Read for the Once Upon a Time VIII Reading Challenge.
Eff is a twin, and her younger brother is the seventh son of a seventh son, making him a natural born magician with strong powers. Problem is, because of the number of sisters they have, that makes her the thirteenth child, and even some of her extended family believe she’ll curse everyone around her at any moment.
After a particularly bad episode with her father’s oldest brother, Eff’s father announces that the family will be moving out to the frontier, where he’ll be teaching at a brand new college, near the Great Barrier. This is one of those stories that changes the names around so you can basically understand where you are, but it’s meant to be different. Here, we’re dealing with the American West, just after what is meant to be the Civil War, and the family has moved somewhere near what’s meant to be the Mississippi River. The Great Barrier there protects all the lands on the east side of the river from magical creatures like steam dragons, and swarming weasels.
This is the first book in a trilogy, so it’s about Eff growing up. Since several of her older siblings have stayed behind, no one there knows she’s the thirteenth child, so she’s able to start over without that cloud hanging over her. She is also a twin, and having her brother be so powerful means that she should share in some of that power herself.
This is an interesting set up – the book ends with Eff being eighteen, and taking her first adventure across the Great Barrier. If things go up from here, it should be a good series.