Eff, now a young woman, has overcome her fear that she is fatally unlucky; now it's time for her to figure out who she's going to be (Thirteenth Child, 2009).
Her staggeringly talented twin brother is off to college back east, but Eff, despite her newly discovered magical potential, is disinclined to follow. She begins working at the local land-grant college’s menagerie of creatures, both magical and ordinary, from the other side of the Great Barrier Spell. Her intelligence and expertise with animals make her an ideal assistant for an expedition beyond the Barrier, and off she goes into this dangerous, beckoning territory, observing, thinking and growing ever more confident. The other primary members of the expedition, Professor Torgeson from New Vineland, and Washington Morris, the Aphrikan-Columbian circuit-rider magician, provide sturdy support to both Eff and the narrative. Eff is entirely fresh: She has no Destiny, cannot be summed up as "plucky" and discovers herself and her world slowly and naturally. In conceptualizing her Frontier Magic series, Wrede made the controversial decision not to populate her Columbian continent with indigenous peoples. Readers uncomfortable with this will find no hasty palliative change; readers less sensitive to the issue will find themselves grateful for every minute they spend with the deliberate, observant and loving Eff.Splendid worldbuilding and deliciously complex characterization continue to be the hallmarks of this standout fantasy. (Steampunk. 12-18)