Thirteenth Child

By: Patricia C. Wrede


Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he’s supposed to possess amazing talent — and she’s supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.


Francine, more commonly known as Eff, is the twin of Lan, a double seven – the seventh son of a seventh son, and therefore an immensely powerful magician, of whom many great deeds and undertakings are expected. While Eff is the twin of a powerful brother, she also happens to be a thirteenth child, and therefore a curse and magical blight on all those around her, or so superstition says. Ever since her birth, Eff has had to deal with a large, extended family that reviles her and sees her as evil, while in the next breath, those same aunts, uncles and cousins praise Lan to the high heavens. Not that Eff is jealous of her twin, but it does make her a serious, introverted, and terrified little girl. When her Uncle tries to have Eff arrested – at the ripe age of four – her parents finally have had enough, and decide to move Eff, Lan, and the rest of their children away from the poisonous attitude of their relatives.

Eff and her family soon discover that life out west is different than life in the city. There’s the threat of dangerous creatures, like steam dragons and carnivorous grubs, that could break through magical wards. There’s also a different sort of people attracted to the wild frontier, from magicians of other schools of thought, to rationalists that shun magic altogether. As Eff grows up, she struggles with the knowledge and deep-seated fear of her (supposedly) inevitable evil as a thirteenth child, as she does with her relationship with her family. Though Eff tries to suppress her magical abilities, it is clear that she is not without her own magical strength, and when the time comes for her to use her power, she must find a way to let go of her fear, and become the magician she is capable of becoming.


"i plunged in and couldn't put it down until i find it's a fascinating adventure in an America where an 'unlucky' thirteenth child finds her own magic on a frontier where the dragons and the mammoths play"
- Tamora Pierce