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The Grand Tour    by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer order for
Grand Tour
by Patricia C. Wrede
Order:  USA  Can
Magic Carpet, 2006 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The long, elaborate title - The Grand Tour or 'The Purloined Coronation Regalia: 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' - of Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's novel captures the feel of the story perfectly, that of a 19th century book (a time when authors where prone to describing their work in as much detail as possible with the title). However, Wrede and Stevermer do an excellent job of combining 19th century storytelling with a 21st century fondness for magic in young adult literature.

This sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia follows English cousins Kate and Cecy on their honeymoon journey across the continent with their new husbands, Thomas Schofield and James Tarleton. As they progress from France to Italy, magic and mystery tag along. It all starts when a strange bottle is clandestinely delivered to Thomas's mother in France. It's an artifact from the French coronation regalia that went missing during Napoleon's campaigns across Europe. However, the bottle is not long in Lady Schofield's possession before highwaymen rob their carriages after rendering their magic useless.

Determined to discover what's behind the secrecy and theft, Cecy and Kate, much to the chagrin of their husbands, search for answers among both ancient sites and high society. As they travel south, murdered bodies begin to pile up behind them, until everything becomes clear in Italy. Finally, Thomas and Cecy must use their magic in a race to stop an unsuitable Emperor of Europe from being crowned.

The Grand Tour has the feeling of a Jane Austen or Emily Bronté novel, but is much more fast paced. Wrede and Stevermer eloquently capture the feel of the early 1800s while providing the magical undertones that today's readers enjoy. Also, the magic is very well-researched covering both ancient rites and more modern ways of spell casting, similar to those used by Wiccans.

The one drawback of The Grand Tour is its constant references to events from Sorcery and Cecelia which are hard to follow for those who haven't read the first book. This would be more reasonable if the description of the book identified it as part of a series. Also, though a stand alone sequel can encourage the new reader to pick up the first book, unfortunately The Grand Tour gives away much of the plot of Sorcery and Cecelia which dampens the desire to wish to read it afterwards.

The Grand Tour is an entertaining book for readers who enjoy period novels, but I encourage starting it only after reading Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's first novel about Kate and Cecy.

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