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

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

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 City street, she’s confronted by an unavoidable truth—magic is real.

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

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

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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

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Magic or Madness (Magic or Madness Trilogy Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
callista83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a YA book but I was completely enthralled. I like all books that have to do with magic or witches but this book takes the cake.

I don't usually do a synopsis but here's a short one: Reason and her mother Sarafina are on the run from Reason's grandmother Esmerelda. However, when Sarafina goes crazy, Reason is placed with her grandmother. Nothing about Esmerelda's home in Syndey, Australia is what she expected and when she walks through the back door and ends up in New York City, she has to face the facts. Magic is real.

This book takes place in Australia AND the US and when Reason, who has never been outside of Australia before, ends up in the US, you can just imagine how strange it must be for her. She goes from summer to winter, day time to night time, Tuesday to Monday. The New Yorkers speak English but it's a different English and often she finds herself asking what something means or explaining what she is saying. I found this part of the book extremely interesting. It was neat to think about what a foreigner would think of North America. It reminded me of when my Floridian cousin first saw snow.

I am beyond happy to see that this in but book one in the trilogy! I am off to find book 2 as I can't wait to know what happens next.
kenck4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason is no ordinary child. She has been on the move with her mother her whole life until her mother has a nervous(?) breakdown. Now her grandmother, who she always been told to beware of is now her guardian. When Reason goes through a door in her grandmothers house and goes from austalia to Grenwich village in NYC, she starts to learn the truth about herself and her family.the hyper pace of this first volume in a trilogy is continued in the next two books and the anticipation to follow up each book mirrors the frantic pace of Reason's story.
mikkireads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Premature death or madness. One of these fates awaits fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino. Reason's mother, Sarafina, has gone mad from not using magic, while her grandmother, Esmerelda, a "witch," has so far cheated death by living into her mid-forties. Can Reason save her mother? Her friends Jay-Tee and Tom? Herself? Can she trust Esmerelda? In the first of three novels, Larbalestier introduces a world of magic where to use the power is as suicidal as not to use it, promising many moral and philosophical dilemmas to come. However, this novel gets bogged down at times in establishing Reason's disorientation in New York City and Jay-Tee's confusion over Reason's Australian vocabulary. Danny's character as well seems added in here because he will be important later. Still, a strong fantasy that promises a stronger sequel. (Gr. 7 & up)
mhg123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.Book 1 Magic or Madness Trilogy
dmorrison on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved it!! Read it in one day, couldn't put it down. Excited to read the next two books in this trilogy! Something different. I love the "magic" side of the book, and trying to figure out what the main characters magic was!! Great quick read.
stephmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Magic or Madness begins the story of Reason, named so that her mother could deny the existence of magic to her very core. Fifteen years later, Reason's mother has been confined to a mental hospital in Sydney and Reason has found herself living with her grandmother - the source of many horrific stories from her mother.And she's found out magic is very real.This book spends a great deal of time setting up characters for the rest of the series. The story is not terribly substantial, but I found myself interested in knowing more about what would happen to Reason and Jay-Tee to reserve the second book in the series.
Nafiza on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are lots of books out there that deal with magic and madness and sometimes both of them together. What makes Larbalestier¿s book so different are her characters. When I first started reading the book and ¿met¿ Reason for the first time, I thought her as very young and very naive. In fact, there was this sense of detachment when I looked at the world through her eyes. While the older me knew that much of what her mother had told her about her grandmother might have been untrue, I could not help but be swayed from this belief by the strength of Reason¿s determination to believe in her mother. There¿s Tom, who is so unlike all the heroes I¿ve come across that I might have read the book for him alone. He thinks in fashion ¿ his magic is fashion. Jay-Tee, whose better nature leads her to help Reason even though doing so would get her nothing but grief. And the creepiest villain so far ¿ Mr. Blake. This is the first book so you don¿t get much of a sense of the adults ¿ Sarafina, Mere and Mr. Blake have been hued (deliberately) vaguely so the reader gets a sense of the person but not the person wholly. What I found most fascinating about this story is Reason herself. For instance, I am never quite sure how old she is. The sense I got initially was around twelve but she fibs that she¿s fifteen and somehow the subject of age is never broached again. She doesn¿t react in the typical ways ¿ anger, fear ¿ emotions for her are not solid colours but prismatic. JT thinks Reason is naive when she is anything but. She¿s like an onion that you can peel to find continuous layers of ¿ discover something different about. And the story ¿ the promised thrill of magic is blanketed by the sobering fact that using magic has dire consequences just as not using it does. In fact, the entire story presents a morally gray area, letting the reader decide how to feel about whom without guiding them. And I appreciate the liberty to do. With Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier presents readers with a tale that allows them to feel the extremes of heat and cold, to both fear and cheer for the protagonists. She allows the reader to experience characters that are imbued with details and a rich complexity that lingers long after the last page has been turned.
Sorrel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason (what a brilliant name!) comes from a family with magic in its genes and finds herself faced with a choice of embracing it and dying young, or ignoring it and going mad. I wanted to like this book, as its premise was original and interesting, and on the whole I did. Unfortunately, there were a number of niggling irritants.The narrator makes laboured, self-conscious use of Australian slang, and the editing decision to switch between Australian and US spelling and grammar was a strange gimmick. Plot wise, I found Reason to be tiresome at times; and more paranoid than her information warranted (even when she did turn out to be right, she really didn¿t have enough information to justify being worried). On the other hand, this book set up a consistent and intriguing account of magic use and consequences, and skillfully established a palpably sinister ambiance.
