Book Review: “Magic Lessons” by Justine Larbalestier

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In this sequel to Magic or Madness, fifteen-year-old magic-user Reason Cansino begins to learn how to control the powers she only lately learned she has. And control them she must, for if she uses them too much, she will die very young…and if she uses them too little, she will go insane.

What Reason really wants to learn, with her mathematical mind, is the secret of how to escape this terrible dilemma. She wants to find out how to save herself, and her friends Tom and Jay-Tee, from having to choose between madness and an early death. She wants to find a cure for her mother’s magic-related mental illness. And she wants to feel safe from older magic-users, like her grandmother Mere and the dastardly Jason Blake, who lengthen their lives at the expense of innocent youths.

Reason, Tom, and Jay-Tee have their first magic lesson together in a spooky house next door to Mere’s palatial Sydney home. But Reason makes her most astounding discoveries on the other side of the magical door that leads directly from Mere’s kitchen to a street in New York City, half a world away.

In the icy streets of New York Reason finds romance and danger. Jay-Tee’s gorgeous brother makes her heart go pitter-patter…the fury of Jason Blake makes her knees turn to water…and the strange, ancient being that attacks her every time she comes near the door back to Sydney, fills her with disgust and terror. But one of them holds the key to using magic without losing years off her life. And if she can grasp that secret for herself, perhaps she can do something to stop Mere and Jay-Tee from dying…or from draining the life out of Tom in order to stay alive.

Cheers to Ms. Larbalestier – who seems equally at home in Sydney and New York – for creating a unique brand of magic and using it to bridge the gap between such distant, but fascinating, cities. Cheers again for sharing with us the confused feelings and thrilling destinies of Tom, Jay-Tee, and Reason. And hooray for the upcoming third book in the trilogy, titled Magic’s Child.