Seventh Son: Tales of Alvin Maker #1 by Orson Scott CardClassic Alternative History
This book is alternative history, which I usually have trouble with (it hurts my brain) and generally dont' like. That was not the case with this book--because I loved it! What a surprise! I grew to love it and loved it slowly, not all at once. And, this is why I read every book all the way through instead of giving up in the first few chapters. Once I knew the genre, I would have skipped this book.
The setting is in frontier America and there is magic and fantasy and fantastic creatures, but it never comes off as weird. It seemed absolutely right and fitting that frontier America would include this--which is a testament to Card's genius writing skills.
The story is called Alvin #1, but most of it is a prehistory of Alvin's family and how they came to the land where they are. Since Alvin is the seventh son of a seventh son, he is gifted and magical--and targeted by an unseen, unknown force who tries to kill him even before he is born. A young girl with second sight saves his life when he is born. She knows that Alvin and his powers are going to be important and significant. A creature, or spirit, called the 'Unmaker' wants to unmake Alvin and tries repeatedly to cause his accidental death. (I especially loved non-believers' reactions!)
Since most of this focuses on the first five to seven years of Alvin's life, you will definitely have to read more in the series to finish this tale.