I really would have enjoyed this book except for the huge giant elephant in the middle of the room. Eff is an enjoyable narrator, the plot is mostly internal realizations but still good. The actual action of the book is a little too timeline for it to be really enjoyable but as a slice of life type thing it works.
However, the giant elephant. This book is set in an alternate universe United States where the Native Americans didn't exist. And so in order to get that frontier feel, the 'New World' is populated with dangerous creatures, magical and non-magical. In other words, to get the feel of a western (the danger of the frontier is paramount to a western), Wrede replaced the Native Americans with animals. So instead of the clash of two, or more, disparate cultures clashing and warring it is the story of a civilization conquering a dangerous land. And it's the second story that European-Americans have been telling themselves happened in the move West for a long time (i.e. the land was there for the taking because there were no real civilizations to claim it), so this novel feels like a step back as far as dealings with the Native Americans go.
It's this subconscious racism that makes the book so objectionable and drags down the stars I would have given it otherwise.