Don't Expect Magic

Don't Expect Magic

by Kathy McCullough


$6.84 $8.99 Save 24% Current price is $6.84, Original price is $8.99. You Save 24%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385740135
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 11/13/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.66(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

If KATHY McCULLOUGH had one wish, it would be for world peace—or a continuously self-replenishing bar of chocolate. A graduate of Cornell University, she lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a novelist and screenwriter. This is her first book.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Of course I’m cursed with the most uncomfortable seat on the plane. The cushion’s deflated in this bizarrely lopsided way, like somebody with one butt cheek exponentially bigger than the other sat there before me and crushed it. My overhead light’s burned out and the bald guy in front of me dropped his diet Dr Pepper, splashing sticky soda all over my backpack, which I had wedged under the seat.

It shouldn’t be called Murphy’s Law, it should be called Delaney Collins’s Law, because I’m living it. If something can go wrong, it does, and anything bad just gets worse. I don’t even want to be on this plane. But I have no choice.

For now, anyway.

I turn up the volume on my iPod and scroll to the heavy metal playlist Mom downloaded for me: all of her favorite songs for scrambling the brain and numbing the mind. We used to blast it whenever we were angry or depressed or frustrated with the world—which was a lot toward the end. But tonight my brain cells are staying stubbornly unscrambled and unnumbed.

I stare out at the itch-black night, but the grimy little window just reflects my face back at me. The dim cabin lighting casts weird shadows that make me look like a girl out of a manga book: long black pen strokes for hair, eyes circled in dark ink, face flat and expressionless.

Maybe it’s a true reflection. Maybe everything that’s happened has drained the human part out of me and left just a two-dimensional drawing.

I wish.

I’ve tried sketching. I’ve been working on a new design: thigh-highs with spikes on the backs of the heels, chains around the ankles and slashes up and down the sides like they’ve been hacked at with a switchblade. I call them Shredded Death. The idea’s finished in my head but only halfway done on the page, because my mind keeps getting yanked back to . . .

“I like your boots.”

I turn away from the window. Next to me in the middle seat is a little girl around four years old. She’s in a pink fairy princess outfit, complete with plastic tiara and a magic wand made out of a chopstick with a glitter-covered construction-paper star taped to the end of it. Her overhead light hits her like a spotlight so that she practically shimmers. On her other side, her mother snores softly in the shadows.

I could ignore her. That usually works, but kids and old people can be a problem. There’s something abnormal about them—they can’t take a hint.

What the hell, I think. Maybe having a pointless conversation with a delusional preschooler will provide the distraction I’m desperate for. It’s worth a try. I remove one earbud but keep the other one in, so I’m still getting a regular flow of screeching guitar—an emotional IV.

“Huh?” I say. It’s important to start aloof, in case I have to cut it off abruptly. I don’t want to lead anyone on, make them think I might actually be friendly.

“I like your boots,” the girl says again, and points her lame wand toward my feet. I’m wearing a design I created back in less bleak times. I got the originals from the consignment shop I worked at after school. The boots were too big around the calf, so I slit the leather in the back and then attached brass snaps, with matching ones across the front.

I remember, faintly, the rush of joy I felt painting on the blue and yellow swirls. Mom had wanted me to make her a matching pair. But I never got around to it.


“Do you like my shoes?” The girl swings out her tiny legs, displaying a pair of sparkly pink flip-flops. Hideous.

I shrug.

“They’re magic,” she says.

“Uh-huh.” Time to turn up the frost. This conversation isn’t going anywhere good. I grab the earbud from my lap.

“Can you read my book to me?” The girl holds up the picture book resting on her tray table. She does that sad wide-eyed thing little kids do to get their way. It never works with me. “Pleeease?” She thrusts the book in my face. Annoying.

Even more annoying, I hear myself say, “Sure, whatever.”

I sigh. Stuck.

I open the book to its first cheery page and predict that this is not going to be a story that sweeps me away. Sure enough, it’s one of those sappy girl-lost-in-the-woods, helped-by-the-friendly-talking-animals, magic-spells-broken, evil-ogre-defeated stories. With the traditional but irritating and most dishonest final sentence ever created in the history of literature:

“And she lived happily ever after.”

I do my best to inject sarcasm and disapproval into my voice as I read these last words, because even if I’m not going to get anything out of the experience, at least I’ll have passed on some wisdom to the younger generation. But the girl just smiles the satisfied smile of one who is hearing the same beloved story for the billionth time. Clearly, I’m going to have to spell it out for her.

“It doesn’t really work like that, you know,” I tell her. “Things don’t end happily.”

“Yes, they do.”

I shrug and hand the book back to her. “You’ll learn,” I say. I tried. Someday she’ll look back on this conversation and remember she was warned.

“It wouldn’t be in the book if it wasn’t true,” she says firmly, like she’s teaching me some lesson.

