REVIEW: Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

043. Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 8, 2012), eARC, 256pp / ISBN 1599907259
Genre: MG Fantasy

Read: March 2-3, 2012
Source: NetGalley (thank you!)

Summary from Amazon:

In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society. The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary—it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!


This is one of those books that, immediately after finishing it, makes me think it’s the best book ever. While it’s pretty darned good, and while I enjoyed reading it (and liked it enough to rate it 3.5 birds), I can’t actually remember all that much about it. Usually, with books I adore, I have a few things I particularly like and those things stick in my mind until the next time I read it. Right now, several months after reading Ordinary Magic, all I can remember is that the family relationship(s) are adorable.

I suppose that’s a good start, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting review! And I don’t know if that’s the book’s fault, or if it’s my fault. I mean, I DID have a great time reading it. But I can barely remember anything about it! I’ve just got some feelings of warm/fuzzy-ness and slight horror, which according to my notes is because it’s a) a very cute book and b) slyly scary at the same time. I didn’t know that cute books could also be horrifying, so I guess this was a good learning experience.

If you liked Kat, Incorrigible but wanted something with a bit more bite, I think Ordinary Magic is a good fit. It’s got the same sort of lighthearted, tween-learns-magic-and-stuff to it (only without the magic), and there’s drama and mystery and threatening characters lurking in the background. I actually thought it was really clever that the protagonist in a fantasy book can’t actually do any magic– keeps it from being just like every other MG/YA fantasy books starring a young kid.

The scary things, by the way? Is in the world-building. In Ordinary Magic, people sell their non-magical kids off because they don’t consider them to be human any longer. Holy shit! Any society that operates around that belief is one that I don’t want to hang out in, and yet the author keeps it from going too far into a more horror-like direction and so I kept on reading anyway. I REALLY want to read the next book and see how everything develops, especially since it looked like things were on the verge of changing for the better.

So! In conclusion: it’s cute, it’s creepy, it’s got some interesting things in it that keeps it from being a copycat MG fantasy, and yet somehow I can’t remember more than two things about it. I liked reading it; I apparently didn’t like it enough to remember it very well. Take that as you will.


I liked it quite a bit!


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