Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic-Book One) --by Patricia Wrede

Fiction / Alternate History / Fantasy

age 7 and up
352 pages
5 stars

Oh, how I wish I'd had this book when I was in elementary school! What a great read for anyone young, or just young at heart! I had a hard time putting it down.

Thirteenth Child is the first of a trilogy, Frontier Magic, and takes place in an alternate United States during frontier times. Magic is common, and at times wild and free.

Eff (her name is Francine, but she prefers Eff) was the first born of a set of twins, the second born, her brother Lan, was the seventh son of a seventh son. As a double 7 his magic would be great. Eff, however, was the thirteenth child. As great as Lan was predicted to be, her aunts and uncles, predicted Eff would be as evil. Lan grew to be filled with confidence and Eff grew so little self-esteem it barely existed.

Fortunately, her parents weren't buying that nonsense, and moved the family to the edge of the frontier. Across the river was wild land, filled with steam dragons (well, a few), mammoths, and all sorts of magical and mundane creatures. Only a Great Spell, mid-river, kept the folk on the eastern shores safe. When people took land grants and ventured into the frontier, they almost always took a couple of magicians with them in order to keep them warded and safe.

All went well, until it didn't. While the family was 'back home' to attend the wedding of one of Eff's older sisters, another sister left at home to come with Father at the last minute  eloped with a Rationalist Rationalists do not believe in magic and will not allow it in their homestead. It was difficult, but they eventually got their land grant and set up a town on the frontier with no magic. The aunts and uncles blamed Eff for the elopement. The aunts and uncles blamed Eff when the other marriage for which they were gathered went off as planned instead of being postponed. Eff was the thirteenth child, and the scapegoat.

Eff's magic keeps materializing at the wrong times, and she fears she'll cause the doom and gloom her aunts and uncles predict. She tries to hide her status, and her magic from her friends on the frontier.

A plague of beetles and grubs attacked the frontier towns and farms, destroying all the crops, in every town except where the Rationalists live. The whole frontier is thrown into chaos, not just Eff's family. Can Eff survive being the thirteenth child? Can the plague be stopped? Can Eff learn to use her magic in time? Can you resist reading this marvelous book?

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