Frontier Magic

I'm sure you all know by now that I have a soft spot for fantasy settings that feel believable. Like somewhere in the multiverse, this place could exist and I might be able to travel there someday.

A few years ago, I picked up the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, and I loved them so much, I read them again that very same year. The world was vivid, the dialogue was pretty hilarious, and I loved the main character to pieces.

So when I found another book by Ms. Wrede a couple months ago, I picked it up without even a second of hesitation. Thirteenth Child is a story that takes place on the frontier (thus the name of the series - "Frontier Magic") where folk are trying to survive while learning to deal with the wildlife in these untamed lands of Western America - sabercats, mammoths, wooly rhinoceroses, Columbian sphinxes, steam dragons, silverhooves, and swarming weasels, just to name a few.

In short, Ms. Wrede looked at a history book about the settling of the American West, and asked herself, "but what if there was magic?" and ran with it.

There are three books in all, each narrated by the precocious but lovable Francine "Eff" Rothmer. The second and third books, Across the Great Barrier and The Far West proceed in chronological order as the main character gets older and matures enough to deal with larger difficulties.

You might remember that a while back, I reviewed a series called The Memoirs of Lady Trent, in which the titular Lady Trent fights against the biases and social norms of her time to obtain an education and become a Dragon Naturalist, a scientist in her own right, and eventually the most famous naturalist in the world.

This is (basically) the American version of that story.


One of the things I really appreciated about this series is that, though the main character does end up tangled in a romantic subplot later on, it doesn't take over the rest of the story and overpower the unique and gorgeous setting the author has wrought.

So, I'm going to give it

5/5 stars.

Many other reviewers say it's like a blend of Little House on the Prairie and Harry Potter, but I would liken it more to The Memoirs of Lady Trent and The Jungle Book (the first for the historical fantasy elements, and the second for the story of a young person who doesn't know how to fit in).

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