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Dirty Magic by Carol Hughes
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Dirty Magic

by Carol Hughes

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Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

I really liked Carol Hughes' book DIRTY MAGIC. It is about an unlikely hero by the name of Joe.

Joe has a major fight with his little sister, Hannah, and wishes she were dead. The next thing he knows, he is dreaming that his sister is being taken away in an ambulance. He wakes up and finds a gray girl named Katherine, who says she needs to take him to Asphodel, so that he can find his sister. Asphodel is the place where children go when they are in comas to wait for either life or death.

In Asphodel, he finds a very dreary, industrialized place.

It is constantly raining. He is taken to a guide and luck finds him with a blind guide named Spider. At first we believe that Spider is not very reliable, but soon we learn that Spider is the one person that Joe needs to believe in and follow if he wants to find his sister. This land is at war. There are killing machines, secret police, and a bureaucracy that makes moving across this land almost impossible. They have to go to Long City, which is in the middle of the country, and the adventure they have dodging the machines, the secret police, and surviving the weather is amazing. On this journey Joe learns about the politics of the land and starts to use his brains to help the three of them survive.

The end of this story has a great twist and I enjoyed the last one hundred pages immensely. I have rated this for older teens, but a mature younger reader would probably also like it. The moral of this story is that we all do things that are horrible but we can all be forgiven. That we are not be so ashamed of our secrets that we hide from the world and let others rule over us. This is a great lesson to learn at any age.

So if you like books about war, fantasy, science fiction, and great relationships, go pick up a copy of DIRTY MAGIC. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
Joe is mean to his sister after she wrecks one of his possessions and then she is sent to hospital and looks like she might by dying before he tells her he is sorry. Into his world crashes the feisty Katherine who has sibling issues herself. Katherine drags Joe into another world where a terrible war is being fought between 2 sisters - each blaming the other for the death of a third. Katherine, Joe and the mysterious blind guide Spider must travel from one side of the world to the other in order for Joe to save his sister. But in the processes they must cross a treacherous battle field populated with amazing machines that can kill you in all sorts of terrible ways. There are secret maps, cryptic books, imprisoned figures and treachery at every turn from the most unlikely places (Kat's brother?) but this world is not what it seems - will Joe ever get home? An entertaining and enthralling quest book.Unfortunately, I guessed what had really happened to Joe at the start of this book, which coloured my reading of it and meant that the big shock ending was not so big for me! (Warning Plot spoiler : there is nothing wrong with Hannah - Joe is sick and in "purgatory" and fighting to get well and home!) p.9 -17 "waiting" Joe meets Katherine for the first time.
  nicsreads | Feb 10, 2008 |
The book kept me engaged, but I felt a little cheated by the ending. I also didn't see how the title really fit the book, however it was fairly enjoyable. ( )
  Crewman_Number_6 | May 10, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375831886, Paperback)

After a night of particularly strange and vivid dreams, Joe is visited by a girl who seems to be all gray, from her hair to her eyes to her clothes. Wherever she steps, the world melts away, replaced by a land of mud and rain. Telling Joe he must come with her if he wants to save his younger sister, who is gravely ill, the girl leads Joe through to her gray world, which is in the midst of a twenty-year-old war. There Joe dodges bullets, fearsome motion-tracking tanks, and the secret police as he searches for his sister.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After his little sister Hannah becomes mortally ill, ten-year-old Joe follows a shadowy figure to the war-torn land of Asphodel, a mysterious and dangerous world of dying children, where he entrusts himself to a devious blind guide, faces ruthless killing machines, and discovers a shocking truth about himself.… (more)

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