Eff, is the thirteenth child of a seventh son, and twin to a double seven. Where she lives, a magica,l frontier version of America, this is considered to be very unlucky. Not just unlucky - according to her backward aunts and uncles it means that she will turn out bad, very bad. Her parents don't set much store by this, and after one of her uncles takes it too far when she is only five, her dad takes a magical professorship right on the edge of the frontier. Folks in Mill City don't care nearly so much about her birth order, though it takes Eff a long time to figure this out, and even longer to let go of her own fear. When she does though, it's 'magical.'
Wrede has done a great job with an interesting twist on one of my favorite dramas. Most fantasy authors use a more medieval base, sword and sorcery, or they go the modern, urban route. I have never before read anything based in an between, expanding into the Wild Unknown. It was a breath of fresh air in a genre that can easily get stale.
Not only did Wrede come up with a new idea, she pulled it off. She had me hooked from the beginning. In addition to that she had great characters. Eff was such a sweet, scared little girl and I really sympathized with her. While I didn't have to deal with her unlucky birth order, in many ways she reminded me of myself growing up. The other characters were just as well done.
While the book came to a definite conclusion, with no loose ends left dangling, I can't help but hope that Wrede will return to both Eff and Columbia (as America is known). I want to see what's in store for Eff's future now that she no longer let's her fears control her. I want to learn more about the fascinating magic systems that Wrede has created. I want to return to Columbia and explore the wilderness with Eff, Wash, William, and all the other delightful characters that populate this world. Bravo Ms. Wrede, you have a new fan.