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Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Ordinary Magic (edition 2012)

by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

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8713138,736 (4.22)2
Title:Ordinary Magic
Authors:Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Info:Bloomsbury USA Childrens (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

  1. 20
    Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Similar style of humour and themes of pushing back against rigid societal expectations and stereotypes.
  2. 00
    The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones (LongDogMom)
  3. 00
    Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both books are about magic and fear of those who are different

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I really enjoyed this - it took a popular trope that we're seeing in books as of late and flipped it around. The characters are engaging, the world is interesting. :D ( )
  kerrikins | Sep 25, 2013 |
Think of this as the "anti-Harry Potter." In Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, we meet 12-year-old Abby who is about to find out that in a world which runs on magic, she has none. Branded as an Ordinary - or "Ord" - Abby has to learn how to survive without magic in a world where magic is everything.

I was completely drawn into the world created by Rubino-Bradway, with all of its intricacies and dangers. When we are first introduced to Abby, she is all set to be judged to determine what level of magic she possesses, but when the judges discover she has zero ability they are horrified. They urge Abby's parents to get rid of her so that does not disgrace them. Abby's family, however, has no intention of casting out their youngest member and instead send her to a boarding school for Ords that was established by King Stephen (Steve) and Abby's oldest sister, Alexa. Abby meets other Ords just like herself, and they all attend regular classes like math and history along with self-defense and zoology (one must learn how to classify mythical creatures after all!) while trying to avoid carnivorous goblins and kidnappers.

Rubino-Bradway has written a story rife with prejudice and classism, but has done it in such a way that young readers will be more focused on Abby's actions than on the dangers around her. It is pretty horrifying to live in a world where any person, let alone a child, can suddenly be tossed aside by their family or sold to strangers just because they don't have any magical skills. Thankfully, Abby's family loves her no matter what and are determined that she will have just as rich and fulfilling a life as anyone with magic. Abby's family is fantastic - dad is a flying carpet maker, mom owns a bakery, Alexa works in the Department of Education as an adviser to the king, oldest brother Gil is a romance novelist (writing under a female name), sister Olivia is a flirty drama queen who has just moved back home after graduation, and brother Jeremy is well on his way to becoming a scholar - and all of them love Abby deeply.

Abby herself is a wonderful heroine - determined, spunky and caring. She is just as supportive of her family as they are of her. The love and acceptance of Abby's family is a huge part of this story, and helps balance the dangers Abby faces in the world outside their home. And danger comes knocking pretty quickly after Abby is found to be an Ord; adventurers keep stopping by the family home trying to buy Abby so she can be used to access areas that have been secured with magic (since Ords are immune to spells). Two of the worst are Barbarian Mike and his companion Trixie - they are determined to obtain an Ord no matter what the cost.

Abby's family is in stark contrast to the families of other students she encounters - Fred's stepmother sold him to Barbarian Mike and Trixie (but Abby's dad and Alexa rescue him on their way to drop off Abby at school) and Frances was kicked out by her parents and taken in by a kindly neighbor. Joining Abby, Fred and Frances at school is a boy named Peter, who is loved by his Ord mother just as much as Abby is loved by her magical family. Peter is the only character I had difficulty with; I liked him, but I never quite understood why he was so stand-offish with Abby and the other students. He eventually warms up to them (when Abby basically forces friendship on him), but for most of the story he holds himself back from others and it is never really explained why.

The Margaret Green School that the Ords attend is also interesting. It has minotaurs in charge of security and is wrapped with cold iron and spells to repel malevolent trespassers. Classes in self-defense are mandatory and teach the students various methods to defend themselves from monsters and kidnappers, while language classes will make plotting an escape easier if they are ever kidnapped and sold to someone outside their kingdom. Sponsoring the school is King Steve, a very nice gentleman who seems to be a bit attached to big sister Alexa. Determined to change the traditions of the society he has inherited, he has outlawed the sale of Ords in his kingdom and established harsh punishments for kidnapping them.

The story moves briskly and twists neatly between quiet moments and action. There are goblin attacks, kidnappings, and escapes. Humor is used throughout to help soften the dark themes (I especially loved when Abby discovered some unexpected and very fervent fans of her brother Gil's romance novels), as is the love between family and friends. Even Barbarian Mike and Trixie have a couple of moments where you can see they care about each other. Everything comes to a head in an exciting finale that contains both heroism and loss, and sets things up nicely for a sequel.

