I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I picked up this series, but I sure did not get what I expected. This is absolutely not a book along the lines of “You’re a wizard, Harry,” so don’t go thinking this has any resemblance to Harry Potter. Far from it. I’ve read other books about magic where the reader is swept along with the excitement of learning and wielding powerful magic, and this series isn’t that either. This is more along the lines of, “I’m an ordinary person, but I have a disease that will kill me–Magic.” Pardon my saying this, but like having something that cannot be replenished, i.e. virginity or a females capability of reproduction, or even just your own lifespan and the . Something absolutely finite that once lost is gone forever. (No Pride and Prejudice pun intended.) Just so you’re warned about the idea that this creates of magic, go ahead and read if you’re still interested. It’s certainly a more scientific or possibly realistic manipulation of magic than has commonly been used. I rather get the idea of the Star Wars equivalent of midi-chlorians if you could somehow lose or destroy those midi-chlorians when you were using your Jedi powers…I’m rambling. Enough of that, back to the review.
In the Magic or Madness series by Justine Larbalestier, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino’s world has just toppled upside down, almost literally. All her life she’s been running from her grandmother, Esmeralda, because of her evil magic, but when her mother, Serafina, gets taken to a mental hospital, Reason is left with the only family she’s ever known and feared. Her mother used to tell her terrible tales of Esmeralda’s bloodthirsty and pagan ways, and Reason is determined to run away. Her plan has one catch, however, because when she opens the back door expecting a hot Sydney summer in Australia, she falls into winter in New York City. She has no choice but to believe in magic.
In New York, she is rescued by JT, another girl with magic who has been waiting for Reason. JT has ulterior motives for rescuing Reason, but comes to like her despite her appearance of frailty and innocence. Can they both escape the clutches of JT’s master and figure out this magic thing before it’s too late?
In Magic Lessons, Reason, JT, and Tom have come to live with Esmeralda, who’s promised to be trustworthy. But something terrifying, a golem, breaks through the door from New York City, it starts Reason on a path that she cannot escape. While Reason gets pulled back to New York by the golem (whom we assume is sent by the despicable Jason Blake, her grandfather), JT and Tom are left in Australia to figure out how to keep the golem back and how to stop JT from dying, because she’s used up so much of her magic. Reason, not knowing what else to do when she is in such danger, calls JT’s brother Danny, whom she can’t help but have a crush on. But this choice has way more consequences than she is prepared for because she is magically manipulated into a physical relationship with Danny that results in pregnancy (remember, she’s only fifteen!). However, this is exactly what the terrifying golem wants. Reason has to figure out why something that seems so evil and harmful to her could actually be protecting her from something even greater…
Reason’s back in Australia and everyone knows about her pregnancy. But Reason is more than just changing with the process of becoming a mother. She’s taken strange magic from the golem-man, the Other Cansino, and now she’s more powerful than anyone. The magic is changing her and will destroy her, destroy her family from the greed of magic, and destroy the future of her child. Nothing seems simple as Reason watches the machinations of those she loves and would love to protect quickly devour her. Reason must make some very hard choices, even if it means going against one’s own family.
I found this series just hard for my brain to wrap around, mostly because of the heavy focus on science and mathematics. Also, I could NOT get over how it was simply “okay” for yet another fifteen-year-old to just be manipulated into getting pregnant like her mother and grandmother before her. I took a very strong disliking to this series for those plot developments. Why? Because the implication is there that the magic forced them together physically, without love, without any relationship whatsoever, to automatically subject that physical encounter with a viable pregnancy and then force our heroine into a series of decisions that most fifteen year olds could not make alone, even without being pregnant. It just…didn’t seem to suspend reality for me. I feel pretty positive that I would’ve very much disliked this series as a teenager, but that shouldn’t matter to any of you. Anyone else have another opinion? Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend buying this series right off the bat. Take a look at other reviews on Goodreads or Amazon to see if this is something you might like.
As always, if you like something, don’t ever let anyone sway your opinion. 🙂 Happy reading!