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Children's LiteratureIn this second volume of Justine Larbalestier's "Magic or Madness" series, Reason and her friends face a series of challenges as they attempt to negotiate typical teen angst and attraction, complicated with potentially destructive magical powers. Through a magic door, Reason is taken from the relative safety of her grandmother's kitchen into New York City, where she turns to her friend Jay-Tee's brother, Danny. Against a backdrop of magical peril, their friendship turns to romance, which shifts the balance of the relationship with her other friends. The greatest threat comes not from the unknown creatures pursuing Reason, but from within. Her magical powers come at a high price: using them will bring her an early death, but not using them will lead her to insanity. Reason's grandmother Esmeralda, the magical matriarch, continues to either manipulate or help the teenagers—they are not always sure which. Will Reason, Danny, and the others find safety? The novel takes a while to get started, and the ending falls a bit flat, but the characters are lively and well developed. Readers who start with the first installment will likely be more well grounded and enjoy this novel more. 2006, Razorbill/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 14 up.
—Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger