Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Princess Cimorene is tired of embroidery, etiquette, and protocol classes. She wants to take Latin, fencing, magic, and cooking lessons instead. But, that's just "not done." So to avoid a betrothal to a handsome and charming (but not particularly bright) prince, she runs away to become housekeeper for a dragon. As a dragon's princess, Cimorene gets the freedom to cook and clean and to organize libraries and treasure rooms. She also has to fend off persistent knights who come to rescue her, and investigate the actions of a couple of sneaky wizards.
Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing with Dragons is a refreshing change from some of the more recent fantasy epics aimed at teenage girls. It's light, fun, and often hilarious as it pokes fun at several fairy tales and fantasy clichés. The plot moves rapidly and the writing is clear and precise. The... Read More
Patricia C. Wrede(1953- )
Patricia C. Wrede is an American fantasy writer, born in Chicago, Illinois; she is the eldest of five children. She finished her first book in 1978, working as an accountant and financial analyst in the meantime. In 1980 she was a founding member of The Scribblies who also included Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust, and Nate Bucklin. She is a vegetarian and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her three cats. She has no children of her own, but has four nieces and four nephews.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles — (1985-1990) Young adult. A boxed set is available. Publisher: Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart… And bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon… and finds the family and excitement she’s been looking for.
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Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Cecelia and Kate — Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. (1988-2006) Publisher: A great deal is happening in London and the country this season. For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. There’s also the man who seems to be spying on Cecelia. (Though he’s not doing a very good job of it — so just what are his intentions?) And then there’s Oliver. Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is. Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives… if only they weren’t having so much fun!
Sorcery and Cecelia (The Enchanted Chocolate Pot) by Patricia C. Wrede
To best understand Sorcery and Cecelia one has to first flick to the back of the book in order to read the authors' afterword in which they explain the format and history of their story. After hearing of a game called "The Letter Game," Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer decided to have a go — each took on the persona of two young women in a more magically favoured 1800's, and wrote to each other concerning their activities. Patricia Wrede plays the role of Cecelia Rushton, living in the country and somewhat envious of her cousin Kate Talgarth (Caroline Stevermer) who is being presented to Society in London. And so the correspondence began, each woman drawing on the magical angle of their created world as well as a 'Jane Austen' flavour, so tell each other of the gra... Read More
The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede
We last saw the cousins Cecelia and Kate at the conclusion of Sorcery and Cecelia:The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, in which they had foiled a devious plot and found true love with their new husbands, Thomas Schofield and James Tartleton. The story was unique because it was told in the format of letters between the two cousins, each one telling the other about their separate adventures; and as they did with their previous collaboration, the authors Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer each take a character (Wrede is Cecelia; Stevermer is Kate) and write to one another, each one adding aspects to the story till they join up at its conclusion. Things are a little different this time around considering the authors write in the format of a journal and a testimony, instead of letters.
The Kate and Cecelia stories (so far there ha... Read More
Frontier Magic — (2009-2012) Young adult. Publisher: Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he’s supposed to possess amazing talent — and she’s supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild. With wit and wonder, Patricia Wrede creates an alternate history of westward expansion that will delight fans of both J. K. Rowling and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
Imagine what the settling of the West would have been like if, along with hunger, drought, and malaria, the settlers also had to deal with dragons. Patricia Wrede’s Thirteenth Child is a sort of a magical version of Little House on the Prairie. Eff is the titular thirteenth child, which means she is a beacon of bad luck and will curse all those around her as she ages. Her twin brother Lan is a seventh son of a seventh son, which traditionally means that he will be incredibly lucky and magically powerful. When she’s four years old and Eff’s uncle accuses her of cursing his house, her family moves to the frontier, where her father has accepted a position as a professor of magic at a new land grant university.
This is an engaging tale. Having grown up in a large family with a wide range of ages, I can sa... Read More
Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede
Eff is back in this alternative magical history of the settling of the West. After the encounter with the mirror bugs that almost destroyed most of the settlements across the Great Barrier and came close to killing Eff’s brother and father, Eff gets hired on to a small expedition to chart the extent of the mirror bugs’ devastation. What they find surprises everyone — magic has completely disappeared from the soil and all the magical plants and animals are gone. As their journeys continue, they find further evidence of large scale migrations of animals as they respond to the changes in their habitat. But what is even stranger is that it looks like animals are fleeing something in the unexplored West — something that has the capacity to turn animals to stone in an instant. Animals… and humans.
