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20 November 2009

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic #1)

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede is the first book in her Frontier Magic series. It is sort of an alternate history with magic of the old west.

Eff (short for Francine which she hates) is the thirteenth child born to her parents. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son and thought to be a natural magician and full of good luck. But superstition says that Eff will take her magical abilities and turn bad.

In the city where they were born that may have become a self-fulfilling prophesy - most of her extended family had her convinced that she was bad when she was being a normal kid. When her father was offered a job teaching at a magic college in the far west, all the way to the Mammoth River where the line of magic that protected people from the wild was set up.

As Eff grows from nine to sixteen, the book tells of her study of not only the dominant magic of Avrupa, but some of the techniques of Aphrikan and Hijero-Cathayan as well. She becomes a young woman who is afraid of her potential and must learn how to control her magic.

Wrede has created a world that is both magical and has the feel of frontier life. Magic makes everyday chore easier but some feel that magic is used as a crutch. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

My only less than enthusiastic comment is that I find it odd that with all of the other changes from our own history, the people in the book still celebrate Christmas and read the Bible. Is it because Christianity was so prevalent in our own settlement that it felt authentic to the plot or that Wrede lives in a part of the US where people forget that there are other faiths? It does not detract from the story in any way, it just surprised me when all of a sudden, with no noticeable religion before, it was suddenly Christmas in the story. It may also be that as a member of a non-Christian religion in a predominantly Christian country I am already sick of seeing Christmas decorations - it is only mid-November. Any thoughts on this part of the book would be welcome.

Wrede, Patricia C. (2009). Thirteenth Child. New York: Scholastic Press.

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