(1955- ) US writer and newspaperwoman who began writing fantasy with The Serpent's Egg (1988). Set in a Land-of-Fable 16th-century Europe, it is a Dynastic Fantasy about a conspiracy to counter a ruthlessly ambitious duke who has the queen's ear. Written in a plain but elegant style, it was a deft and very strong debut. Sorcery and Cecelia (1988) with Patricia Wrede is an epistolary Regency romance with Magic. It follows the conventions of its genre with satisfying faithfulness (each collaborator controlling a separate plot, the two eventually dovetailing), with the detailed and consistent magic adding an unusual frisson. River Rats (1992) received the ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age. Its post-Holocaust landscape seems to call for sf protocols, but, with its Mississippi riverboat which functions as a movable Polder and the crew who embody a "rock'n'roll will save your life" philosophy that links the book closely to Terri Windling's Borderlands series (but without Elves), it can profitably be read as fantasy. A College of Magics (1994), set in a 1908 Ruritania, concerns the Duchess of Galazon, sent to school to learn magic and who subsequently finds her place in the wider world. It combines Bildungsroman, dynastic fantasy, swashbuckling romance and an unusual postulation of the magical structure of the world. It is her most satisfying work to date.
In her tendency to let witty and ironic dialogue carry the narrative, in her use of Regency and Ruritania and rock'n'roll, CS has proved herself a practised hand at Fantasy of Manners. [DK]
other works: The Alchemist: Death of a Borgia (1981) and The Duke and the Veil (1981), historical mysteries as by C J Stevermer.
Caroline J Stevermer