This is book two in Wrede’s fantastic series Frontier Magic, a young adult fantasy alternate history of the pioneer West.
Wrede manages to weave her magical additions seamlessly into an already familiar timeline, giving a fantasy boost to the days of the pioneers and tales of the West.
My favorite part of this story is the world itself. I’ve never read alternate history before, and lately I’ve been examining how authors manage their world-building. Wrede pays close attention to detail and this frontier she has created is complex and mind boggling, taking all the hardships and discord of the time period and exploiting them with different magical hurdles and divisions.
The writing is captivating, told in the first person from the main character Eff’s point of view, sharp-minded and pioneer to the core. I have particular praise for the writing style, not only because it embodies the spirit of the pioneers and young America (or its alternate version in this tale called Columbia, as the case may be) but because it’s entertaining. Due to the fact it’s told in first person, there is a good deal more narrative than dialogue. Now, I’m prone more to dialogue myself, because it moves the pace, and is full of personality. But I rarely found myself bogged down in Eff’s narrative!
I believe Wrede has found the key to continuously engaging narrative, and that is to remember to make every word ring true for your character’s point of view and to shy away from the boring parts. Wrede’s not afraid to zip through weeks or months in just a few paragraphs merely pointing out the interesting bits as she goes by. Sort of like William Goldman’s ‘The Good Parts Version’ of Princess Bride.
Rating: ‘Across the Great Barrier’ is an excellent sequel, providing an interesting and engaging story while delving deeper into Eff’s character and exploring father into this incredible world. I give this book 5 stars and I can’t wait to read the next one.
Author’s Website: http://pcwrede.com/index.html