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Thirteenth Child

Review

Thirteenth Child

“Everybody knows that a seventh son is lucky. Things come a little easier to him, all his life long…A lot of seventh sons go for magicians, because if there’s one sort of work where luck is more useful than any other, it’s making magic. And everybody knows that the seventh son of a seventh son is a natural-born magician.”

Lan Rothmer just happened to be born the seventh son of a seventh son, and his promising future awaits him, at least according to his large family. While everyone dotes over Lan, they have turned a suspicious eye on his twin sister, Eff, the thirteenth child in the family. If the double-seven son possesses amazing abilities, then the thirteenth child will certainly wreak havoc and destruction on all those around them. As a child, Eff gets blamed for anything that goes wrong: spilling soup, kicking balls astray, and losing hair ribbons. After one intense episode in which five-year-old Eff’s uncle tries to arrest her for being a thirteenth child, Eff’s father decides to move the family away to the North Plains Territory.

The frontier promises a new beginning for Eff, away from constant teasing and ridicule from her extended family --- and danger. The college where her father is a professor of magic is close to the untamed wilderness that swarms with perilous creatures. Only the great barrier spell protects Mill City and all of its inhabitants from dangerous attacks. Plus, Eff is simply waiting until the supposed evil of a thirteenth child takes hold of her and casts everything into ruin. 

Eff, Lan and the entire Rothmer family ease into life in their new surroundings. As the years progress, Lan continually excels in his magical studies while Eff tiptoes carefully around spells and practical magic in order not to hurt anyone. An assortment of individuals weave in and out of the Rothmer home, and new homesteads are created in and around the great barrier spell as more and more settlers try to survive in the new frontier. Eff and her family undergo numerous changes as well --- some good, some bad --- and Eff even experiences times of happiness in a hypothetical cursed existence. She can’t stop holding her breath, however, as she waits for her inevitable doom.

When mysterious grubs and beetles threaten the crops of outlying homesteads, professors from the college, Lan and even Eff are called into action to try to figure out how to stop these magical pests. Out in the wild frontier, Eff comes face to face with her magical ability and her destiny as a thirteenth child in a standoff that leaves nothing the same.  

THIRTEENTH CHILD, the first installment in the Frontier Magic series, is a new and original look at the settlement of the United States. Patricia C. Wrede offers a fresh perspective concerning the origins of magic and how it could have affected the colonization of America. Fantasy readers looking for a great new series to get wrapped up into will appreciate and enjoy Wrede’s cast of characters and all the implications magic holds with them. I’m interested to see how the series will progress and how the foundations of our nation and magic will continue to intertwine. 

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on April 15, 2009

Thirteenth Child
by Patricia C. Wrede

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0545033454
  • ISBN-13: 9780545033459