no points, and may God have mercy on your fangirlishness that ended in giving the words "In the style of Jane Austen" on the back cover a bad name. If little girls read this first and turn away from Jane in consequence, that's on you people!
I read the two sequels to Sorcery and Cecelia in one go. More tales of upper-class nineteenth-century magical England, told by letter and written recollection.
Eh. A lot of the giddy charm of the first book was apparently novelty, because it had really worn off by the end here. And without it you have some generic sort of intrigue, some jokes that aren't actually funny, and historically creepy gender politics. Not bad books, you know? Just nothing more than vaguely neutral, if you know what I mean.
The third in the series started by Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (a book that was out of print for many years and only enjoys its current revival thanks to the popularity bestowed to youth fantasy by a certain British author and her bespectacled wizardy brat), this book joins the apparently growing genre of period fantasy written in the style of Jane Austen (the only other example of which I know is Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange Mr Norrell).
At various times I thought; this is funny!; this is a bit dull; this doesn't have the fizz of the first; whoa - ley lines - cool!; this [spoiler] rocks; I'm not quite involved enough to follow all the twists and turns; early days of the railway - fun; What?! It was preventing Cromwell from -- what are you *saying*?!; LEY LINES - very cool!; oh great, now we have a stereotypically bolshie, up-himself Irishman; the [spoiler] is even better now; enough with the kids already; she's WHO?; this is SO not YA; and now it's funny again.
It's got some really wonderful bits, not entirely successfully blended for my taste, and comes very close to saying something pretty awful about magic, Cromwell & the Parliamentarians, and the Royalists. I'm not at all sure whether it does say it, doesn't mean to say it at all, or is actually confused on the matter itself (as it were). Given that the book - like the previous two - is a sort of magical detective novel - it's hard to talk about some of the twists and turns any more coherently than this. Even if I were feeling particularly coherent about it or anything.
Cecy and Kate have become staid married mothers, at least in their own estimation, but that does not stop another adventure from enfolding them. Cecy is now an experienced magician while Kate only knows the few spells that she really cares about, but happily she is back to the same feisty person she was in the first book. There is a lot going on here with mysterious seemingly unconnected events happening to the cousins on opposite ends of the country which, it slowly emerges, are not so unconnected after all. I felt inordinately proud of myself for figuring out who the mysterious, silent child was well before the book told me, I am not usually very good at that sort of thing.
As the title says, this volume picks up 10 years after 'The Grand Tour', and Kate and Cecelia are both settled into their families with Thomas and James and their various broods.
Once again the story is told via letters back and forth, and this has some of the same issues as before - it took me a bit to settle back into which character was which, and had to remind myself at the start of ever perspective change who was who.
(Part of this is just my brain acting in odd ways. As they are written in letters, they start off with a form of address - but, in some books I've read with perspective shifts, the person who's perspective it is heads up the chapter name... so when I would read the address my brain would pick it up as the person who the letter was *from*. I was able to get past this after awhile, though, so I guess we can write it off as a brain quirk.)
Anyway - the letters work better than the diary/deposition thing from the last book, and we also get letters from James and Thomas this time. Once again I felt the two women's style were a bit too similar, but there is a definite difference between the women's styles and the men's. (I also really liked adding the men's letters over the the whole "James said such and such" all the time.)
One of the things I liked was when you'd see the same event from the different perspective of one of the couples - for instance, both Cecelia's letter to Kate and James's letter to Thomas would mention the same event - but it was interesting, and often funny, to see their different takes and ways of describing things.
It was also nice to see the kids and their various goings on, which actually tied in with everything rather nicely and didn't seem tacked on at all.
The mystery at the heart of this one was pretty well done, too. I really liked all the stuff with the ley lines and the junctions at the standing stones. It was well paced, overall, and it was nice that both sets of letters had interesting things going on, even though James and Cecelia seemed more in the thick of things. My only real complaint on this front is the reveal got a bit too telly. I suppose it's just one of the limitations of this style of writing - it would be hard to convey it in any other way, but I kind of started glazing over as the reveal went on a few pages too long.
Overall, an enjoyable story and a nice conclusion to the trilogy.
Ten years after the events of The Grand Tour, Kate and Thomas and Cecy and James are settled down on their respective estates with their families, when James is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a German railroad engineer who was traveling in England. The investigation quickly opens a whole can of worms and draws in Kate and Thomas also, as well as other family members (I was particularly pleased to meet Aunt Elizabeth again).
The epistolary story moves along nicely and is cleverly woven back and forth from character to character and plot thread to plot thread. This time there are letters from Thomas and James too, which I really liked; it adds a whole new dimension to their characters and their relationships (especially to each other).
3.5 stars rounding up. The Mislaid Magician was a fun, light read and almost as good as the first book in the series. The authors do a good job with epistolary writing, their characters are warm and funny, Regency England makes a great setting and adding a bit of magic makes the book charming.