navelos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable start to a new series. I liked the setting and Reason's character. The book clearly leads right into the next one though, so I don't think I can review it without reading the whole series.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason has lived a transient life with her mother, moving from town to town in the outback of Australia. All her life she and her mother have fled her grandmother, a woman who is evil, who believes that she can cast spells, who believes she is a witch. But Reason knows better, because her mother has taught her that magic is not real; there is no magic; her grandmother is not really a witch.However, things change when her mother goes insane and Reason is sent to live with her grandmother in Sydney. Reason begins to question the things her mother taught her, especially when she steps through a door and finds herself suddenly in New York, and she is hit with the reality that magic is, in fact, real.This book is wonderfully complex with no clear lines of what it means to be good or evil. The rules of magic are clear and precise and deadly, creating an already complicated world of traps and snares for the characters to maneuver through as they try to figure out who to trust and how to survive. Fabulous story, and I'm fascinated to see where the trilogy goes from here.
storyteller1020 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A thinker's urban fantasy with Australian locale. The trilogy was extremely thought provoking.
silenceiseverything on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have alluded (or more like outright stated) in my previous reviews my love of anything to do with witches and magic. Even thinking about anything remotely to do with magic instantly brings me back to a much more innocent place in my life. Ever since this, okay I¿ll say it, obsession with this type of world started, I¿ve been searching for books about magic that would take me back to the wonderment I first felt by watching something about it (Charmed) and reading something about it (Harry Potter). Some of the books have been good, but most of them have been a tad on the mediocre side. Magic or Madness, unfortunately, falls under the latter. First of all, the main character, Reason was completely inconsistent. No 15 year old is that naïve. It just doesn¿t happen. After a while, it did start to grate a little. In fact, every time Jay-Tee was getting annoyed at the same thing and wanting to punch Reason, I kept thinking that she should totally go for it. And as the story progressed, I was wishing for naïveté to come back because Reason was starting to turn into a damn idiot. But going back to the inconsistent part, she was taught to be on guard and a bit on the paranoid side. However, she just stands by and swallows all the fake crap that people tell her. It was like everyone else was saying ¿Dance, puppet, dance!¿ and Reason was all, ¿I shouldn¿t¿but OKAY!!!!¿ And then there are moments when she starts being wise (after like 24 hours which also makes it inconsistent) and then goes back to being an idiot. In fact, I found reason and Tom (her maybe love interest in the future) both idiots. Tom was all ¿I have to SAVE Reason¿, yet all he does for most of the book is stop by a café or a restaurant to eat something. He was equally as useless as Reason. The only characters I even remotely liked were Jay-Tee and Esmeralda. I found Jay-Tee to be refreshing and I¿ve always been drawn to ¿troubled¿ characters. Mostly because they tend to be less annoying than the actual goody-goodies in YA books (and this is coming from someone who was a complete goody-goody in high school). I was also extremely intrigued by Esmeralda. So much that I was hoping that she would narrate some chapters of the book (yes I know it¿s a YA book so I should¿ve known she wouldn¿t). Again, it could be my love of ¿troubled¿ characters shining through. The magic in the Magic or Madness was also intriguing. It¿s too bad that it was only lightly touched upon in this book. So, Magic or Madness was a bit of a bust for me. I just didn¿t find Reason¿s portrayal realistic. Neither was Tom, come to think of it. Will I read the second book? Probably. But only because of that interesting storyline involving Esmeralda that I think may come up. But it sure as hell won¿t be anytime soon.
MeganAndJustin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I opened this for some light bedtime reading and couldn't go to sleep until I finished. Only through great will and the late hour did I manage not to open the second right away. Interesting premise and fun writing.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason and her mother have spent their lives feral in the Austrian outback, avoiding cities and never staying in one place for very long. When her mother has a violent breakdown, Reason is ferried off the the very Grandmother they'd been fleeing. When Reason sneaks through a door in her Grandmother's house and is transported to a wintery New York, everything her mother taught her seems proved a lie. Magic does exist. It is dangerous. And there are bad people out there who will try to use her.I enjoyed the strong Australian voices in this story, which alternates between three main characters, reason, Tom, another Sydney teen, and JT, an runaway in New York. The magic system is original and interesting, and I'm interested in following Reason, Tom adn JT as they learn more about it. Esmerelda, the beautiful and young grandmother is creepy enough to add a good sense of tension.I did feel that this was a set up for a denser book - while the story did stand alone, I think that the second and third books in the trilogy might be more story and less groundwork.I think that Australian/New York expressions were highlighted a little too much- readers would notice the little differences without characters mentioning them all the time.I'd give this to people who like fantasy, enjoy hearing Australian voices, or like family gothic stories.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The names in this book were wonderful! Reason discovers that magic is real and is learning how to deal with it.
deslivres5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Magic or madness...which would you choose? This first book in this series sets the stage with strange family relationships, mysteries galore, loyal friendships and enough food references to make you hungry.
dotarvi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I opened this for some light bedtime reading and couldn't go to sleep until I finished. Only through great will and the late hour did I manage not to open the second right away. Interesting premise and fun writing.
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!!
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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!!
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