REVIEW: Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

ordinarymagicOrdinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Bloomsbury Children’s, 2012
[Goodreads | 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!


You guys, I ADORED this book. Like, I’m sitting here having finished it and just want to draw hearts all over it. There is so much about it that I just loved – our main narrator, her fantastic family, the whole point that you can be so much more than people think you can, the entire world itself – that I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to find the right words and am just going to end up gushing all over this, which probably isn’t helpful to anyone reading this review. But I am SO putting this on the list of books to buy for my students! So much good stuff in this book, seriously.

Okay, fangirling done, or at least it will be tempered a bit from here on out. This book was like a reverse Harry Potter, in which, instead of realizing she’s a wizard (like Harry does), Abby is born into a world where everyone can do magic, and it’s expected that she’ll be able to do magic because everyone just does. But it’s discovered that Abby is what the world calls an “ord” – as in ordinary, as in no magical ability whatsoever. In this world, most “ords” are sent away from their families because their status reflects badly on everyone around them, but Abby’s family isn’t normal, see, because all of them – her amazing parents and her awesome siblings, all of which I loved to pieces (I think Gil is my favorite) – actually LOVE her, and therefore try to figure out what to do to help her and keep her safe.

It was weird, I felt exactly the same today as I did yesterday. Shouldn’t you feel different after you find out that you’re, you know, totally useless? I guess not. You’re born an ord, I knew that. So I’d always been useless. I just didn’t know it until yesterday.” (8%)

At this point my heart was pretty much breaking for Abby, but I had faith that things would get better, and they did, for the most part. See, Alexa, Abby’s eldest sister, runs a school for “ords”, where the kids can go to learn how to live without magic (you know, in which they learn to do things like all of us do, unless one of you has actually received a Hogwarts letter). It’s at this school where Abby starts to discover herself. She makes friends, and goes to classes (most of which are pretty mundane and normal, but they do have a self-defense class with a really kick-ass instructor), but it’s totally not boring to read about because throughout it all Abby is making these self-discoveries and becoming such a strong person. And there are all of these funny asides and humor integrated seamlessly into the narrative that the entire reading experience was just completely engaging and fun.

The book does have some darkness in it – see, ords sell for a lot of money on the black market, and Abby has a run-in with a pair of thugs who desperately want her early on (in which Alexa is completely awesome), who then spend the majority of the rest of the book in pursuit of her – and there’s some sadness and danger and absolutely gripping scenes that left me white-knuckling my Kindle and wanting to read faster than my eyes can actually move so I could see how things would turn out, but the entire thing was just so perfect that I was through it in a few hours and wanting more (because this seems like it’s definitely the first in a series, to which I say, bring it on!).

I also like the little hints that something may potentially happen between Abby and Peter somewhere down the line after they’re both much older (since they’re only twelve here), because I really adored their “friendship” (I use quotes because Peter maintains that they’re not friends, thank you very much), plus I’ll be interested to see what happens when her parents realize the truth about Alexa’s love life (which I totally saw early on). But really I just want more of this world, more of Abby, more of Abby’s family and friends, just more, more, more!

If you want a really wonderful book about learning to accept oneself that also incorporates magic, fabulous characters, and a unique world, definitely give this one a read. I wholeheartedly recommend it.


An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Quote taken from an uncorrected e-galley.

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5 Responses to REVIEW: Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

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