I only somewhat liked Sorcery and Cecilia, and I did not like The Grand Tour. So why did I put myself through reading the third installment of Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevemer’s trilogy? Clearly, I am insane.
Like Sorcery, The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After is written in epistolary form. Cousins Cecilia and Kate correspond with each other (along with occasional, inane missives from their husbands).
I was initially intrigued by Wrede and Stevemer’s writing experiment. The authors exchange chapters without knowing what the other will write. However, in Mislaid, it is clear they have no idea where the plot is going or if they want to have a plot at all. Instead, the book absolutely plods and meanders.
This lack of purpose is obvious as the cousins write about their children. They mention what they ate. They include long descriptions of trains. Real life is boring. I read fiction to escape the inanities of life—not to suffer through them.
The book’s plot and pace doesn’t pick up until well past 200 pages. By this time, though, I had little interest in what would happen.
Unfortunately, the book—which could have been interesting (I mean, it has magic and Regency England for goodness sakes)—is tedious to the end.
The dénouement is actually the biggest offender of all. A few short pages explain away everything that happens in the 300 previous. It is like Hercule Poirot revealing the details of the crime—minus the charismatic Poirot and Agatha Christie’s writing ability.
The best I can say about this book is that it is over. And there isn’t a fourth in the series.
The third book in this Regency magical mystery epistolary series finds Cesy and James leaving their children with Kate and Thomas while they track down a missing magical surveyor who was investigating the connection between ley lines and the new iron trains. Meanwhile, though, Kate and Thomas find themselves saddled not only with Cesy’s too clever by half twins, but with a mysterious child, Drina, who will not talk of her past. Magicians are turning into dogs, there is a social-climbing and obnoxious sister and brother set, a dangerous man pushing the protections on their homes, and Georgy has come to stay and is crying without telling anyone what is going on with her husband. All together, this makes for a thoroughly enjoyable page turner that is at times laugh out loud funny and always thoroughly, utterly enchanting, not only in its clever use of the epistolary format and the magical realism elements, but in its Regency/Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer voice and tone. The characters (particularly the addition of the hellions—I mean children) are so perfect. A wonderful vacation of a book that is so utterly perfect. Grand Tour was good, but this is better and almost as good as the first book. Grade: A
2019 bk 398. 2021 bk 224 - read again - still fun! Back in The Grand Tour, mention is made of the quartet's self then and what it will be in ten years. Wrede and Stevermer provide us this look at the ten year image in this book. Thomas/Kate and James/Cece have multiple children with varied talents. Kate, after learning 3 spells, is satisfied to go no further with her magic while Cecelia continues to study and learn. Wellington is now the Prime Minister and he has a job for James and Cece - find a missing German magician/surveyor in the north of England. While keeping James and Cece's children the Schofield's run into their own mystery/mysteries. Kate's sister turns up on their doorstep and won't say why she has left her husband. Mystery 2 involves the disappearance of their son, Edward, Kate's find spell works wonders to track him down, but he has been locked up with a beautiful young girl who refuses to speak. Add to all of this are series of stone circles that cause magicians to turn into dogs, or and James and Cece's twins have learned how to scry using india ink - which means no one has any privacy any longer. A delightful book. It looks as if it will be the last, but there is always hope for another...
I genuinely enjoyed this book. I've really liked the series from the time I started it, so I was very excited to continue on with it.
This book follows Kate and Cecelia ten years after the Grand Tour, and now they have children. Both families have stayed connected to one another and are very close. When James is sent to examine railroads and disturbances in Northern England, he and Cecelia leave their children with Kate and Thomas. Although very different stories at first, the views of both couples on the happenings where they are are equally compelling and they end up tying together quite nicely at the end.
I found a few dull parts where it seemed like they were simply writing the mundane things going on, and the end was slightly muddled for me, but nonetheless, I enjoyed the story and the letter game it continued. I've been so impressed by it that I seem to be taking on some habits of language from England in the 1820s!
I really appreciated that this final novel in the trilogy returned to the epistolary format I loved in the first book. However, like the second book this was too long and would have benefitted from editing. Overall, glad I read the trilogy. 3.5 stars
One star is probably too harsh but two stars...can't do it. Again, this suffers because none of our characters are really in danger - in the first book - there was a powerful magician trying to kill Kate and Thomas - and Cecy takes on a powerful magician trying to take Thomas's magic. It's not that things don't happen to them in this story but it is only a by product of their investigation - not a direct attack because of who they specifically are.
In the first book - the story is told between letters from Kate to/from Cecy. In the second book the story is told from the travel journals of Kate/Cecy. In this story it's back to letters only the husbands are exchanging letters as well.
