Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the late 1850s, Eff takes a job as an assistant to the two professors at the college menagerie in Mill City. Her twin brother, Lan, wants her to go to college, but she doesn't think that is the right path for her. Instead, she accompanies Professor Torgeson and their guide Wash Morris on a survey of wildlife west of the Mammoth River, where they make some very interesting discoveries, including stone animal sculptures that are not sculptures at all.
I very much enjoyed book two in this series, although it's definitely leading up to book three, since some major plot threads are left hanging. But I liked watching Eff mature and learn more about her magic and how to use it.
For readers' advisory: story and character doorways, with setting also due to the alternative history aspect
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