piratekitten has declared February world-building month.
Every day in February (or most days), I will answer one question about any one of my settings.
The question post is here, please feel free to add more questions!
Ruan seems to be in a different genre from the rest of the family, with scientific chemical/alchemical experimentation and enchanted mechanisms (as well as trapped spirits and whatnot else). What changed? (Or have we just not seen more recent Aunts at that sort of work?)
Ruan was certainly more scientific-minded than many of her relatives, even in the era in which she lived.
Aunts tend to fall into two camps (truly, it’s more nuanced than that, but this is the short version): Those that accept the power, often those just considered a placeholder until a stronger Aunt can come along, and those that stretch the power to its limit.
However, the Aunts do not live in a vacuum, and what they do – and how they do it – is heavily influenced by the rest of their family, especially their mother, their grandmother, their predecessor, and their successors. So an Aunt who lives in a repressive family is either going to end up quiet and unassuming, not pushing the magic far at all, or, like Zenobia, end up pushing everything as far as she can in hopes of finding new limits and then breaking those.
It is likely that, given a little more time, Evangaline is likely to start exploring the limits of the family power, reading into old notes, and learning what others before her have done before.
(As a side note: Ruan had huge impetus, in what her non-Aunt-aunt had left her; she had to figure out what to do with all those ghosts. So far, nothing quite that big has spurred Eva).
Short answer: the scientific urge runs in the family, but in some cases it is far stronger than others.
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