A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{February 18, 2012}   Magic’s Child by Justine Larbalestier

Plot: Reason and her friends live in a world where magic is real. They must chose between using this magic and dying young or not using it and going mad. But Reason’s ancestor, Raul Cansino, has changed the rules, has changed her. She is rapidly turning into a creature of magic, one who need not fear madness or death. She will have endless power and eternal life and it will only cost her humanity. She may be able to save her friends and family using her new power but the question is whether she will still care enough to do it.

This is the last volume in Larbalestier’s wonderful Magic or Madness series. I have now read all her published books. She is a subtle and skillful author and I am impatiently awaiting her collaboration with Sarah Rees Brennan, Team Human. Though I highly recommend this series, this is not the place to start; you can read reviews of the first two volumes, Magic or Madness and Magic Lessons, on my blog.

This was, in my mind, the perfect ending to a unique series. In this volume, Larbalestier reveals shocking things about the nature of magic and what it makes people do to each other. Reason uses the faculty she has been named for and the distrust of magic her mother ingrained in her to save almost everyone. There are still a few loose threads at the end that leave you wondering but nothing big enough to leave you unsatisfied. And all things considered, it is a happy ending.

This is a series about magic, of course, though it is only occasionally wondrous. But Larbalestier also uses her system of magic to explore people’s conceptions of the world (through the connections that bind people, through mathematics, through shapes, etc.) and the things that power and greed do to people. It is not, however, about good vs evil as in some classic fantasy narratives. It is about choices and consequences. Thus I think it’s appropriate that Reason’s “cure” leaves the characters with a new choice, one as terrible to them as the one between madness and death.

Relationships in this series are just as complicated as the magic. Reason, her mother and her grandmother distrust, hurt and lie to each other. None are evil or perfectly good and their problems are too big to be resolved by a happy ending. Meanwhile Danny, Reason’s love interest, is far from a romantic ideal but cannot be simply dismissed as a selfish jerk. But my favorite relationship in the series is the romance between Tom and Jay-Tee because it’s awkward, confusing and passionate just as I remember love being at 15. I have high hopes for them, in spite of other differences, because their relationship is based in caring and friendship.

A unique, magical series well worth reading.

2012 (#20)


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