I'm back in action with a new book review of Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. Before I start gushing about this wonderful book, check out the summary:
Reason Cansino has lived fifteen years in the Australian outback with her mother, Sarafina. They're on the run from Reason's grandmother Esmeralda, who believes in magic and practices horrifying dark rituals. But when Sarafina suffers a mental breakdown, Reason is sent to the one place she fears most-Esmeralda's home in Sydney.
Nothing about the house or Esmeralda is what Reason expected. Then, when she walks through Esmeralda's back door in Sydney and finds herself on a New York City street, Reason is forced to face the shocking truth. Magic is real. And Reason is magic.
Doesn't that sound amazing? I'm here to tell you it is.
I am a huge lover of urban fantasy, and Larbalestier provides a new take on magic as we know and love it. It is realistically built with rules that are followed throughout the book, no plot holes to be found here. This is not Harry Potter with wands and spells, but personalized magic from within that can come at a cost. Without giving too much spoilers (since it's kind of in the title) the women of Reason's family as well as other magic users can either use magic or go mad. This puts our main character in a bit of trouble, since her mother had raised her to fear magic and her grandmother who believes in it. It's a new interesting view on magic.
This story hops between New York and Australia, which is super cool. The book comes with a dictionary for some of the Australian terms which was helpful, so that I didn't have to take time away from the story to go search what it means. The story is told primarily by Reason in first-person but also by her two friends Tom and Jay-Tee. This provides the story in two cultural perspectives, making for an even more interesting read. At first, I thought that this might detract from the story, but it actually worked really well. Out of the three narrators, Reason is my favorite though.
This novel is fast paced and will keep you hooked until you turn that last page and beyond. It is constantly raising questions and giving answers as both Reason (and us) discover this entire world of magic hidden in plain sight. The ending left me satisfied, but with enough questions that I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy.
I would love to go on and on, but I don't want to accidentally spoil the book. I would recommend this to people who don't like fantasy as a good book to try because I think that the magic is realistic, has repercussions, and is fused quite wonderfully to the natural world.
Hope your day is magical!