Magic or Madness

Magic or Madness

3.5 (3,865 ratings by Goodreads)

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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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 271 pages
  • 169 x 205 x 20mm | 299g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1595140700
  • 9781595140708
  • 287,079

Review quote

"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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About Justine Larbalestier

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

3,865 ratings
3.5 out of 5 stars
5 18% (697)
4 33% (1,260)
3 34% (1,328)
2 12% (447)
1 3% (133)

Our customer reviews

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!show more
by TeensReadToo
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