Lovely review

It’s not often that a writer gets a review that totally understands what they were trying to do. Well, Magic Lessons just got one from Tansy Rayner Roberts in As If: Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus:

    The lesson you will take away from this book is that magic hurts. There are countless stories that tell us magical power should come with a price (and even more countless stories that don’t), but it’s rare to find a story that demonstrates that price in such a realistic and stomach-wrenching manner as Larbalestier does in Magic Lessons. You have to respect an author who makes her characters suffer quite so miserably, and yet still keeps the reader glued to the page.

That’s what I was going for! I also really enjoyed her discussion of Esmeralda. A character I’ve found endlessly intriguing to write about. Thank you, Tansy!

A word of warning: the review features excellent plot summaries of both Magic or Madness and Magic Lessons and is thus deeply spoilerific. I wish I could summarise my books so well . . .


  1. robin on #

    What a great review — and how rewarding to hear from someone who gets you so perfectly. Congrats!

  2. Sarah Beth Durst on #

    Ooh, lovely review! Congrats, Justine!

    Hope you’re enjoying your travels.

    – Sarah

  3. Katie on #

    (I don’t THINK this is a








    I hadn’t thought about Esmerlda’s immaturity and the meaning of the title Magic Lessons again. Belies reviewer’s claim that the title is not spicy enough maybe. Yes, the discussion of Esmeralda here is rich itself and shows how juicy the character and situation are too.

    The second book has more cliffhanger edge to it in several places that rushes one through. That creates its own emotional rush for the reader and adds to the intensity of the issues brought up as well as the situations set in motion.

    I am really looking forward to understanding more about what the changes Reason has experienced mean, and how many outcomes have been set into motion. (Not just ONE “magic’s child” matters here.)

    The ethical issues are the heart that moves me most and the hook that others respond to when I describe the series to them. And the name “Reason” reverbs everywhere….

  4. Justine on #

    Katie: For obsessives like me all discussions of an unread text amount to spoilerisation.

    Thanks for your comments. It’s weird, but I find it really difficult to discuss my own work. I’m not quite sure what that’s about. Maybe I’m too close to it to be able to really see it?

  5. Katie on #

    Oh dear, maybe you should delete my comment. I should have reread the spoiler policy. I apologize to all.

  6. Justine on #

    No need to apologise! It was the very mildest fringe of what could count as spoilerisation. Not anywhere close to truly horrifying spoilerage of the “he dies on the bus” variety. Typing








    more than suffices. And like I said it’s only the crazies like me who would truly consider it spoilerage.

  7. marrije on #

    I, too, hadn’t really thought about Esmeralda’s immaturity, but it’s an interesting thought and I’ll certainly keep it in mind when re-reading Magic Lessons.

    Much to my surprise, a sort-of Esmeralda-y person has turned up in my nanowrimo novel, so evidently she’s kicking around in my subconscious.

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