Magic or Madness (Magic or Madness Trilogy Series #1)

( 41 )

Overview

From the Sydney, Australia home of a grandmother she believes is a witch, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino is magically transported to New York City, where she discovers that friends and foes can be hard to distinguish.

From the Sydney, Australia home of a grandmother she believes is a witch, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino is magically transported to New York City, where she discovers that friends and foes can be hard to ...

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Magic or Madness

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Overview

From the Sydney, Australia home of a grandmother she believes is a witch, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino is magically transported to New York City, where she discovers that friends and foes can be hard to distinguish.

From the Sydney, Australia home of a grandmother she believes is a witch, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino is magically transported to New York City, where she discovers that friends and foes can be hard to distinguish.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Fifteen-year-old Reason's life has been spent wandering the Australian outback with her mother, Sarafina, hiding from her grandmother, Esmeralda (Mere). Sarafina told her about Mere's evil witchcraft and taught Reason how to protect herself. Now with Sarafina in a mental hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown, Reason must live with Mere. As she explores Mere's house, she becomes confused when neither the house nor Mere are as dark and sinister as she imagined. In a locked drawer, Reason discovers a key to a door which, when opened, transports her across the world to Manhattan where she is befriended by Jay-Tee, a teenager under the evil Jason Blake's control. Jay-Tee and Reason are torn between escaping from Blake and avoiding Mere who has come searching for Reason. The story culminates in a battle of magic between Blake and Mere and with Reason learning why her female ancestors rarely lived beyond age thirty and why Sarafina had her breakdown. Individual chapters are narrated by different characters, which is not always readily apparent. The book's tone interestingly changes between less threatening Australia and dangerous Manhattan where the hidden identity and power of Blake adds some suspense. A glossary helps readers understand Reason's colorful Australian vernacular. Actual magic takes a backseat until the end when the title's meaning is also revealed. Not another wizard-type book, this story is of a teenager's confusion. The book, geared to readers ages twelve through fifteen, is worthwhile for middle school and public libraries. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined asgrades 7 to 9). 2005, Razorbill/Penguin, 288p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Ed Goldberg
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Australian author Larbalestier has wrought beautiful and fearsome magic in this novel, the first in a proposed trilogy. Reason Cansino has spent her life with her unusual mother in the bush, moving frequently, keeping to herself, and learning how to guard against her bizarre grandmother, Esmeralda. When her mother goes insane and 15-year-old Reason is sent to live with Esmeralda, she starts to question all the stories her mother has told her. Is Mere practicing magic, which Reason's mother insisted was not real? Why have nearly all her ancestors died young? When Reason digs up a dead cat in the cellar and finds the key to a locked (magic) door, she escapes her increasingly frightening grandmother only to find herself halfway around the world in New York City, weak, in danger, and befriended by the mysterious Jay-Tee. Authentic teen voices from two continents reveal the fast-paced events and the conflicts faced by youth when powerful (and predatory) adults seek to take advantage of their ignorance. Readers will especially identify with Reason as she struggles to accept her identity and establish autonomy. Larbalestier's sense of place and refreshing exploration of magic as a force for both good and evil make this novel unusual. By turns a fantasy adventure and a thoughtful examination of relationships, this radiant gem stands alone, but expect readers to be impatient for the rest of the trilogy.-Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595140708
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/16/2006
  • Series: Magic or Madness Trilogy Series , #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 958,488
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Justine Larbalestier lives in Sydney, Australia, and New York City.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    Great book, great author.

    I do not like books that are scary, not possible, or dangerous, but some how this one caught my eye. I really enjoyed reading it and would reccomend this book to many teens and pre-teens like myself.
    Hannah - an almost seventh grader in Wisconsin.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Bathroom

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    READ IT

    All three of the books in this serise are amazing. For teens espesially. It has drama, confusion, love, magic, danger, and a awesomly cool way of discribing things! Read it or uare missing out!!

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Good Book!!

    I liked this book, it was a very quick read, a couple of the Australian words i didn't understand but, thankfully, they have a glossary of words in the back of the book. I like the idea of how Magic is portrayed in this book (unlike any of the other modern magic and fantasy books out there) I would Highly recommend!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2009

    Strong, Exciting series

    Clear, powerful characters, great plotting and concise writing with a clear, funny voice keeps this series flowing well through all three books. Unexpected (and impossible to guess)story twists bring a freshness to what is sometimes a worn fantasy/magic genre. Simply lovely.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    It was... ok

    To me, Magic or Madness by justine larbalestier, was a great idea for a story that didn't live up to its full potential. the story felt rushed. i think that it took two much time describing the setting and not enough time was spent on the actual emotions of the characters, or even just the emotions of reason. i don't dought that justine larbalestier is a fabulous author because i read how to ditch your fairy and i LOVED it. but this book wasn't her best work. it actually kind of reminded me of scott westerfeld's uglies trilogy and i didn't like that very much but if you liked that then you will like this. however, i didn't absolutaly hate this book, it definently had its moments, for example i liked jay-tee and her character didn't feel rushed, and there were parts that stood out and i was like "wow". overall this book was ok but if your looking for something about magic that is better, i recommend bras and broomsticks, wings, and my fair godmother, and if your looking for something where the quality of writing matched this one, then i recommend so you want to be a wizard and uglies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2009

    Loved It!

