Sunday, December 10, 2006
The Mislaid Magician Or Ten Years After
The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After: Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer;
third in a series : book one: Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country,
book two: The Grand Tour: Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noblewoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality.
I think Wrede & Stevermer get paid based on length of title.
The Plot: Cecy and Kate are two cousins with a knack for stumbling across intrigue. They live in nineteenth century England; it's Jane Austen meets Harry Potter; a magical world that is gentler and kinder than that of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, but equally thrilling and dangerous. In the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Cecy and Kate are teenagers, who save England and find husbands; in the Grand Tour, the have married the men introduced in Chocolate Pot, are touring Europe, and saving either the world or England. It's about ten years later, and so their children also get involved in the fun. This time it has to do with protecting England and helping a magician who has been turned into a dog.
The Good: The stories are told as letters between Cecy and Kate. Part of the fun is realizing that what is happening with Cecy somehow concerns what is going on with Kate, as the letters criss cross each other.
I loved the first two books, and thoroughly enjoyed this latest visit with Cecy and Kate, their families and friends. This is not a standalone book; and it's not a good introduction to this enjoyable alternate England; read this book, yes, but read the series in order.
What puzzles me is why this is a Young Adult book. The Enchanted Chocolate Pot was clearly YA, with the girls in their teens and concerns about family, fathers, aunts, boys, and magic, all told in a very proper Jane Austen/ Regency way. Cecy and Kate aren't that much older in the second book, so (despite being married) I could see why it was marketed as YA. But with Cecy and Kate both mothers, I don't see this as having teen appeal, except for its existence as the third in the series. I guess it's because of publisher imprints and all that business stuff.
That said, this book has nothing inappropriate for teens (or even for younger readers reading up.) I just think that there is an audience for this series in the adult market -- the adults who have read Harry Potter and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell -- who would love this series, yet will never find it. YA librarians often buy books published for adults because of teen appeal; how many times are YA books with adult appeal found in the adult collection?
Links: fansite for the series.
Question for readers: I have that product preview function from Amazon (when your cursor is over the title of the book, you get the picture of the book and other information.) I haven't been including book covers because of that, but now I'm thinking I should go back to adding book covers. What say you?
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