Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ordinary Magic

by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Grade: 4 1/2 stars
Story: Magic, special schools, large families, kidnappers, subtle romances, close friendships. As Abby is now twelve years old , it's finally time for the Judgement to determine her magical skill level. She gets an extremely unusual result, and then of course, everything changes.

Thoughts: That was one of the most delightful books I've read in ages. So delightful that I'm having a hard time writing about it, because it seems that everything I try to say either makes it seem too normal and underwhelming, or accidentally makes it seem like the greatest book of the 21st century. But let's say this: it was the best book of that sort that I've read since I finished off Diana Wynne Jones. Before her recent passing, DWJ was one of my favourite living authors, and one of the few authors I would buy on the spot if I found an unread one. The similarities are many, but hard to pinpoint exactly: there is the great assimilation of magic and the real world, unique and loveable characters, families who actually love each other, and a young main character who finds out they are extremely special when it comes to magical abilities.

Except of course, this book has one hugely important difference: the magical ability is actually a lack of any magical abilities whatsoever. This is cool twist on the common trope of "specialness", and there were all sorts of surprising plot developments that came out of it.

But the thing I loved most, more than anything, was the characters. Every single one of them, from Abby and her friends and her family to the teachers at the school and the main villains of the story, were indisputably awesome. The central family...well, this is where I find it difficult to describe, as I stated at the beginning. I don't want to spoil too much either. But they were so cool. And it was fascinating how cleverly the villains were given motivation and sympathy, while remaining entirely villainous and disagreeable.

MAIN, GLARING, HUGE ISSUE: It ends with several loose ends, so I don't think it's a single book. And I want the sequel. Now. Right now. Give it to meeeeeeeeeeeee.


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more. As delightful as the story was what grabbed me most was Abbys relationship with her family and the way the story operated as a kind of allegory about bullying. The plight of the Ords was really touching.

Andi who does not have Google mail

RED said...

Thanks for the comment!

Yes, I really liked the way it treated bullying and the plight of the Ords. I've read some reviews where people claimed it was rather unrealistic--that most families wouldn't abandon their children like that--but I don't entirely agree. People can be pretty darn cruel sometimes.