The Mislaid Magician

“Our esteemed prime minister, His Grace, the Duke of Wellington, may be the greatest general in the history of England, but I doubt he has ever had to deal with uprooting a household of children on a moment’s notice. I expect I will have a few things to say on the subject when next I see him.”

I finally got around to reading The Mislaid Magician, or Ten Years After, the follow up to Sorcery and Cecelia and The Grand Tour. These epistolary novels feature letters between Regency cousins Cecelia and Kate, which are written separately by YA fantasy authors Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. This volume also includes correspondence between their husbands James and Thomas.

Ten years have passed since the events of the last two books, and Cecy and Kate are busy with raising families. James is asked by his friend the Duke of Wellington to look into the disappearance of a magician and railway surveyor, so he and Cecy leave their brood with Kate and head off to the north of England. Soon the cousins find themselves immersed in a bed of questions: Where is the missing surveyor? Why are the ley lines, sources of magical energy, behaving strangely around Haliwar Tower? And why has Kate’s sister Georgy left her husband and come to the country just at the start of the London Season? Before the end even the fate of the government may be at stake, and it will take ingenuity, magic, and a little bit of luck for them to get to the bottom of everything.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy these books–think Georgette Heyer meets Harry Potter. This is an alternate nineteenth century England where magic is accepted and regulated, and both Thomas and Cecy are wizards. Yet at the same time there is wit and detail like you would expect in a Regency story, such as worrying over the color of drapes or what is acceptable in Society. Even if fantasy isn’t your preferred genre (I’m only a casual reader myself), the first book is worth a try.

I’m really amazed at the creativity and intricacy of the plot. The authors do not consult about plot in advance but merely write and send the letters, building off of each other. They create a complex array of disparate elements, and somehow find a way to tie everything up neatly by the end. The final details about ley lines were a bit foggy, but everything connected so well that I really can’t complain–after all, we’re talking theory about non-existing things. This writing method also means that the two main characters and their husbands have distinct voices, so that even though the letters are long it’s easy to remember who’s writing.

Some people thought that this third book was a decline, especially with the existence of children, but in my view it added a whole new dimension to the story. Cecy’s two oldest have inherited her skills, and along with Kate’s son have their mothers’ tendency to get mixed up in things. I do hope they Wrede and Stevermer will continue the story! There is definitely much more potential, as long as Kate and Cecy remain the main focus.

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Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 12:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] The Mislaid Magician, by Caroline Stratover and Patricia Wrede: This epistolary adventure from magical Regency England is not as good as the first two, and still made my list. […]


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