Twelve-year-old Abby Hale’s waited years for her Judging Day and its festivities. Her siblings have all come home, even the over studious Jeremy. There’s the family dress to wear and her mother’s special necklace. When she heads to the Guild for the Judging, she’s filled with anticipation. Why shouldn’t she be? Once she’s been Judged, she’ll finally be able to use magic like an adult. There’ll be no more waiting for an adult to come rescue her for the most basic of things—getting clothes out of the drawers, making her bed, getting the kitchen to cook. Her siblings all did well on their Judging Days, all 5s or higher, with her oldest sister Alexa receiving a very rare 9.
At the Guild the unthinkable happens. Abby doesn’t even pass the first level. She’s ordinary, an ord, and her parents are being advised on how to get rid of her. Thankfully for Abby, her parents defy convention. Their love for her can’t solve everything—the local school will no longer keep Abby enrolled. Its Abby’s sister Alexa who has a solution for this. She’s worked for the king for years in a job that she’s never been allowed to discuss. That job is working at a school for ords where Abby will learn how to live without the aid of magic. More importantly, she’ll learn how to defend herself for there are many people –and creatures—who would love to get their hands on an ord.
Why would anyone want an ord when families are encouraged to get rid of them and the majority of ords are treated like they are disease reason? It’s simple. Magic can’t touch them. The strongest, most expensive antitheft spells mean nothing at all to an ord. Booby traps don’t phase them all. For adventurers, there’s no greater tool than an ord. Before Abby even sets foot in her new school an unscrupulous pair of adventurers have tried to procure her as their newest ord, having lost their previous one to death. This pair doesn’t understand no for an answer and will use whatever means necessary to get an ord.
Abby joins a small group of first years at the school. All are children of magical families save Peter. Most of the students come from families that no longer want them. Many see the school as a refuge, but they will soon learn that safety is something they’ll have to fight for and not a comfort.
Ordinary Magic is an amazing middle grade fantasy. Not only does it twist many of the genre’s conventions but it is filled with well developed characters and relationships. Abby’s supportive quirky family is a joy to read about. The students struggle to come to know and trust one another with realistic stormy patches. This is a book to read and share over and over again.
I read an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley. Ordinary Magic comes out on May 8, 2012.