Orson Scott Card’s “Seventh Son” made quite a few waves when it was published, winning awards and praise from the literary SF and Fantasy world. It’s a good novel, too–a couple of good characters, strong and memorable scenes, folk magic scattered across frontier America.
The integration of magic into that early America is brilliantly done. It feels organic and real, magic in every home, at every birth, touching every character. The legends of Americans famous in their time, like Ben Franklin, now include wizardry.
But I think the reason the book made so many waves is that it framed an idea in a way that had never been quite done before. The idea of good against evil, of the battle between light and dark, is of course ancient. But Card framed it in a new way–as “making” against “unmaking,” with two characters, a boy and a reverend, at the center of the struggle. Of course, there’s plenty of problems with that idea, but it nonetheless remains at the core of Western religious thought, and thus its arrival in this young adult novel makes perfect sense. And it’s a good, powerful idea, well told.