With its mix of humor, magic, action and danger, Ordinary Magic is a fun and exciting read. While it definitely has some dark themes, author Caitlen Rubino-Bradway never loses sight of her young audience and tells the story in a very accessible and entertaining manner. Characters are well-rounded and interesting, and even the villains have moments of humanity. Geared more to the middle-school crowd, Ordinary Magic has enough substance to entertain teens and adults as well. If you enjoy Harry Potter (especially year one) and Percy Jackson, you might want to give Ordinary Magic a try. ( )
1 vote eomalley | Apr 20, 2013 |
Originally posted here.

This book is so freaking cute and clever. I just adored it right from the beginning. It's a little bit Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and a bit Harry Potter and a bit ordinary. Now, please do not take too much away from the HP comparison. The plot isn't HP at all; it's more the atmosphere and the cast of quirky characters, and the boarding school setting.

In Abby's world, magic is normal. The weird people are those without any magical powers. On her Judging day, where her level of magical abilities will be determined, she's not worried at all, because everyone in her family is crazy talented. Besides, ords (ordinary, magicless people) are RARE. She's never met one. Until she learns she IS one. I just loved this concept. I love when what is ordinary is turned on its head.

The plot was the only thing that was a bit weak, very middle grade. Basically, ords can be useful for a couple of things, so they are generally sold as slaves to adventurers who use them to break into places guarded by magic, which doesn't affect ords. The big bads of the book are some adventurers determined to capture Abby and make her their little ord slave. While the concept is fascinating, they just do not have the evilness of a good villain, and I was never particularly concerned about what would happen.

What made this book completely awesome were the characters. There really wasn't a character I was not entertained by, except perhaps Trixie. Everyone is unique and funny and just bursting with life. The writing is full of humor. My favorite character was probably Peter, because I have a soft spot for people who are hard on the outside buy squishy soft on the inside.

I want to share a bit with you as a perfect example of the tone of the book. This was one of my favorite parts. On her first day at the ord boarding school, the headmaster delivers this delightfully sarcastic speech:

" 'Well, I see you're all here. Again.' Her brisk, warm voice carried through the crowd 'Now, you know I don't like to give speeches'—someone choked off a laugh—'but this is an extraordinary occasion. I could not let it go by without saying...how disappointed I am.' Everyone at my table sat up straight, darting quick, worried glances at each other, but all around us the other kids were smiling. 'Yes, another year has started, and we have exactly the same number of students as last year. Not one single student was lost.' "

Isn't that just the best? The headmaster gives a hilarious, ironic speech to scare the newbies. I was much amused. The speech continues to relate all the ways in which the students DIDN'T manage to die.

Ordinary Magic is fresh and fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes stories full of magic, even if the characters aren't. Based on the ending, I suspect more are on the way, and I hope that that is the case. ( )
1 vote A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
I found Ordinary Magic by author Caitlen Rubino-Bradway to be fun, entertaining and adventurous. Abby is a strong and determined young girl, and I loved reading her reactions to the strange and sometimes dangerous situations. I can definitely see this being a popular book for ages 10 and up, especially for girls; although I think even boys will like all the magic and mahem in this story. A very engaging, and unique look at the magic world, poor Abby finds herself in the minority when she is declared to be a non-magical child ~ basically one of the few "normal" and non-magical people in a world completely full of magic.
I really enjoyed this story and loved reading along as Abby discovered new and interesting things about herself, her family and those she has known her entire life. She makes new friends, new discoveries and battles some real "meanies" in this entertaining fantasy adventure. A really fun read for ages 10 and up! ( )
  Lovez2read | Oct 2, 2012 |
Abby is an ord, with no magic of her own and immune to other people's. This makes her a pariah, with some people not considering her quite human. But ords are in high demand in some circles; adventurers who need ords to get through magical traps are not above kidnapping one if their family won't sell them. And then there are the monsters who want to eat them. Abby's family stands by her, and sends her to a school for ords, which trains them how to fight and to fend for themselves. But the threats are still out there.

An interesting take, with appealing characters. The pacing is a bit odd, with no real resolution--sequel in the offing? ( )
  readinggeek451 | Sep 20, 2012 |
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In a world where everyone possesses magical abilities, powerless twelve-year-old Abby, an Ordinary, is sent to a special school to learn how to negotiate a magical world with her unmagical "disability"--and to avoid becoming a victim of kidnappers, carnivores, and goblins ready to prey upon the Ords.… (more)

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