    Great story line, beautiful writing, great thriller, really easy to realate to. I like the fact that in most stories, magic is just an easy fix without consiquences, but here, if you use to much, you could die young, don't use it and you're destined for madness. Great gripping story, the kind that feels like the cover is glued to your hand, crushing any chance of putting it down. Can't wait to read the next in the series!

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for TeensReadToo.com

    Reason Cansino has always been taught to fear her grandmother, Esmeralda. Reason's mother, Sarafina, has taken them all over Australia, mostly to remote Aboriginal settlements. Reason has only been to a real school once, but Sarafina has taught her lots of things, mostly math and some science. <BR/><BR/>Reason has been happy with her life, but when Sarafina goes crazy--really crazy, as in trying to kill herself instead of her usual craziness consisting of things like making them walk in straight lines for days--all of that comes to an end. Reason is sent to live with Esmeralda in Sydney. She's expecting the dark, scary house of her mother's stories. The one where Sarafina's cat was murdered. The house where dark magic takes place--imaginary magic, of course, as Sarafina has always said that magic isn't real. It's too illogical. <BR/><BR/>What Reason finds, however, is a spacious, light house, not at all witchy. There are no animal sacrifices in the living room, no bubbling cauldrons in the kitchen. That can't undo the belief that years of Sarafina's stories have created, though. Reason is sure that something is going on underneath the surface, and she's got to run away and get out of Sydney as soon as possible. She's got to rescue Sarafina from the loony bin where she's been locked up. <BR/><BR/>Sydney's not all bad, though. Reason meets Esmeralda's neighbor, a boy about her age named Tom. She'll be sorry to leave him behind, but it looks like he's working with Esmeralda, and she's got to get away from the witch. <BR/><BR/>Reason's escape from Sydney doesn't exactly go as planned. Instead of escaping with her mother and all of her supplies, Reason finds herself on a winter street in New York City, barefoot and with nothing, after stepping through Esmeralda's back door. <BR/><BR/>She doesn't know how she ended up there, but she's grateful to Jay-Tee, the teenage girl who rescued her from the freezing, alien streets. She thinks that Jay-Tee is just a friendly passerby...But could there be more to it than that? What is going on? How did Reason step through a door from Sydney to New York? That's just not possible. What secrets are being hidden from her? <BR/><BR/>MAGIC OR MADNESS is a wonderful novel from Justine Larbalestier, who's married to one of my favorite authors of all time, Scott Westerfeld. It's a fascinating story, and the way it's told is a little unconventional: some chapters are told in a first person point of view, in Reason's voice, and others are told in a third person limited point of view, from inside either Jay-Tee's or Tom's mind. These three different points of view could be confusing, but Justine Larbalestier pulls it off wonderfully. <BR/><BR/>The story itself is quite a page-turner. I read this book when it first came out, and reread it after getting my own copy in paperback, and I loved it both times. The characters are all wonderfully realistic and interesting. Each answer Reason finds only leads to more questions, keeping suspense throughout the story. The writing is fantastic, and I'm really looking forward to the third book in the trilogy, MAGIC'S CHILD, coming in 2007!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2008

    someone who USUALLY HATES BOOKS

    This book is a great book i recommend it to everyone i showed it to some of my friends and they asked to borrow it.It tells about a girl named Reason and how her mother is insane because she doesn't use her magic. Reason was taught that her grandmother is evil but later finds out that she's not. She gains friends on the way and learns about her family. i love this book and thats saying something because i usually hate books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Magic or Madness: Poor All Around

    I have to say, I was sorely disappointed by this book, and in fact the entire series, coming from such a popular fantasy publisher 'Firebird'. Magic or Madness is a book about magic, rather obviously. The biggest problem with the entire series is the magic system. Though the plot hangs in the balance, without spoiling anything, let's just say that the system creates an atmosphere of despair, and splits away from the traditional fantasy take on magic. While innovation isn't to be stifled, this particular title's system detracts from the value of the entire piece as a whole. Additionally, I personally find the characters underdeveloped. I feel unattached from events happening to even the main protagonist. The book attempts to create dramatic irony in the process of routinely switching narrators, but in general fails to have much effect in actually developing suspense. The list could extend on for quite awhile, but these points should suffice. There's really no good reason to waste your money or your time reading the lackluster Magic or Madness series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2008

