Patricia C. Wrede is the universally acclaimed author of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles series, including Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons, as well as other novels, including Mairelon the Magician, The Magician's Ward, and, with Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour, and The Mislaid Magician. She lives in Minnesota.
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.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gr 7-9-In this alternative history, a magical barrier protects most people from the dangerous magical creatures of the Wild West. Eff is a 13th unlucky child who supposedly will cause doom and misfortune, and is twin sister to Lan, the lucky and extra-magical 7th son of a 7th son. This novel covers a lot of ground both in time, following Eff from when she's 5 until she's 18, and in distance, as Eff's family moves to the Western frontier when Eff's magic-professor father and practical mother decide that the move will hide Eff and Lan's differences. Then Lan's potential is revealed after he causes an annoying classmate to float. When he leaves to go to school back East, Eff follows her own path to learning more about magic, including assisting in caring for the magical creatures at her father's college. Her narration provides background about life in this version of early America, where magic helps with daily chores but brings its own dangers. Eff's life in Lan's shadow will ring true to all siblings of a particularly talented child, but at the conclusion it's Eff who uses her own magic to rescue her twin. Reminiscent of Orson Scott Card's "Alvin Maker" books (Tor), this is an interesting, but often slow-moving tale.-Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.