Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

Thirteenth Child

Monday, March 28, 2016

Thirteenth Child (2009) Patricia C. Wrede

Thirteenth-ChildEff’s twin brother Lan is a seventh son of a seventh son, and a natural magician.

“Wow,” Dick said, looking after Papa and Lan. He looked back at me. “Does that mean you’re a natural, too? Because you’re his twin?”

I stared at him. “I don’t know,” I said after a minute. “Nobody’s ever said.”

“Maybe they don’t know,” Dick said, looking back toward the dwindling crowd. “They like to pretend they know everything there is to know about magic, but they don’t really, or why would they always be talking about research?”

But Eff is a thirteenth child, and for the first several years of her life was not just picked on by her cousins, but told by some of her aunts and uncles that she should have been drowned at birth (hence, the attitude of some of her cousins), but things change for her when the family moves out West, just to the east of the Great Barrier, at the edge of civilized lands, beyond which are wild and dangerous creatures, both magical and mundane.

“I heard there are great beasts, the size of a house, that can stamp you flat as paper!” Cousin Bernie said.

“Those are mammoths,” Robbie told him. He’d been doing extra reading on the North Plains ever since he found out we’d be living there, and he enjoyed showing off his new knowledge to the rest of us. “They used to be all over North Columbia, but when the first settlers came from the Old Continent, they killed all the ones in the East.

This is an alternate history, set just after the end of the Succession War (Civil War). Civilization has stretched west across North Columbia (north America) to the Mammoth (Mississippi) river, where the Great Barrier spell, created by Franklin and Jefferson, keeps the most dangerous magical creatures from crossing east (and the river itself keeps the non-magical creatures out).

There was slavery prior to the Succession War, but there are no Native Americans. Apparently some people have complained about this, but considering how danger Columbia is, it seems likely that humans would have had a difficult time surviving without strong magics. Considering how much world building there is, I think this was a reasonable choice to make.

And the world building is marvelous. Everything is based upon our world, but without a grounding in history, you might not recognize all the parallels at first.

Of course, for kids, even though there is magic, some things never change.

“Time and practice, time and practice,” Alexei grumbled. “Isn’t there anything magical we can just do?”

“Sure,” Kristen said. “You can mess up.”

(W)hen things did go wrong it could be pretty spectacular. Once when a spell went wrong, it punched a hole the shape of a duck in every pane of glass in every west-facing window in every building for three blocks around the magic lab, in spite of all the shields and mufflers they had up.

I really love this book, and this series.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Scholastic Paperbacks

Categories: 9/10, Alternate History, Fantasy, Female, Re-Read, Young Adult     Comments (0)    

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