The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede
It’s fairly inoffensive, as these things go. At least she’s dressed for pioneer camping in the cold, and not in some evening gown.
When the government forms an expedition to map the Far West, Eff has the opportunity to travel farther than anyone in the world. With twin Lan, William, Professor Torgeson, Wash, and Professor Ochiba, she finds that nothing on the wild frontier is as they expected. There are strange findings in their research, a long prairie winter spent in too-close quarters, and more new species, magical and otherwise, dangerous and benign, than they ever expected to find.
When spring comes, the explorers realize how tenuous life near the Great Barrier Spell must stop a magical flood in a hurry. Eff’s unique way of viewing magic has saved the settlers time and again, now all of Columbia is at risk.
This is actually the last volume of a trilogy.
It’s a slower read than many newly published books, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s still got that Wrede magic and charm.
I love fantasy authors who come up with their own theories of magic. The Avrupan, Aphrikan, and Hijero-Cathayan types of magic are all different and distinct methods.
Pioneer Spirit! In many ways, this series is a celebration of the pioneer spirit that founded (an alternate) America. Mostly it celebrates the good parts of that spirit, but sometimes the bad aspects are also acknowledged.
Coming-of-Age. It can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how the author writes it. This is a good one. Instead of an epic fantasy, Wrede has written a fantasy bildungsroman.
I love Patricia Wrede–and not just because she’s a Minnesota native! She takes fantasies, and gives them a twist, nowhere more obvious than in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, but also on display in this trilogy. Her strong female characters and inventive worldbuilding never disappoint.
Borrowed, because I am poor and live in a small apartment.