Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Across the Great Barrier

Across the Great Barrier

Patricia C. Wrede
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic , 2011   ISBN: 978-0545033435

Eff has spent most of her life living in the shadow of her twin brother Lan. He is considered special because he is the seventh son of a seventh son. By contrast, many people think that Eff is unlucky because she is the thirteenth child to be born into her family.

After her family moved to Mill City, a frontier town, Eff began to realize that she is not a bad luck charm after all. Now a young woman, Eff rarely thinks of herself as being the thirteenth child, but she cannot quite dispel her uncertainty about using magic. Unlike her gifted brother Lan, Eff’s magical skills leave a lot to be desired. Lan decided long ago that he would study magic, and to that end he went to a boarding school and is now entering a prestigious college to continue his magical studies. Lan encourages his twin sister to follow a similar path, but Eff decides that she does not want to be a magician.

What does she want to do instead though? Eff isn’t sure, but she is happy working at the college menagerie in Mill City for the time being. She has been working with Professor Jeffries at the menagerie on a part time basis for some time, so she might as well try to get a proper job there.

Professor Jeffries is happy to take Eff on as an employee, and she does well working with the animals. Then Professor Torgeson, who is from Vinland, gets the funding she needs to conduct wildlife surveys around the settlements that lie beyond the Great Barrier. The plan is that Washington Morris with be the expedition guide, and Eff is invited to go along to serve as the Professor’s assistant. Eff is delighted to be given this opportunity to explore the wild lands beyond the Great Barrier. There are many dangers out there to be sure, but there are also many new things to learn about and discover.

Though the travelers do encounter a pride of sabre cats and columbian sphinxes, their trip is otherwise quite uneventful. Then they find some strange stone figurines of animals, and Professor Torgeson begins to suspect that the figures are not man made. She thinks that they are real animals that have been turned into stone, but she does not know who or what is responsible.

Picking up where Thirteenth Child left off, this Frontier Magic title is sure to capture the interest of readers who have a fondness for books about magic, spells, and mysteries. Readers who have read Thirteen Child will be intrigued to see how much Eff changes in this book, and how much she learns about herself and about magic.