Friday, January 17, 2014

The Grand Tour or The Purloined Coronation Regalia

Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Completed 1/16/2014, Reviewed 1/16/2014
4 stars

Like the first book, Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour is a delightful young adult fantasy novel told from the perspective of Kate and Cecelia.  Instead of being epistolary in form, the narrations are drawn from Kate’s diary and Cecelia’s official account written for investigating authorities.  It’s a quick read full of magic and 19th century British manners.  When I began the book, it had been nearly a month since finishing the first book.  Settling in with the first few pages, I was immediately transported to the funny, warm place that is the world of Kate and Cecelia.

In the second book of the series, the cousins are now married and embarking on their joint honeymoon with their husbands Thomas and James.  In the tradition of the time, they are taking The Grand Tour, a trip through some of the loveliest cities on continental Europe.  Along they way, they uncover a mystery of ancient magic and artifacts that may alter the fate of the whole continent. 

As with many sequels, a little of the charm of the first part is missing.  One of the greatest parts of “Sorcery and Cecelia” was two young Victorian ladies discovering a world of magic and intrigue they had never encountered before.  In this book, the focus is on the plot.  The characters are already established and growing in their and relationships to each other and to magic.  The book is still wonderful in its own right.  I wasn’t let down in any way.  I was happy to return to the world created by authors. 

I really enjoyed the development of the mystery.  I have a fondness for Europe and its antiquities, which provide the clues to solving the mystery.  It is not complex, but it is a fun, fast-paced ride.  And as with many books of this genre, there is always some dastardly wizard trying to do great evil.  What’s most fun about this series is that it’s primarily two proper young ladies trying to foil the grand scheme. 

This book and the series in general are simple and enjoyable.  There’s nothing profound here.   I found it a little tough to write this review because I usually comment on the depth of the characters and their relationships.  Instead, I just want to keep repeating what a wonderful experience of escapism this book provides.  As I did with the first book, and as I probably will with the third in the series, I will overuse these three adjectives:  fun, delightful, and fast-paced.  That said (or maybe over-said), I highly recommend this book and give it four stars.  

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