Thirteenth Child

Patricia C. Wrede, Author . Scholastic Press $16.99 (344p) ISBN 978-0-545-03342-8

Set in a historical America where magic is part of daily life, Wrede's novel, first in the Frontier Magic series, follows Eff, the 13th child in her family, and the twin of a seventh son of a seventh son. This makes her twin, Lan, a “natural-born magician,” while many see Eff as a curse (“If I spilled my soup, it was done apurpose... if a ball I kicked went astray... it was done deliberately in malice and spite”). Eff's family moves to the North Plains Territory where her father has been offered a professorship near the Great Barrier, the spell set up to protect the settlements from animals, magical and otherwise. Wrede (the Enchanted Forest Chronicles) creates a rich world where steam dragons seem as normal as bears, and a sympathetic character in Eff, who has been scarred by the belief that she is evil. There are hints that Eff has more power than she realizes, but the climax is slow to come and lacks the payoff readers will crave after years of Eff's meekness and playing the role as observer in her own life. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/27/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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