Kate's Reviews > Magic or Madness

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
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's review
Aug 09, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: armchair-travels, award-winners, city-reads, epic-odysseys, library-school, ls583, orphans, other-worlds, science-fiction, strong-women, ya-fic
Recommended for: People who don't like fantasy
Read in July, 2007

I’ve never been into books about dragons and fairies and whatnot (I don’t even care for Lord of the Rings), but Larbalestier’s magic is so suffused with real, temporal, relational implications that it was easy to overlook the unicorn-adorned fantasy sticker on the book’s spine. Magic, in this world, does not rely on the wand-and-spell clichés that make Harry Potter so endearing, instead finding inspiration in psychic energy that flows from humans to the natural world and back again.

The heroine, Reason, is a fascinating narrator, her first-person experience allowing the reader to grasp new revelations as they occur; the addition of her friends Tom’s and Jay-Tee’s cross-cultural viewpoints rounds out the perspective on the mysterious happenings in Sydney and New York. I also liked that magic was loosely defined within the world of the novel, following certain rules (e.g., the shocking double-bind at the center of the plot affects all witches) while freely bending others (for example, magic is expressed differently in individuals; Reason’s manifests as a preternatural feel for numbers and math, while Jay-Tee’s is centered in relational connections and crowds and Tom’s in clothing and fabric).

I’m eager to read the rest of the series to see how the questions raised in the first installment resolve, such as the mystery of the black and purple feathers and, most pressingly, whether the quandary of “magic or madness” can be circumvented.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Gerrgle You made some really good points. This is a really good book, and I'm glad that someone else is able to see that it is. Thank you for reviewing. :)

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