This week is Children’s Book Week and we’re participating in the Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop! Our book review and giveaway is for Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. Caitlen and her mother co-authored one of the stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do it, which we previously reviewed. They also co-authored Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, a novel for adults. Ordinary Magic is Caitlen’s first solo novel, and it’s a very promising debut.
Abby lives in a world where magic is the norm. People without magic are called ords and they’re considered dangerous to society. The very thought of ords gives her the shivers, although she doesn’t know any of them. Everyone in her family has high levels of magic and she can hardly wait to find out what level she’ll be. Her family has understandably high expectations for her, since she’s always been a bit precocious and is very smart.
“I glanced at the Judging dress through the mirror. The Hale Family Traditional Ceremonial Judging Dress usually hangs in a special wardrobe up in the attic, next to Mom’s wedding dress and all the graduation robes we acquired over the years. It’s a beautiful dress – silky and rich and deep purple and so ornate that without magic it took at least four hands and fifteen very focused minutes to put it on…I’d been waiting to wear that dress forever.”
Abby’s really looking forward to being judged, although she’s a bit scared about what it may involve. When her family takes her to be judged at the Guild, she’s surprised when she walks through the archway and nothing happens. But she’s not as surprised as the judges. Even though they have her repeat the process several times, still nothing. And then the bad news – Abby’s an ord. Her family is flabbergasted. How could this happen in such a distinguished magical family like theirs?
“Dad swallowed the last of his lemonade and shrugged. ‘Okay, now what?’
‘You have to get rid of her,’ Mr. Grady said, and not nicely.
‘That’s ridiculous,’ Dad said.
‘I can’t even believe I’m hearing this,’ Mom said, her arms still tight around me. ‘Are you seriously saying, Martin, that we should get rid of our daughter?’
‘There’s no use getting defensive, Mrs. Hale,’ Mr. Grady said. ‘It is the plain truth. There are few options available to families of ords. It is a shame there are so few, but it’s not as if it can be changed.’”
Unfortunately Abby quickly finds how limiting it is to have no magic. She can’t do even normal everyday tasks because they all involve magic usage. Everyone in the family has to help her. Not only that, but people avert their eyes and basically shun her and her family, just because she has no magic.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a whole street [full] of people go completely silent before, but it’s creepy.”
Luckily Abby’s oldest sister, Alexa, is working for the king at a boarding school in Rothermere. It’s an experiment to see how ords might contribute to society if they’re educated and trained like everyone else. She assures the family she can get Abby a spot at the school. It means leaving her family behind but it’s an honor to be chosen to participate and she’s grateful but scared about what her future could hold, given her limited abilities.
“I turned to Alexa. ‘There’s a school for ords?’
‘We’ve kept it pretty quiet,’ she said. ‘Not everyone’s thrilled with the idea of educating ords. Or taking them off the market [as cheap labor]. But it’s a really nice place. Good kids. Small student body, but we’re working on that.’
A hundred questions pressed down on me. ‘And you’re going to get me in?’
‘Yes,’ she said.
‘Just like that?’
She crossed her arms over her chest, ‘What’s this? You doubt me?’”
When they arrive at the school, it’s daunting to see the high iron spike topped fence and gate. The whole thing looks kind of like a prison from the outside. Still Abby’s grateful because this way they’ll be safer from magical creatures outside against whom ords can’t protect themselves. What could a school for ords have to offer her when ords are considered useless? What kind of classes will she take? What will the other students be like? Will she have a future in a world that’s so magic-centric?
Abby is horribly traumatized when she finds she’s so different from the rest of her family. My heart went out to this scared young girl. Ords are considered worthless on her world and I immediately thought of all the marginalized people on our world who are considered different, and wrongfully so. The way Abby’s family rallies around her is wonderful even though they’re almost as scared for her as she is. I also loved the school, the students, and magical and non-magical staff. I’m not going to tell you why to prevent spoilers.
Caitlen Rubino-Bradway has written an excellent fantasy novel, filled with magic, all kinds of fantastical creatures – good and evil, suspense, adventure, and lots of danger as well as heart-warming moments. I enjoyed it quite a bit. After all, we all need to be reminded from time to time that underneath our differences, we’re all the same.
The publisher has recommended Ordinary Magic for ages 8 and up but that seems a bit young to me. Maybe it would work for a mature 8 year old but it would have given me nightmares at that age. I’d recommend it for ages 10 and up. And, thanks to the publisher’s generosity, one lucky reader will win a copy for Children’s Book Week!
Can’t wait to read it?
Ordinary Magic will be released on May 8, 2012 but it should be available for pre-order from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button below to go there to get it.
I’d love to get your comments on Ordinary Magic, Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, and/or this review. If you’d like to read our review of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, click here.
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One lucky reader will win a hard-cover copy of Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway!
Once you’ve entered our giveaway, be sure to click on the link below the Rafflecopter form so you can enter the approximately 100 other book-related giveaways in the Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop!
1) The deadline for entries is Friday night, 5/11/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 13 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
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6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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Click here to link to the other book-related giveaways in the Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop!