Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A magical (or mad?) conclusion

Magic's Child, the third volume of the Magic or Madness trilogy, begins where the second one leaves off. I can't say how happy I was not to have to wait for the third book to be published! I always try not to include spoilers in my plot summaries, but be warned that a few smallish ones follow. If you're interested in the trilogy, see my review of the first book for a spoiler-free review.

Changes are happening to fifteen-year-old Reason as a result with her meeting with the powerful being she encountered in the second book - these are huge physical changes that enable her to view the world around her in a magic-imbued way that is so rational and detached that it borders on the inhuman. Other changes are happening as well, of a more (or less) mundane sort: she is pregnant.

Because her grandmother and her mother were both teen parents (given magic users' propensity to die young, it makes sense), Reason has witnessed firsthand the many parenting mistakes they made, although now she understands their motives in a way she did not before. Is Reason fated to make those same mistakes with her own child? Or, given the new powers she possesses, will she manage to forge a different path? At what cost?

Her friends Jay-Tee and Tom are left to watch and try to understand what Reason is going through, and they turn to each other. It was fun to watch their relationship develop, and also to finally get to meet Reason's mother, who has been in a mental institution from the beginning of the series. I love the premise of this trilogy, and I love the way magic manifests for different people, and the way they must struggle to come to terms with the price of that magic. Difficult decisions must be made, not just by Reason, but also her family and friends. I loved the fact that Reason took matters into her own hands to try to solve her problems and take responsibility for herself and her baby - she is an admirable protagonist! The creative and ambitious premise for the trilogy comes to a very satisfying conclusion in this volume, also leaving a nice little thread dangling in the denouement that could possibly lead to a subsequent book. I'd like that!

I know this trilogy will be among my favorites read this year, both for the very original premise as well as the characters who are complex and compelling - not to mention an intricately twisted plot that showed careful planning on the author's part but always kept me on the edge of my seat. Larbalestier has a new book out, unrelated to this series, called How to Ditch Your Fairy. As sad as I am to let the characters from this trilogy go, I'm glad I have the new one to look forward to.

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

Magic's Child (#3 in the Magic or Madness trilogy) by Justine Larbalestier (Razorbill, 2007)

Also reviewed at:
Needs More Demons?
Sarah's Holds Shelf

And here's a link to an interesting interview with Larbalestier.


  1. It's so satisfying to come to the end of a really great series. But I actually go through withdrawals if I'm seriously attached to the characters. Which means the writer did his/her job and they did it well.

    Loved the review!

  2. I love sitting down with a series and reading the whole thing at once lol. Waiting is awful!!!

  3. Fuzzycricket - I completely agree, and I feel the same way about letting go of the characters. Sigh.

    Ladytink - there's nothing better than having it all out there to read at once! I hate waiting, too. Except it's so exciting when that long-awaited book is finally in my hands!


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