This story has a completely BORING plot having to do with railroads - I would offer more information but I was so bored that I skipped pages whenever this plot line was on the page (usually between the husbands)
While Cecy has more action - action in all small letters - Kate is at home taking care of her kids and Cecy's kids - competely out of the action. There is a useless and uninteresting plot with her sister - and a bit of a tie in with what Cecy and James are investigating due to finding a kidnapped child (who turns out to be the future Queen Victoria) ...don't ask. Again, like the last book -I am perfectly will to accept magic in this world but not a stupid plot.
Kate and Cecy - our hero's in the first book are completely uninteresting in the last two books. And I do have one huge question. How do James and Cecy live such an extravagant lifestyle. He is not of the nobility - like Thomas -so where is he getting his money?
This one was much better than the second, but not quite as fun as the first. I did like the inclusion of Thomas and James' correspondence in this one as they were a nice mix-up of voice and approach. Especially as there were still times where Kate just annoyed me so badly. All in all, a fun read though nothing spectacular. Pretty predictable but interesting systems of magic and mostly likeable characters.
I’m delighted that the return to the epistolary format brought the series back to the quality of the first novel in the series! That was my hope, after feeling lukewarm with the 2nd in the trilogy. Seeing Thomas, Kate, James, and Cecilia as parents and enjoying further adventures was great fun. I was happy that Thomas and James joined in the letter-writing, and the pacing was much better in this third book. I was especially glad to see Kate get her magical groove on a couple of times. I was worried at first that thread from book 2 was being dropped.
Recommended for folks who like historical fantasy with humor and romance. If you’re looking for tame, light romance in a fantasy setting, this is for you.
Cecy and Kate, now older and wiser... okay, let me start again. Cecy and Kate, now older and sassier, continue onward with their shenanigans while being mothers. Still funny. Still sticking their noses into things. Literally, in Kate's case. A great conclusion to their adventures.
This story takes place after the main characters--two couples--have been married for ten years, having a bunch of kids. Although they're minor characters, the kids add quite a lot to the story, a lot of interest and unique plot points, so I like it.
It's the same kind of story as the first two, a sort of genteel magical adventure, taking place in a magical version 19th Century England. Like the first two, there's a mystery that must be investigated, leading to some pretty real adventure, though much of the action and dialogue is still very Austen-like. (Which is cool.) If anything, I thought this was the most interesting of the three books, with the danger to the children providing additional emotional impact that paid off. (The kids' magical map and other magical shenanigans were fun.)
The only thing I didn't much care for is the format. The whole series is told in the form of letters, which is interesting at times, and was kinda fun in the first book, but I feel like it spoils the drama and tension too often. I got pretty weary of it, TBH. ("Your kids are fine, but let me tell you the crazy stuff that happened to them yesterday" kind of gives the action away.) I still liked it, but I was wishing I could read it with more straightforward kind of narration.
Despite that preference, I enjoyed the book and series enough to recommend it for all readers of Austen-flavored Regency fantasy, especially those that prefer them to lean toward the cozy end of the spectrum.
Ordinarily a big fan of both the authors, this was a poor showing for both of their talents. There was too much inundation of technical information that in the end seemed pretty irrelevant and unimportant. The pacing of the story was stilted and extremely slow. The connection to the characters was not strong. I kept waiting for Something, anything exciting to happen. It didn't. All in all I was disappointed that nothing (other then the addition of children) had really changed about the characters and their lives. I did like the addition of James and Thomas's letters to each other. And I think Thomas' sarcasm was what kept me reading all the way to the end.
Hooray! This third book in the "Cecilia & Kate" series makes a return not only to the epistolary style of the first, but also to the upbeat pace and fun character developments that were missing in the second. It still falls a step behind "Sorcery & Cecelia" in relative plot believability and clarity, but it had some of the same strengths and even a few novelties to recommend it: This time, in addition to letters between Kate & Cecelia, we are privy to letters between Thomas & James, which I found very enjoyable. Also, there were new characters to explore, in the children of both families.
Don't get me wrong--even though I didn't rate this book as highly, I did enjoy reading it. Kate and Cecy feel like old friends, and spending a little time with them is always fun.
It's just that I think long-termed wedded bliss is hard to write in an interesting way (not impossible, just hard) and for me it felt like a little bit of the spark was missing. Kate and Cecy as young moms just didn't feel quite as engaging--although the kids were cute!
I did like the plot, which was nice and twisty and full of magical logic (or logical magic?)
This can be read without reading the others, but I recommend starting at the first.
These are epistolary novels taking place in a Regency England with magic. The world is very little changed from our historical world.
Cecelia and Kate are the main letter writers. In this novel, the main piece of magic is ley lines. Learning about them, who's manipulating them, and how railroads are affecting them are all parts of the mystery.
I've always like this series but Lucy Rayner's fabulous narration notched it up even higher on my favorites list. By book three, I felt that this truly was Cecelia and Kate speaking through the magic of a particular library fairy named Libby, who lets me download books from a cloud onto a little glass rectangle that lives in my pocket. Just as magical as the steam engines and ley lines that turn magicians into puppies and back again.