Magic is something that many of us (maybe not-so) secretly wish for. As a culture, we’ve accepted illusions and believing in the discreet wizards of Harry Potter. A new addition to magical worlds and academies is Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins.
Nory is the daughter of the headmaster of Sage Academy, but she still has to take the Big Test to earn her way into the elite school. Nory’s older brother and sister got in with no problem, but Nory’s worried since her magic has a tendency to go a little wonky. Might not be a big deal, but when trying to turn into a cute, cuddle kitten, other animal elements creep in, like a beaver or dragon, and her animal mind tends to take over. After Nory failed her entrance test, her father sends her to live with her aunt Margo and go to a school that has an Upside-Down Magic class. Meeting fellow kids who have unique magic and learning to embrace and control it is the goal of the class, which sounds nice, but Nory just wants to be normal and go home.
This was a cute story with an interesting magical concept and a strong message to its readers: be who you are, not who society says you should be. The narrative’s duration and language seem to fit the intended audience, which can be a difficult feat. While the message is strong, it was blatantly presented toward the end of the narrative, as if the reader were hit upside the head with it saying “HERE’S THE POINT OF THE STORY.” I was a little confused about magic’s role and integration into the world as it wasn’t made horribly clear, but I intuitively went with it is known and accepted in this world.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.