There is something deeply satisfying to me about authors who take the most mundane things and make them magical (or sci-fi-y). Robin McKinley uses honey to perform magic in Chalice; Diana Wynne Jones uses everything from scolding to typewriters to musical instruments.
It’s easy, when writing, to fall back on the classics—and not necessarily bad, mind; the classics exist for a reason. We use cats and chalk and dancing naked in a circle on the midnight moor. A big benefit to this is that it’s shorthand for the reader. A writer doesn’t have to explain why a cauldron in a witch’s house might be relevant . . .
But wouldn’t it be interesting if there were a hairbrush in the fire instead? Could you do magic by brushing your hair?
(Dang it; Disney got that for Rapunzel, didn’t they? Point to them.)
How about by checking the mail? Through your job as a plumber? Via your phone calls during your secretarial work? Hand washing dishes?
I would totally read that.
(Or a book about a samurai vampire. Anyone have a recommendation?)