These two books are the sequels to Patrica Wrede’s The Thirteenth Child. Each is well written and largely self-contained. There’s continuity, but most of the threads wrap up at the end of each book.
These two books cover much shorter spans–not a whole childhood, only a year or two per book. In each, Eff grows, changes, and understands something new. She’s a great character, and it’s a pleasure watching her come to maturity. The west proves fascinating to explore alongside Eff and her friends.
Set in an alternate mid-1800s, magic makes settling the frontier easier for the settlers… and much trickier, as there’s magical wildlife too.
The book is a fun combination of frontier era struggles, mores, and chores, with a magical twist. Magic proves a great way of making the unknown of the frontier powerful and dangerous feeling again. The introduction of “alternate” or subversive schools of magic was well handled–as was the was neglect that many of the characters who were skilled in (Eureopean style) magic felt towards the “lesser” schools of magic.
Our protagonist, Eff, is very well drawn. She has a realistic and nuanced set of relationships with a wide variety of people in each of the settlements and towns of the book. As soon as I finished it, I looked up the sequels and recommended it to Jennifer.
The book also ends on a solid, quite complete note–while it’s part of a trilogy, the book stands alone.