Abby can’t wait until her birthday and her Judging. On that day she will be considered an adult and be able to do magic like everyone else in her family and the world. Up until now her family has had to do everything for her as their house is made up of spells upon spells that do everything from turning on the water to expanding rooms to cooking dinner. But Abby’s Judging does go like expected. She is judged to have no magical ability; she is an “ord”, ordinary with no magic in a magical world. Ords are shunned and usually kicked out of their homes and schools or sold immediately. Normal, magical people looked upon ords as if they were contagious (they weren’t) or dangerous (they kind of are). In a world of magic, ords can see through spells and are immune to magic. They can walk through wards and right into your house if they wanted to. Many ords were sold to Adventurers, who used them to get through dangerous curses in their hunt for treasure.
Thankfully, Abby doesn’t come from a normal family. Her family loves her and refuses to sell her even when pressed by a couple of insistent adventurers. Her oldest sister, Alexa, comes to her rescue with a solution. Alexa works for King Steve in education. She helps enroll Abby in a school for ords, a school where she will be taught how to survive in a magical world and where she will be safe (or safer). At the school Abby becomes friends with other ords and learns practical things like defense and how to wash dishes. But the Adventurers are desperate and the school offers a wealth of ords ripe for the picking and other dangers exist for kids with no magical abilities.
I loved this book. I thought it was charming and magical and entirely readable. I really enjoyed Abby and her family. They are a tight knit family unit who love each other, fight with each other, tease each other and protect each other…just like a family is supposed to. I also enjoyed the group of friends Abby makes at school. They are not stereotypical or one-dimensional, but well-thought out and multifaceted. The entire time I was reading this book I couldn’t help making Harry Potter comparisons. They are similar, if completely opposite, and equally enjoyable. I think this is a great discussion book with its treatment of ords and normals (racism), child abuse, families and governmental responsibilities. These themes are all woven so skillfully throughout the story that you don’t realize you are getting a lesson until you really think about it. I like that the “message” isn’t shoved in your face. I also enjoy that the ending is open-ended leaving plenty of story for another book.