    Magic or Madness

    This is by far the worst book I have ever read! It changes narrators too often and is extremely hard to follow! I definatly do not recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    Reason Cansino has always been taught to fear her grandmother, Esmeralda. Reason¿s mother, Sarafina, has taken them all over Australia, mostly to remote Aboriginal settlements. Reason has only been to a real school once, but Sarafina has taught her lots of things, mostly math and some science. Reason has been happy with her life, but when Sarafina goes crazy--really crazy, as in trying to kill herself instead of her usual craziness consisting of things like making them walk in straight lines for days--all of that comes to an end. Reason is sent to live with Esmeralda in Sydney. She¿s expecting the dark, scary house of her mother¿s stories. The one where Sarafina¿s cat was murdered. The house where dark magic takes place--imaginary magic, of course, as Sarafina has always said that magic isn¿t real. It¿s too illogical. What Reason finds, however, is a spacious, light house, not at all witchy. There are no animal sacrifices in the living room, no bubbling cauldrons in the kitchen. That can¿t undo the belief that years of Sarafina¿s stories have created, though. Reason is sure that something is going on underneath the surface, and she¿s got to run away and get out of Sydney as soon as possible. She¿s got to rescue Sarafina from the loony bin where she¿s been locked up. Sydney¿s not all bad, though. Reason meets Esmeralda¿s neighbor, a boy about her age named Tom. She¿ll be sorry to leave him behind, but it looks like he¿s working with Esmeralda, and she¿s got to get away from the witch. Reason¿s escape from Sydney doesn¿t exactly go as planned. Instead of escaping with her mother and all of her supplies, Reason finds herself on a winter street in New York City, barefoot and with nothing, after stepping through Esmeralda¿s back door. She doesn¿t know how she ended up there, but she¿s grateful to Jay-Tee, the teenage girl who rescued her from the freezing, alien streets. She thinks that Jay-Tee is just a friendly passerby¿But could there be more to it than that? What is going on? How did Reason step through a door from Sydney to New York? That¿s just not possible. What secrets are being hidden from her? MAGIC OR MADNESS is a wonderful novel from Justine Larbalestier, who¿s married to one of my favorite authors of all time, Scott Westerfeld. It¿s a fascinating story, and the way it¿s told is a little unconventional: some chapters are told in a first person point of view, in Reason¿s voice, and others are told in a third person limited point of view, from inside either Jay- Tee¿s or Tom¿s mind. These three different points of view could be confusing, but Justine Larbalestier pulls it off wonderfully. The story itself is quite a page-turner. I read this book when it first came out, and reread it after getting my own copy in paperback, and I loved it both times. The characters are all wonderfully realistic and interesting. Each answer Reason finds only leads to more questions, keeping suspense throughout the story. The writing is fantastic, and I¿m really looking forward to the third book in the trilogy, MAGIC¿S CHILD, coming in 2007! **Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2007

    A reviewer

    Have you ever been in a situation where you¿ve have to run away? Magic or Madness is about a 15 year old girl named Reason Cansino. Reason¿s whole life her mother Sarafina and Reason have been on the run from Esmeralda, who is Reason¿s grandmother who also believes in magic and practices dark rituals. After Sarafina is sent to a mental institute in Sydney, Australia, Reason is forced to live with Esmeralda. When Sarafina is in the mental hospital Reason digs up information about her family¿s odd past and has many questions about them. Why did all of her ancestors die young? Does her grandmother really practice magic? To find out more about Reason and her adventure you should read Magic or Madness by: Justine Larbelestier. For me Magic or Madness was a great book to read because of how it includes the mystery and adventure which made the book ideal for the types of genres I like to read. What I also loved about Magic or Madness are how the characters are described with so much detail so you can just have the character¿s image in your head. This book never had a dull moment like previous books I¿ve read. Magic or Madness was such a great book, I just simply adored it because of how Reason¿s life just kept turning into this web of mystery about her ancestors and if her family really does use magic. Magic or Madness is a great book for children between the grades of seven to ten. This book is very easy to follow but there are some parts in the book where you don¿t know who is talking or whose point of view the story¿s coming from. Overall this book is simply superb. If you like magic, evil villains, or books with an adventure in it this book is definitely for you. Magic or Madness is the type of book where you can¿t stop reading because you need to know what happens next.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2007

    Wow!

    The books are great. I am 19 years old, I love reading fantasy books like Magic or Madness trilogy. I am about to read the last book, I bet it will not disappoint me at all. Please go out and buy all three books!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2007

    Gotta love it!!!

    I absolutely LOVE this trilogy!!! I've read all 3 books, and I wish there were more. It's an awesome book in modern times, and it is not a dissapointment. I'd recommend it to everyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2006

    you are about to embark on an incredible journey.....

    This book took me on a wild ride with Reason Cansino. It was like a girl version of an australian harry potter. i loved it. Reason had so much character, she seemed real. if you read this book, you will love every minute of it!!!! it kept me turning pages, wondering what will happen next. dont hesitate to read this book!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    A must read

    This is a book about friendship and magic (of course) I would recommend this book to anyone who has a taste for magic books. This book does not only have magic but it has adventure and excitement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2006

    awesome!

    I loved this book! it was very well written and the plot was excellent! Anybody who likes stories that have to do with magic will love this book. I recommend it to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2005

    JUST FINISHED IT!!

    If you havnt read this book u need to like tonight! its that good i cant wait 4 the second one! it took me like one night and then an hour the next day! its that good! i was mad wen i finished though cause i bought it to waste time b4 HARRY POTTER(6!) came out ( didnt last to long o well it was awsome)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2005

    fantastic!!!

    i loved it!! if you haven't read it yet you have to soon! that book is sooooo good and i can't wait till the next book comes out. Keep 'em comming!!!

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