by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
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.Hi guys! My name’s Abby Hale, from the book Ordinary Magic. It came out a week ago, and to celebrate Asher has kindly agreed to do a guest post with me!
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!
Okay, actually, she agreed to do a guest post with Caitlen, who actually wrote the book. But Caitlen asked if I could step in and give my top 5 tips for surviving as an ord in my world. Which we thought would be more interesting and, you know, the book is, kind of, both of ours.
Here goes —
1) Learn how to undo knots when your hands are tied. Ditto for your feet, but your hands are your first priority because once they’re free your feet are so much easier. Here’s the funny thing about being an ord — people are going to tell you all the time how useless you are and how you’re nothing, and then completely other people are going to turn around and tell you how you’re valuable and want to buy you. Sometimes these people don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. The good news is that regular rope, the kind that numbs it’s victims or casts them into complacency, isn’t going to work on you. It’ll just tie you up. If you can possibly help it, when they’re tying you up, get your hands in front of you, not behind your back. This makes everything a lot easier. (Trust me.) If your hands are in front of you, you can just use your teeth to chew at the knots until you loosen them up enough to get free. If they’re behind your back, it’s tougher, but not hopeless. Wriggle your wrists back and forth to loosen the ropes until you can get your hands free, or reach the knots to start picking at them. And remember, don’t give up. It might take a while, but you will get out.
2) Everything comes clean if there’s enough soap and water. Normal people like to think that magic is the only way, but the truth is that you can do just about anything if you put your mind to it and don’t mind it taking a while. Jut because it takes us longer doesn’t mean we can’t do it. At the Green school, if we want something clean, we have to clean it ourselves. Turns out there’s actually a lot you can do with soap and water. First night there, I had to learn how to wash dishes. We also have to do all our own laundry, and everybody’s on rotation for bathroom duty. One thing I’ve noticed is that is basically all takes a combination of soap and hot water. Not too hot — I mean, you want it hot enough to count, but not so hot you hurt yourself, obviously. And scrub. Some things take a lot of scrubbing.
3) Location, location, location. Once you’ve come up ord, you’re going to need to figure out what you’re going to do. And, unfortunately, a lot of this depends on where you are. I’d say we have it best in the Westren Kingdom, but I might be biased, and my friend Naija says that they’re actually pretty mellow and accepting in Majid, too. The trouble comes up if on the Islands, or in Svarga. Neither of them are fun places for ords, though if I had a choice – and I guess you don’t – I’d pick the Islands. They’re really strict, but Svarga is…my brother Gil suggested the word ‘dictatorial.’ Which is pretty apt.
The good news is, if you can get Rothermere, the Molly Green school is the absolute best place for you to be. It’s the big brown brick building on West 53rd. They take walk-ins. Even if you don’t want to stay at the Green school, they will help you find somewhere safe. That’s what it’s there for. To help kids like us. Did I mention the school takes walk-ins?
4) Research. Okay, so I didn’t learn this until after I went to the Green school, but there a lot of things out there that want to eat you. You need to learn about all of these things right away so that you can avoid them if at all possible and fight back if you can’t. Especially look up creatures that tend to hang out wherever it is you’re staying. Red caps tend to hole up in cities, leviathans like the deep water, and White Ladies, well, they’re wherever they can find stragglers and dark nights. Just remember — red caps are vulnerable if you get their hats, with leviathans you go for the eyes, and if it’s a White Lady…just run. Run for wherever there’s light and people, and run as fast as you can.
5) There’s going to be mean people. Now that you’re an ord, people are going to treat you different. After I came up ord, people I knew all my life, that I grew up around, started ignoring me, whispering behind my back, making fun of me. They sent notes to school saying they didn’t want me there infecting their kids, and the kid down the street threw rocks at me. Honestly, I liked the rocks the best. I could deal with them. (I tackled the kid to the ground, only his mom started wailing and called the police. I got lucky, though, because it was Officer Thompson, who’s actually really nice, and also cause Mom brought in muffins for all the officers and they let me off with a warning. Which was that next time Mom would have to bring in one of her strawberry and sour cream cakes.)
Anyway, the point is that a lot of people are going to act like there is something wrong with you just because you’re an ord. These people are wrong. My brother Gil says that some people are just blessedly unencumbered by the weight of intelligence, and that we should feel pity for the less fortunate, but the point is that they have no idea what they’re talking about. It doesn’t make it any easier to hear, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re wrong.
I guess that’s about it. I mean, that’s not it, but those are the five biggest things.
Thanks to everybody who’s been checking out Ordinary Magic — and for you ords out there, I hope I’ll see you soon at the Green School.
Got something specific in mind? Let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy! And don't forget to check out Ordinary Magic, peeps!