Magic or Madness is the first book in the Magic or Madness trilogy by Justine Larbalestier. In the first installment, the reader is introduced to a fifteen year old girl named Reason Cansino. Reason was raised by her mother Sarafina alone in the Australian outback. For all of Reason’s life they’ve been on the run, never having the luxuries of friends or living in a nice house. But when Sarafina ends up hospitalized due to a mental problem, Reason is left all alone with no one to take care of her. No one except for her grandmother Esmeralda.
Reason knows all about her grandmother from the stories her mother Sarafina has told her. She’s been told her grandmother is an evil witch who does horrifying sadistic practices with magic. The last thing Reason wants to do is leave her mother’s side and live with this crazy stranger, her grandmother. But when she is placed with Esmeralda, she has no choice but to survive and find a way out.
While searching the huge house that Esmeralda lives in, Reason finds a strange key. After some researching, Reason realizes the key opens a locked door in the house. Where does the door lead to? Why does Esmeralda always leave it locked? Does something magical exist on the other side of that door? What will happen if Reason opens it?
Magic or Madness is enchanting, magical, and all around a beautifully told story that swept me away and made me want to escape right along with Reason Cansino. The characters are vivid and easy to imagine, from their looks, to their voice in the narration of the story. The book moves along at a fast pace as the reader runs away with Reason on her search for answers. No one can be trusted and we don’t know if anyone is who they really say they are.
Magic or Madness is original and just so different from anything that I’ve ever read. Adults and children can both enjoy this book as it is written for both audiences. I absolutely loved and adored every word and everything about this book. I would heartily recommend Magic or Madness to anyone who enjoys the feeling of being taken away and immersed into a fantastic novel. I greatly look forward to reading the other two books in Justine Larbalestier’s trilogy.