Profile of Justine Larbalestier

More Information

Profile moderator

Currently moderated by Writertopia members.

The profiled writer can claim ownership of this profile by contacting us.


I’m a writer who lives in Sydney, Australia. I’ve just finished a a young adult (YA) fantasy trilogy, in which the door of a house in Sydney opens onto a street in New York City (beats long-haul flights). The first volume, Magic or Madness, was published in March 2005 by Penguin/Razorbill and by Penguin Australia in September 2005. It has sold to Taiwan, France, Thailand and Germany.

     Magic or Madness has been nominated for an Aurealis Award for best Australian YA book of the year and was a best book of the year selection for School Library Journal, Tayshas (the Young Adult Round Table of the Texas Libary Association), the Australian children's literature magazine, Magpies, as well as making the ALA (American Library Association) 2005 Best Books for Young Adults list and Locus’ Recommended Reading for 2005.

     The sequel, Magic Lessons, will be out in March 2006 and has already sold in France and Germany. The as-yet-untitled third and final book appears in March 2007.

     My first book, a non-fiction tome, The Battle of The Sexes in Science Fiction (Wesleyan University Press, 2002) was shortlisted for the Peter McNamara Convenors' Award, the William J. Atheling Award and the Hugo for Best Related Book. It was listed by Locus as one of the 15 Top SF and Fantasy Anthologies, Collections, Non fiction books, and Art books of 2002 and was an editor's pick at Fantastic Metropolis.

     I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, punctuated by sojourns to other parts of Australia with my anthropologist parents and younger sister, including two small Aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory. The world has always seemed an odd and fascinating place to me.



Magic or Madness. Penguin/Razorbill. March 2005.

Magic Lessons. Penguin/Razorbill. March 2006.

Non-fiction books

The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. Wesleyan University Press. 2002.

Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century Wesleyan University Press. May 2006.

Short Stories

"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" Agog! Smashing Stories. Edited by Cat Sparks, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, Agog Press. 2004.

"The Mark", Say . . . Was That a Kiss? Edited by Gwenda Bond & Christopher Rowe, Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Fortress of Words. 2002

"Four Scenarios", . . . Is This a Cat? Edited by Gwenda Bond & Christopher Rowe, Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Fortress of Words. 2002

"The Cruel Brother", Strange Horizons. 22 October 2001


School Library Journal
(starred review)

Larbalestier has wrought beautiful and fearsome magic in this novel . . . [her] sense of place and refreshing exploration of magic as a force for both good and evil make this novel unusual. By turns a fantasy adventure and a thoughtful examination of relationships, this radiant gem stands alone, but expect readers to be impatient for the rest of the trilogy.

Australian Family Circle

While this is technically a fantasy novel, the very real world that's created will enchant anyone who reads it.


Delightfully quirky characters . . . a refreshingly different take on some familiar tropes.

The Star (Malaysia)

In a market flooded with fantasy novels, this book stands out, thanks to Larbalestier's unique ideas and fresh voice. Here there are no dragons, cauldrons or flying broomsticks, just magic that is as personal as a thumbprint and as vital as blood.

Kirkus Reviews

A cleverly creepy fantasy with likable, complex characters and a sinister conclusion.

Green Man Review

Magic or Madness takes place in Sydney and New York City, and both are drawn with such vivid detail that . . . both become equally alien, equally disconcerting, and equally enticing. Larbalestier captures the culture shock that an unwary traveler can fall victim to when even countries where English is spoken can seem impossibly different from each other, and where even that English can sound like a foreign tongue. This is the first fantasy I've ever read that gets the effect of having a character transported to Elfland without ever leaving the fields that we know.