{Review} ORDINARY MAGIC by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

THE DAY OF MY JUDGING DAWNED BRIGHT AND clear and hot.  It was searing; the air pressed against my chest with each breath.  It was Olivia's turn to look after me (to make sure my dresser cast up the right clothes, that food appeared on the table, and that the hundreds of everyday things that needed doing when you were underage got done) and with all the craziness going on, no one noticed her smuggling me up to the upstairs bathroom. 
(pg. 1, US hardcover 1st edition)

Also check out yesterday's guest post with author Caitlen Rubino-Bradway on World Building and stop back tomorrow for an awesome interview with cover designer Donna Mark!

ORDINARY MAGIC may be a middle-grade novel, but it's super-easy to sink into and get immersed in.  Interestingly, the novel was original aiming to be for teens, but was reworked as MG.  Caitlen Rubino-Bradway's voice is fresh and will pull readers along for the ride.  I loved the way the main character, Abby, narrated, and felt the voice was lively and amusing.  Her world building is also innovative; if you missed yesterday's guest post featuring how she put everything together, check it out now because you're in for a treat!

The world of ORDINARY MAGIC turns everything we think we know upside-down and inside-out, creating a topsy-turvy world where magic is part of everyday life.  Simple things such as turning on the shower, cooking breakfast, and opening up a dresser to get dressed in the morning are made easy with magic.  When citizens turn twelve, they undergo Judging to determine how powerful their magical abilities are.  This in turn determines where they go to school.  If they're really powerful, they'll go to schools the equivalent of Harvard, Oxford, etc.

As the novel opens, Abby is really excited about going to her Judging.  Unfortunately, she's declared an "Ord," an ordinary person without a lick of magic.  Ords are often treated unfairly and sold or stolen; they often die young.  Treasure hunters often want them because Ords can walk through magical traps unaffected.  Ords are also able to walk into banks and people's houses in order to rob them because they're unaffected by the spells that keep everyone else out, so they're also considered dangerous.  As soon as Abby is labeled an Ord, she's discriminated against.  She's kicked out of school and her town advertises her availability to treasure hunters.  Her family, however, refuses to give her over to a harsher lifestyle and sends her away to a school designed exclusively for Ordinary citizens, one that's hidden away and seldom heard about.  Once there, Abby finds herself adjusting to life in new ways, while still managing to have her own adventures.

One of my favorite aspects of ORDINARY MAGIC (aside from Rubino-Bradway's amazing use of voice) is the way she showcases the family unit.  There are so few books out there with a strong, caring family unit.  The Hale family really reminds me of the Weasley family from the HARRY POTTER series.  Everyone's close-knit and genuinely cares about one another.  I loved seeing such a positive message in the novel.  I also liked the way the book looked at prejudices and showcased one pre-teen's journey to accepting her differences and finding ways to fit in and belong.  This book is great on so many levels, and there are so many interesting characters that readers will encounter in Abby's world.  I'm really hoping that Rubino-Bradway and Bloomsbury grant us a sequel!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I am so incredibly excited to be sharing an interview with cover designer Donna Mark tomorrow because I LOVE THIS COVER.  

I really like the illustrations and the way the school is featured in the background. The school has a unique character in and of itself. I also like the way the trees are twisting, the ground the girl is standing upon, the way she looks like an academic. I'm loving the birds in the background and the way the sky seems full of magic and light, highlighting this magic-less girl.  

From the moment I saw this book's cover on Netgalley to seeing the awesome synopsis, I knew this was a book I really wanted to read!  Bloomsbury puts out a ton of amazing novels, too, so I always know I'm in for a good time when I see this publisher attached!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Release Date: Out May 08, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Received: Received for Review


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!


  1. Seems intriguing :) And I LOVE the cover as well :) Great review :D
    xoxo, Mariam @Book-A-Holic

  2. I adored this story. I agree with you about the family unit being strong and close knit. It was a pleasant change up for me. It was also nice to see a government and king who wasn't afraid to stand up for the minority.

  3. I've never heard about this book so thanks for telling me about it. I'm not a huge fan of MG but I love witchy fun and this sounds great! Thanks for the fantastic review. So glad you enjoyed it!


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