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

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

4.1 41
by Justine Larbalestier
     
 

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For fifteen years, Reason Cansino has lived on the run. Together with her mother, Sarafina, she has moved from one place to another in the Australian countryside, desperate not to be found by Reason’s grandmother Esmeralda, a dangerous woman who believes in magic. But the moment Reason walks through Esmeralda’s back door and finds herselfon a New York

Overview

For fifteen years, Reason Cansino has lived on the run. Together with her mother, Sarafina, she has moved from one place to another in the Australian countryside, desperate not to be found by Reason’s grandmother Esmeralda, a dangerous woman who believes in magic. But the moment Reason walks through Esmeralda’s back door and finds herselfon a New York City street, she’s confronted by an unavoidable truth—magic is real.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this fierce, hypnotic novel, character, story, and the thrumming forces of magic strike a rare, memorable balance. Reason is both the name of its 15-year-old Australian protagonist and a badge of defiance: Reason’s mother champions rationality and deplores witchcraft, especially the “smoke and mirrors” practiced by her own mother, Esmeralda. When Reason’s mom plunges into insanity and Reason must go to stay with Esmeralda, the wary teen, armed only with her survival instincts and a lucky ammonite fossil, attempts to stave off her grandmother’s witchy influences. Then she steps through a door in Esmeralda’s kitchen and emerges in New York City. There, as she grapples with the undeniable evidence that “magic is real,” she is drawn into a terrifying entanglement with a cruel older witch. Reason’s prickly first-person voice alternates with that of Esmeralda’s gentle apprentice, Tom, and Reason’s tough New York friend, the magically gifted Jay-Tee. The teens’ distinct, frequently contradictory narratives intensify readers’ concern for Reason and their desire to understand her circumstances. Readers looking for layered, understated fantasy will follow the looping paths of Larbalestier’s fine writing, as graceful and logical as the coiled chambers of Reason’s ammonite, with gratitude and awe." Booklist, starred review
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595140708
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
03/16/2006
Series:
Magic or Madness Trilogy Series , #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"In this fierce, hypnotic novel, character, story, and the thrumming forces of magic strike a rare, memorable balance. Reason is both the name of its 15-year-old Australian protagonist and a badge of defiance: Reason’s mother champions rationality and deplores witchcraft, especially the “smoke and mirrors” practiced by her own mother, Esmeralda. When Reason’s mom plunges into insanity and Reason must go to stay with Esmeralda, the wary teen, armed only with her survival instincts and a lucky ammonite fossil, attempts to stave off her grandmother’s witchy influences. Then she steps through a door in Esmeralda’s kitchen and emerges in New York City. There, as she grapples with the undeniable evidence that “magic is real,” she is drawn into a terrifying entanglement with a cruel older witch. Reason’s prickly first-person voice alternates with that of Esmeralda’s gentle apprentice, Tom, and Reason’s tough New York friend, the magically gifted Jay-Tee. The teens’ distinct, frequently contradictory narratives intensify readers’ concern for Reason and their desire to understand her circumstances. Readers looking for layered, understated fantasy will follow the looping paths of Larbalestier’s fine writing, as graceful and logical as the coiled chambers of Reason’s ammonite, with gratitude and awe." Booklist, starred review

Meet the Author

Justine Larbalestier lives in Sydney, Australia, andNew York City.

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Magic or Madness (Magic or Madness Trilogy Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Erin_M More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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BookwormKD More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!