From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-In this third instalment in the series, Eff, who is working with Professor Torgeson and trying to keep the frontier safe from the mortally dangerous medusa lizards, is chosen to go on an expedition to the far West. This carries significant danger not only because of the medusa lizards, which, of course, turn living creatures to stone, but also because of other magical creatures as well. During this trip, Eff develops as a magician and learns to control her magic in new ways. With the same attention to character and setting as the previous entries, the pace in this alternate history/fantasy is measured and deliberate. A slight touch of romance between Eff and a couple of suitors leavens the narrative. There is an interesting mix of 19th-century formality with a relative equality for women, which makes Eff more of a contemporary character, notwithstanding her sense of decorum around men. Despite the numerous historical references-to Lincoln, slavery, and the Civil War-which place the story firmly in the 1800s, Wrede sticks with her curious choice of a frontier empty of indigenous human inhabitants, even south of the U.S. border. Quite apart from any other concerns, this results in a strange flatness in the picture she paints of the frontier, and the emptiness of the land echoes back into the story. Nonetheless, fans of the series will enjoy this novel.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In the Frontier Magic trilogy finale, now-20-year-old Eff Rothmer is working in the college wildlife menagerie in Mill City when she is invited to join a government-directed expedition into uncharted territory in the Far West, along with her professors; twin brother, Lan; friend William; and recently returned menagerie assistant Roger. It’s an exciting but risky and dangerous venture, as they encounter exotic creatures from medusa lizards to rock dragons. However, the almost two-year journey also becomes one of self-discovery as Eff struggles to understand her haunting, cryptic dreams and unique magical abilities, while helping to preserve the Great Barrier Spell, the failing of which could bring potentially perilous consequences. The blend of fantasy-adventure, Wild West and westward-expansion lore, and pioneer life is engaging, as are the diverse characters and settings. Eff is a strong, multifaceted protagonist whose first-person descriptive narration, if occasionally slow-paced and dense, well portrays her dilemmas and experiences in life and love. An enjoyable read that Eff’s followers in particular will welcome. Grades 5-8. --Shelle Rosenfeld