The Thirteenth Child tells the story of Eff Rothmer, a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is a double-seventh child, a position of great magical power and potential. Unfortunately for Eff, the thirteenth child is said to be cursed, hazardous to those around them, and even evil. Eff is terrified that she will one day "go bad" and hurt those around her, so she tries desperately to control her magic, and possibly even rid herself of it. Eff must learn how to become her own person with her own magic, no matter what others may think.Set in an Old West that mixes the familiar -- buggies and frock coats -- with the fantastic -- steam dragons and spectral bears -- Thirteenth Child manages to be completely true and now. The choices Wrede makes keep the book from being the over the top, cheesy affair it could have been in someone else's hands. She never overdoes anything or tosses in too many fantastic problems or elements. Her fantasy elements are realistic, and she always makes sure that her characters and Eff's development takes precedence. Eff's voice and narration, too, are very enjoyable, with fun little turns of phrase that pop. I rarely say this when I read a good stand-alone, because I respect an author that doesn't milk it by turning it into a series (and often thinning it out as a result), but I really hope there's more to come.