Across the Great Barrier
By Patricia C. Wrede
Scholastic Press, 2011
Across the Great Barrier is the second book in the Frontier Magic series. These books should be read in order, so go read Thirteenth Child before reading this one.
Eff is back in school, and things are slowly settling down from her previous adventures. And things are ... well not boring, quite, but certainly there isn't much exiting going on. She is slowly getting better at her magic, but not so much that she is excited about the prospect of going to university. She maybe-kind-of has a boyfriend, but she is not even starting to think of marriage. And all of her friends are off in other parts of the world, including her twin, Lan.
Thinks pick up pretty quickly, though, when she is invited on an expedition to catalog the wildlife west of the Great Barrier. She is happy to learn that Wash will be leading the expedition, and the new naturalist at the university is quite happy to teach Eff all she could want to know about field methods. They find some unexpected oddities, and it isn't long before they are planning a second expedition, and finding even more disturbing signs of unknown dangers coming from the far west.
This book brings back Lan, Wash, Rennie (briefly), and William (peripherally), and basically continues the story right where we left off in Thirteenth Child. The story continues to read more like a diary than an adventure story (although there is, of course, a lot of adventure), and follows the same sort of development and plotting as the first book. I found it a bit slow to start off with, but it builds nicely and by the middle of the book it was just as satisfying a read as the first book.
If you enjoyed the first book, odds are that you will enjoy this book just as much. If you haven't read the first book, go do that. For general readership, this series is Wrede's best, being a bit more serious than her more famous Dealing With Dragons series.
The next book in the series is The Far West.
AR reading level: 6.2