Title: Thirteenth Child
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Published: April 15th 2009 by Scholastic Press
Pages: 344 pages
Status: First reading, July 14 to 15, 2012
Genre: Alternative history, frontier fiction
This is in my opinion a hidden gem of a fantasy novel. It does however not fit neatly into any of the subgenres.
The setting is quite strange and the magic system and world building are really interesting.The book is set in an alternative America where the land was never settled before the Europeans came. The reason nobody lived there before is that the land is so wild and dangerous that it is uninhabitable without magic. The book is set on the edge of the protected zone, so right on the edge of the frontier. It is important to this is not set in our world even though that the landmasses are the same. Think parallel universe with magic. The world is full of very dangerous magical creatures, including very terrifying dragons and big woolly mammoths.
I can totally see how the lack of native americans can be seen as very problematic – that however didn’t annoy me personally but I have no horses in that – not having any American roots or family at all.
The first book is very much a story about growing up and coming of age. Our protagonist Eff is the female twin of a seventh son and she herself is a thirteenth child, she is also the youngest, yes that is a huge family.
Family places a huge role in this book and so does accepting and embracing who you are. Friendship is also a big theme throughout both books. This is also a school story where a fantastic teacher is gets Eff to accept herself and gives her the confidence to go on an adventure.
The books reminds me very much of the Laura Ingalls books. There is the same kind of frontier US in the 1800s feel to it.
I strongly recommend it unless the lack of native americans bother you, if it does, you will just get angry and get your weekend ruined. If you can live with the lack of native americans and accept it as a parallel world, then I think you will enjoy the book.