Across the Great Barrier, the sequel to Patricia Wr... Read More
The Seven Towers by Patricia C. Wrede
I was strangely dissatisfied by The Seven Towers but really couldn’t figure out what exactly was the problem until I sat down to write the review. I normally start with a plot summary, and I couldn’t figure out how to summarize the story. A lot of stuff happens, and a lot of characters run around and do a lot of things, but there is a fundamental disjointedness to the story that is exacerbated by the multiple points of view.
The Seven Towersis the story of one world’s attempt to defeat the Matholych, a magical beast that reappears at long intervals and eats magical power. The most power is gained from killing people, so the beast wreaks havoc when it appears. The seven nations must join together to defeat the creature, but this time of turmoil is also used for various people to advance agendas of thei... Read More
Black Thorn, White Rose edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Black Thorn, White Rose is the second in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's series of adult fairy-tale anthologies. I'd have to say that this is my favorite of the bunch; most of the volumes are good, but this one has so many wonderful stories that have stayed with me for years. A few highlights:
"Stronger Than Time," by Patricia C. Wrede , is a sad but hopeful take on "Sleeping Beauty," told through the eyes of Arven, an ordinary peasant widower. He has lived his whole life in the shadow of a mysterious briar-guarded tower. When a prince enlists his help breaching the tower's defenses, the reader is just as surprised as Arven is. Why does the prince need Arven's help? I dare you not to mist up a little when all is revealed.
... Read More
Lyra — (1982-1997) Young adult. Publisher: In Alkyra, children’s tales are told of a time long past when humankind shared the land with folk who had magic in their blood and bones: the small, fierce Wyrd of the forests; the proud Shee in their mountains citadel carved of ice-white rock; and the shimmering Neira of the dark sea. As a child, Alethia had shivered in delicious fright when the bards sang the lays of Alkyra’s mythical past. But as a grown woman her nightmares come from the world of human reality: the spreading discontent in a land ruled by querulous noble families, and the soft rumors of war. As a daughter of one of Alkyra’s leading families, she has no time now for children’s tales. Until she learns that they are all true.
Magic and Malice — (1991-1997) Publisher: Kim doesn’t hesitate when a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into the travelling magician’s wagon in search of a silver bowl. Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London — disguised as a boy! — has schooled her in one hard lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But there is something odd about this magician. He isn’t like the other hucksters and swindlers that Kim is used to. When he catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for.Until he suggests she become his apprentice. Kim wonders how tough it could be faking a bit of hocus pocus.But Mairelon isn’t an act. His magic is real.
Snow White and Rose Red — (1989) A retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Publisher: Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be concerned when they find two human sorcerers setting spells near the border. And when the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest. This romantic version of the classic fairy tale features an updated introduction by its editor, Terri Windling.
Book of Enchantments — (1996) Publisher: This witty and charming collection of ten short fantasies includes a story, set in the Enchanted Forest, about Queen Cimorene’s Frying Pan of Doom; a zany yarn about a magical blue chipmunk with a passion for chestnuts; and an eerie tale of a caliph who turns his vizier’s daughter into a wolf.
Issue 44 of Apex Magazine leads off with “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” by Eugie Foster. It would take a hard heart to resist a story that starts like this: “Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair.” In the world Foster has created, one can become a god when the Karma Committee appears at her door bearing prizes akin to the Publishers Clearinghouse bonanza. Trixie uses her power to get rid of the jerks who write sexist, homophobic or racial comments on public internet forums. Can we all agree that we really need a goddess like this? But the work is growing less satisfactory lately; Trixie is having a mid-goddess crisis. The story is about how she gets past it, and it is as satisfying as it is funny.
Lettie Prell’s “The Performance Artist” asks serious questions about what constitutes life in a world where people can do... Read More