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Don't Expect Magic Library Binding – November 8, 2011

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Library Binding: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385908245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385908245
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,660,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

If KATHY McCULLOUGH had one wish, it would be for world peace—or a continuously self-replenishing bar of chocolate. A graduate of Cornell University, she lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a novelist and screenwriter. This is her first book. Visit Kathy online at or follow her on Twitter @kathymccullough.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Of course I’m cursed with the most uncomfortable seat on the plane. The cushion’s deflated in this bizarrely lopsided way, like somebody with one butt cheek exponentially bigger than the other sat there before me and crushed it. My overhead light’s burned out and the bald guy in front of me dropped his diet Dr Pepper, splashing sticky soda all over my backpack, which I had wedged under the seat.

It shouldn’t be called Murphy’s Law, it should be called Delaney Collins’s Law, because I’m living it. If something can go wrong, it does, and anything bad just gets worse. I don’t even want to be on this plane. But I have no choice.

For now, anyway.

I turn up the volume on my iPod and scroll to the heavy metal playlist Mom downloaded for me: all of her favorite songs for scrambling the brain and numbing the mind. We used to blast it whenever we were angry or depressed or frustrated with the world--which was a lot toward the end. But tonight my brain cells are staying stubbornly unscrambled and unnumbed.

I stare out at the itch-black night, but the grimy little window just reflects my face back at me. The dim cabin lighting casts weird shadows that make me look like a girl out of a manga book: long black pen strokes for hair, eyes circled in dark ink, face flat and expressionless.

Maybe it’s a true reflection. Maybe everything that’s happened has drained the human part out of me and left just a two-dimensional drawing.

I wish.

I’ve tried sketching. I’ve been working on a new design: thigh-highs with spikes on the backs of the heels, chains around the ankles and slashes up and down the sides like they’ve been hacked at with a switchblade. I call them Shredded Death. The idea’s finished in my head but only halfway done on the page, because my mind keeps getting yanked back to . . .

“I like your boots.”

I turn away from the window. Next to me in the middle seat is a little girl around four years old. She’s in a pink fairy princess outfit, complete with plastic tiara and a magic wand made out of a chopstick with a glitter-covered construction-paper star taped to the end of it. Her overhead light hits her like a spotlight so that she practically shimmers. On her other side, her mother snores softly in the shadows.

I could ignore her. That usually works, but kids and old people can be a problem. There’s something abnormal about them--they can’t take a hint.

What the hell, I think. Maybe having a pointless conversation with a delusional preschooler will provide the distraction I’m desperate for. It’s worth a try. I remove one earbud but keep the other one in, so I’m still getting a regular flow of screeching guitar--an emotional IV.

“Huh?” I say. It’s important to start aloof, in case I have to cut it off abruptly. I don’t want to lead anyone on, make them think I might actually be friendly.

“I like your boots,” the girl says again, and points her lame wand toward my feet. I’m wearing a design I created back in less bleak times. I got the originals from the consignment shop I worked at after school. The boots were too big around the calf, so I slit the leather in the back and then attached brass snaps, with matching ones across the front.

I remember, faintly, the rush of joy I felt painting on the blue and yellow swirls. Mom had wanted me to make her a matching pair. But I never got around to it.


“Do you like my shoes?” The girl swings out her tiny legs, displaying a pair of sparkly pink flip-flops. Hideous.

I shrug.

“They’re magic,” she says.

“Uh-huh.” Time to turn up the frost. This conversation isn’t going anywhere good. I grab the earbud from my lap.

“Can you read my book to me?” The girl holds up the picture book resting on her tray table. She does that sad wide-eyed thing little kids do to get their way. It never works with me. “Pleeease?” She thrusts the book in my face. Annoying.

Even more annoying, I hear myself say, “Sure, whatever.”

I sigh. Stuck.

I open the book to its first cheery page and predict that this is not going to be a story that sweeps me away. Sure enough, it’s one of those sappy girl-lost-in-the-woods, helped-by-the-friendly-talking-animals, magic-spells-broken, evil-ogre-defeated stories. With the traditional but irritating and most dishonest final sentence ever created in the history of literature:

“And she lived happily ever after.”

I do my best to inject sarcasm and disapproval into my voice as I read these last words, because even if I’m not going to get anything out of the experience, at least I’ll have passed on some wisdom to the younger generation. But the girl just smiles the satisfied smile of one who is hearing the same beloved story for the billionth time. Clearly, I’m going to have to spell it out for her.

“It doesn’t really work like that, you know,” I tell her. “Things don’t end happily.”

“Yes, they do.”

I shrug and hand the book back to her. “You’ll learn,” I say. I tried. Someday she’ll look back on this conversation and remember she was warned.

“It wouldn’t be in the book if it wasn’t true,” she says firmly, like she’s teaching me some lesson.

I don’t answer. Some people would rather live in a fairy tale.