I don’t answer. Some people would rather live in a fairy tale.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Don't Expect Magic 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a really cute book, but the ending was a little rushed. Overall it was awesome!!
flashlight_reader on LibraryThing 5 months ago
At first, I didn't really like this book. I was on page 170 or so and didn't feel any "magic" so to speak of. But then, WHAM! It all made sense. Originally, I was told this book was about something totally different than I what I anticipated. (I can't help but wonder if the book's rep actually read this one or not.) I had built up this image of some hilarious fairy godmother misadventure in my mind, only to be disappointed when I realized this wasn't what the book was about. Yes, there is a f.g. element to the book. And yes, Delaney's shenanigans qualify as misadventures, but there is much more to the story. On a deeper level, this is a very nice story of dysfunctional families and coming to terms with change. Delaney's mom died from a sudden illness, which leaves her with her father (whom she hasn't seen in many years). I think it goes without saying that there was a level of hostility felt by Delaney for a good portion of the book. Then, suddenly, the ice starts melting. I can't say exactly what element makes the melt down begin, but it's a subtle change. When I realized that change was key to the whole book, it made more sense to me. I started appreciating the deeper, larger story. The magic element was tiny and, honestly, could have been left out. I get the idea of a f.g and all, but the major point being made was the kind of stuff you find in self-help books. (Ironically enough, Delaney's dad writes self-help books. Go figure.) As far as characters go, Delaney and Flynn go, they are likable characters. Delaney has major sarcasm issues (and I love it). She was so sarcastic at times that it was hard for me not to laugh at loud. I could totally hear myself speaking her words. Flynn, well he's a nice guy. He's not as dreamy as some of the fellas I've read about, but he's more believable. No super hero strength or Greek god looks. Just an average Joe with a great sense of humor. Loved him. The two seem like complete opposites (did I mention that Delaney is a goth girl?), but the subtle move from I'll-stab-your-eyes-out-if-you-try-to-talk-to-me to I-can-tolerate-you-if-I-have-to to actually becoming friends (or maybe more) was a slow, believable process. I loved the ups and downs that lead them to a "happily ever after" kind of ending. There weren't really any big surprises with the characters. You can see where everything is headed pretty early on, but it's okay. The story is well layered, so I could appreciate it for more than what the surface story was all about. Or, maybe I was reading too much into it? I dunno. If you're looking for a happy go lucky, all out fairy wand and glittery dust kind of story, don't bother with this one. You'll be disappointed. If you want a story about acceptance and surprise love, then you'll enjoy Kathy McCullough's Don't Expect Magic.
ethel55 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Delaney's stuck in California, living with a dad that barely knowsm after the death of her mom. Delaney' even left most of her possessions back East, hoping to move in with her best friend Posh once her dad realizes what a mistake this is. This turned out to be a charming story, about families, secrets, and acceptance.
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
Delaney reluctantly goes to California to move in with her dad after her mom dies. Shortly after moving in she finds out her dad’s secret to success – he’s a fairy godmother. Yes, a fairy godmother. It’s hereditary to the females in the family, but her dad was the exception to the rule. Delaney starts to think that she must be a fairy godmother as well and seeks to try this gift out. Her target – her schoolmates. She thinks she knows who has a wish and wants to make that wish come true. Through this journey she finds that her own wishes need to be granted too. The story started off with Delaney being the bratty teenager who wants what she wants, not what she needs. While her dad hasn’t been around for a lot of her life, she doesn’t know everything – and is reluctant to listen to her dad’s explanations and reasoning’s. She also immediately thinks he’s a liar and doesn’t respect him or anything that he is trying to do for her. After she does some snooping, she’s still not satisfied, gets caught, and then does even more snooping. I didn’t feel for Delaney at all mostly because of her spoiled and distrustful nature, there wasn’t anything to like. She was rude to other students without giving them a fair chance and was bitter about everything. If she didn’t complain about something, it was a rare event. Even those that are super nice to her she had something smart to say about them. She doesn’t listen to her dad on any account, even after he explains to her about being a fairy godmother. Once she starts testing out her own skills, the book becomes fluffier and fluffier. It didn’t have far to go from that point and all of the closure points were as expected from the beginning. It’s a cute, fluffy read, but there is no mystery or surprise to the read. Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Delaney Collins knows that happily ever after is a joke. Things don't end happily and she certainly isn't living in a fairy tale. Not when her mom is dead and she is being forcibly moved across the country to live with her life coach father "Dr. Hank" in California. Some happy ending. Life in California is not what Delaney expected. Everything is bright and shiny. Keeping a low profile at school is impossible when everyone from head cheerleader Cadie to yearbook geek Flynn wants to be her friend. (Until she disabuses them of such notions at least.) And Dr. Hank is keeping a secret about what he really does to help his "clients" in need of life coaching. A really big secret. Turns out Dr. Hank is really a fairy godmother--granter of wishes, inhabitant of fairy tales everywhere. And the fairy godmother condition is hereditary. Meaning Delaney Collins, the girl with the fierce attitude and boots to match is a fairy godmother with wishes of her own to grant. If she can ever get the hang of her powers, that is. As Delaney struggles to help her first client she realizes that sometimes even a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own in Don't Expect Magic (2011) by Kathy McCullough. Don't Expect Magic is McCullough's first novel. This story is really sweet hold the saccharin. Delaney is a no nonsense narrator with great taste in footwear even if it does take her a while to develop her taste for good friends. McCullough's writing is spot-on capturing Delaney's initial surly mood as well as her transformation throughout the story. Though I would have loved more background about fairy godmother-ness, Don't Expect Magic remains a clever reinterpretation of one of the most ubiquitous fairy tale characters of all time. In addition to having a fun setting and premise, this book shines as a story about adapting and moving on--even when it's the last thing you want to do. Part modern fairy tale, part journey Don't Expect Magic is a delightful book for anyone waiting for their happy ending. (And even anyone who already has their happy ending too.) Possible Pairings: Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti, Donorboy by Brendan Halpin, Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
justhannah More than 1 year ago
I purchased this for my teenage daughter. She really enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Life is full of surprises for delaney collins,ok sure you wanna say yeah right my life is worse well your cant blame delaney for her attitude,her moms dead,she has to move in with her dad she barely knows and the most supprising secret shes ever known. delaney a not so happy girl is about to have her world knocked right side up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago