This book was so unexpectedly cool! And believe me, I mean that in the best of ways possible. I expected a typical "magic" book, with spells, magicians, etc, which is definitely a large part of the plot, but the Patricia C. Wrede included a really cool dynamic with the time period being placed during Western expansion in the U.S. and a frontier lifestyle. A very interesting mix that really worked.
"Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he's supposed to possess amazing talent-and she's supposed to bring doom to everyone around her. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that protects settlers from the beasts of the wilderness.
Eff and Lan do not know what awaits them in such an unknown place. There are steam dragons that hover in the sk, and strange creatures that could undermine the homesteaders' very existence. Eff is allowed ot leave magic with the other students-but there's always the threat of it going horribly wrong. As a thirteenth child, Eff always feels one short step away from complete ruin.
As Eff and Lan grow older, they face challenges they never could have dreamed of. And then their magic is put to the test in a standoff that will alter their live forever."
I can definitely see a family reading this out loud together before bedtime each night. Nothing is too scary for little ears and the flow of the plot give a nice, homey feel. A comforting feeling. Is that strange?
There isn't anything overly exciting in any of the "action" scenes, but sometimes we need a book that isn't all thrills and chills. We so rarely just get a story anymore that has almost an old-fashioned vibe to it. Like a modern Little House on the Prairie. With dragons and magicians.
I did feel the book was long, probably too long for the upper-elementary age group it seems to target. 50-100 pages could be taken out and I would be ok with that. Some of the back stories on family members could easily be eliminated without harming the true plot of the book.
Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy :)
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Patricia C. Wrede