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Well done to Kathy McCullough.
R. Lesner
Delaney was a great bad girl who rebelling against the world who finds herself changed by her surroundings and her ability to cause positive change in others.
S. Power
Hey, folks, maybe wishes do come true if you work hard enough.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Lesner on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is just wonderful! It is a book about friendship, love, and of course magic. It is so refreshing to read a book that inspires and enlightens you without having a "mean" antagonist in it. The only antagonist is what the main character, Delaney, does to herself, and luckily this character is so smart and wonderful, she learns quickly to be the best version of herself with her talents. The book is sure to inspire you to take good care of yourself at all times, to keep open, tolerant and patience to your family and friends. I highly recommend this book to tweens, teens AND adults. It'll give you a good dose of magic which will be yours to keep forever. Well done to Kathy McCullough. I look forward to reading more of your books. You have a talent that won over my heart and I'm sure will do the same to all your readers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Power TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough follows Delaney who moves to California to live with her estranged father, a famous life coach after the death of her mother. Delaney feels blinded by the sunshine and positive attitudes in California and longs to go back to New Jersey when she finds out a secret. Her father is a fairy godmother, able to make transformations to fulfill wishes and Delaney may be one too.

I loved this book. It was cute and quirky and filled with great characters and a bit of magic. Delaney was a great bad girl who rebelling against the world who finds herself changed by her surroundings and her ability to cause positive change in others. There is just a bit of romance but it was of equal importance to the relationship that develops between Delaney and her father and her friends. I loved this book, found it impossible to put down and finished it quickly.

Appropriateness: This is a light and fluffy book with no adult content. The romance is sweet and just hinted at. There is a fantastic message of being oneself while not shutting others out. I would recommend this to readers 11+
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Step Into Fiction on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
Cover Time! I loved how it accurately portrays Delaney. She's a tough girl who's in a new area and feels so out of place. She knows that she's stuck with her dad, but she just can't help but want to go back to her old life, her old friends.

I loved this book. Delaney Collins just lost her mom. We don't know why, but we do know that her mom was sick; from the sound of things I'm assuming cancer. She has to move from her home of New Jersey to where her father, Dr. Hank, lives. Dr. Hank is a life coach who sells a lot of books on the subject and is all khakis and tucked in polo shirts. Delaney, who wears leather boots and rocks a "don't talk to me" kinda vibe, hates him, as she has for most of her life. You see, perfect Dr. Hank rarely came to see her, rarely talked to her, and we don't know why.

Flash forward a little to Andrea, one of Dr. Hanks clients. Delaney gets suspicious when Dr. Hank has to go over to Andrea's house to help her. In the middle of the night, the first night that Delaney is there in fact. So she sneaks along the second time Dr. Hank has to go see Andrea. And she sees her dad transform Andrea from mess to glam. What?

Yeap, dear old Dr. Hank is an f.g. A fairy godfather. Delaney doesn't believe it at first, but when she makes apple pie filling fall from the sky right onto a skater kid in school a few days later she realizes that she too is an. f.g.

I loved how this book was from Delaney's pov. She's hilarious and a little prissy, but I love her. I adore how she designs her own boots and how she grows throughout the novel. Flynn, is amazing. Can't wait for book 2.

Reviewed by Saleana @StepIntoFiction
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Expect a pleasant experience reading this YA novel even if you are not Y. I found the craft of the writer to be extraordinary for a first novel in every way. Beautiful use of language, story telling at it's best, with a Jane Austin twist at the end that left me very satisfied. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
When we first meet Delaney Collins, she is on a plane headed to move in with her father, not something she is most excited about. We learn that her mother has recently passed away, and now her only option is to move in with dear, old dad or "Dr. Hank," as Delaney calls him. Delaney is pretty down on her luck and only wants to find a way to escape, until she learns a secret that will change her life forever. Her father is an f.g. or better known as, a fairy godmother. Hesitant at first, Delaney soon embraces what she has learned and is hot on the trail to see if she has the powers of an f.g. as well!

Delaney Collins is one of the most witty, yet cynical characters that I have read in awhile. Delaney is a big part of the pleasure of reading this book. She has a lot of brainy one liners, which I was constantly writing in my notebook. Her character is artistic and way too intelligent for her own brain! There were small added details about Delaney that made her all the more real to me. For example, she has a thing for black boots and she often gets creative with them and adds new designs to her boots and even roller skates, this is why you see black boots on the cover. Delaney is going through a spell of grief and devastation when we meet her, but even then I still love her character.

This story is just plain cute! I loved the magical aspects that were woven in and I don't think I have read very many fairy godmother retellings. We always get the Cinderella stories, but never the fairy godmothers. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, but one could argue that Delaney is in fact a Cinderella character! This was like a coming of age story in a way, but the whole time Delaney was trying to get a hold of her new f.g. powers and learns to use her magic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Kathy is a novelist and screenwriter living in Southern California. She grew up in Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania, and attended college at Cornell University and grad school at Columbia University. You can find out more about her at

You can also find her on Facebook at
or follow her on Twitter @kathymccullough.

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