Abject magic: reasoning madness in Justine Larbalestier's magic or madness trilogy

Troy Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the representation of magic and madness in Justine Larbalestier s Magic or Madness trilogy (2005-2007). Throughout the series, magic is constructed as an abject and disabling force that threatens to disable magic-wielders, either through madness or death. Despite being represented as a ubiquitous force, the consequences of magic are gendered, and the female protagonist of the trilogy, Reason, sets out to remove the threat of magic. The intersections between ableist, magical and feminine discourses are explored via a feminist disability politics and Kristeva s concept of abjection. While, at times, the trilogy challenges the ability/disability binary schism, the narrative closure reaffirms dualistic constructions of reason/madness, ability/disability, reality/fantasy and masculine/feminine. Thus, rather than redressing social attitudes towards mental illness and critiquing normative constructions of disability and the other, Larbalestier s trilogy reaffirms dualistic and normative constructions of mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255 - 270
Number of pages16
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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