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!
In Abby's world, magic is normal. The weird people are those without any magical powers. On her Judging day, where her level of magical abilities will be determined, she's not worried at all, because everyone in her family is crazy talented. Besides, ords (ordinary, magicless people) are RARE. She's never met one. Until she learns she IS one. I just loved this concept. I love when what is ordinary is turned on its head.
The plot was the only thing that was a bit weak, very middle grade. Basically, ords can be useful for a couple of things, so they are generally sold as slaves to adventurers who use them to break into places guarded by magic, which doesn't affect ords. The big bads of the book are some adventurers determined to capture Abby and make her their little ord slave. While the concept is fascinating, they just do not have the evilness of a good villain, and I was never particularly concerned about what would happen.
What made this book completely awesome were the characters. There really wasn't a character I was not entertained by, except perhaps Trixie. Everyone is unique and funny and just bursting with life. The writing is full of humor. My favorite character was probably Peter, because I have a soft spot for people who are hard on the outside buy squishy soft on the inside.
I want to share a bit with you as a perfect example of the tone of the book. This was one of my favorite parts. On her first day at the ord boarding school, the headmaster delivers this delightfully sarcastic speech:
" 'Well, I see you're all here. Again.' Her brisk, warm voice carried through the crowd 'Now, you know I don't like to give speeches'—someone choked off a laugh—'but this is an extraordinary occasion. I could not let it go by without saying...how disappointed I am.' Everyone at my table sat up straight, darting quick, worried glances at each other, but all around us the other kids were smiling. 'Yes, another year has started, and we have exactly the same number of students as last year. Not one single student was lost.'
Isn't that just the best? The headmaster gives a hilarious, ironic speech to scare the newbies. I was much amused. The speech continues to relate all the ways in which the students DIDN'T manage to die.
Ordinary Magic is fresh and fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes stories full of magic, even if the characters aren't. Based on the ending, I suspect more are on the way, and I hope that that is the case.