Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier

magicmadnessI have to confess that the only reason I got this book in the first place was because it bears the Firebird imprint, and nothing I bought under this imprint has disappointed me before. And this book keeps up with the tradition. It takes a different view of magic; here, magic is more of a curse than a blessing. (Although to tell the truth, I’d rather be magic and live an incredibly short life than not be magic! “Life is a boring chore and I’m living proof” and all that…)

The way magic works in this book, a person born with magic has two choices – they could use their magic and it will shorten their life, or they refuse to use magic and end up going insane. The protagonist, Reason, had been running from her “wicked witch” grandmother all her life. That is, until her mother has a nervous breakdown. Then she gets sent to live with her grandmother, and finds out that real magic is nothing like the stuff you read about in books or watch in movies. I continued reading mostly because I liked the premise, but Reason actually annoys me so much when she was still in her “magic doesn’t exist” mode. Her character does improve later, though I still prefer Tom and Jay-Tee.

The book keeps changing point of views, usually between Reason, Tom and Jay-Tee. This could get very confusing when I put the book down for awhile and pick it back up later. I keep having to flip back a few pages to remind myself whose point of view I’m reading from. Reason’s POV is in first-person, while Tom and Jay-Tee’s are written in third person. And Reason and Tom’s POVs are written in Australian spelling and slang, while Jay-Tee’s are in American spelling and slang. This doesn’t really distract me so much, except during moments when the characters don’t understand each other. Like Jay-Tee not understanding that “mad” can mean “crazy” as well as “angry.” Er… I don’t think Americans really have that problem… do they? They seem to understand English okay in Norfolk, even if they do butcher it when they speak sometimes.

Anyway. This is a yummy book. Will definitely recommend this one, but I will tell people to read Charles de Lint’s The Blue Girl or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere first if they want to get started on contemporary fantasy.

~ originally posted on blogspot


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