Friday, September 26, 2008

Coming to grips with magic

In this second volume of the Magic or Madness trilogy, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino has survived her first brush with her magical heritage. Now, even though she still doesn't trust her grandmother, she realizes that if she is going to survive, she needs knowledge. Her grandmother is willing to teach her and Jay-Tee, as she's been teaching Tom - but Reason believes her grandmother has her own agenda.

Before they can progress very far in their lessons, someone - something - attacks the house. Whatever it is, and not even Reason's grandmother seems to know, it's something extremely powerful - could it possibly be Reason's grandfather? Or something else entirely? Whatever it is, Reason seems to be the only one who is able to combat it. Then she is pulled through that magical door that between Australia and New York City, and finds herself facing a being of unimaginable power with intentions she cannot begin to understand.

This volume of the trilogy acts as a bridge between the first and third books, and its narrative arc does not conclude until the end of the third volume, which may be why the storytelling didn't feel quite as focused to me as in the first book. Even so, I found it gripping and enjoyed the continuing development of the relationships among Reason, Tom and Jay-Tee. Reason's grandmother is a complex and fascinating character, and I enjoyed seeing how Reason's perceptions of her changed as the story unfolded. Good and evil are not categorical constructs in this book - characters have flaws and strengths, and these things drive the plot, giving the books depth and resonance. I found this one hard to put down, and I couldn't wait to get to the next one to see what happened next!

Books in the Magic or Madness trilogy:
1. Magic or Madness
2. Magic Lessons
3. Magic's Child

Magic Lessons (#2 in the Magic or Madness trilogy) by Justine Larbalestier (Razorbill, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
Needs More Demons?
Off the Shelf


  1. Oh I love that tree! It's beautiful!

  2. Not only do you read great books, but you read great books with gorgeous covers!

  3. Ohh, I really need to read this series. :-)

  4. Having read the third one, I definitely agree that this one is a bridge between the first and third....You really need the third to make sense of the Magic Lessons.

  5. Ladytink - and I always got the feeling that there was more to that tree (as described in the book) than met the eye, but the narrative never really got into it.

    Nymeth - I love the cover on this one, too. Thanks!

    Em - you definitely do! :-)

    Cuileann - I had to read it right away, too, because I had to know what was going to happen! Do you think there will be any more? I just got her newest book from the library, but I haven't started it yet. It looks like fun!


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