Monday, September 24, 2007

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier

Imagine living all of your life on the run with your mother. Never staying very long in any one location for fear that you might be found. Who are you running from? Your grandmother who says she is a witch.

This is what life is like for Reason. She and her mother Sarafina have spent their lives on the run from her grandmother Esmeralda. Sarafina has always told Reason that magic isn’t real and that Esmeralda is evil. But when Sarafina goes insane and is committed to a hospital, Reason is taken to Esmeralda’s house. Reason is afraid of everything in the house -- afraid of what her grandmother might have sacrificed in horrible rituals. Reason decides she is going to run away but when she leaves out of the back door, she is no longer in Sydney, Australia but in New York City. Magic is real and Reason is now on her own in a strange city and clueless about what to do next.

Reason is rescued by a girl named Jay-Tee, also magical who lives in an apartment owned by a man who loves to take magic from others in order to live longer. Reason knows that he is evil, but the confusing thing is, who isn’t? In this story in which most people aren’t obviously good or evil, Reason must try to figure out how to survive. Denying magic means that she will eventually go insane like her mother, but heavily using magic ensures an early death. Either way, her choices aren’t great.

I really wanted to like this book. I read Justine Larbalestier’s blog, and when I picked up the book from my school library, I was sure it would be a home run. I didn’t dislike Magic or Madness, but I didn’t love it either. I’m hoping to like it more after I read the next book in the series.

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