The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians is an adult, dark cross between Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. We get everything from magic school to magical wardrobes (or in this case, bushes and buttons) transporting people to different worlds to heroic journeys in Lev Grossman’s book and none to soon as the people who grew up with the Harry Potter series are no longer children and are ready to see further into the magical world. And its repercussions.

Quentin Coldwater, at age 17, still believes in magic. He still believes in the land of Fillory (the magical land of a beloved series of books he read as a child. much like Narnia). And most importantly, he is unhappy. When a strange series of events leads him to discover that not only is magic real, but within his grasp, he believes he has found what he’s always been searching for. Quentin is accepted into Brakesbill college, a secret magic college that teaches young magicians about using magic and its dangers, which Quentin soon learns are all too real.

But not even attending the only magic school in country can suppress his unhappiness for long. Graduation day comes and with no direction, Quentin falls into a destructive pattern of drinking and partying at the neglect of everything else, including his girlfriend, fellow magician Alice.

And when all hope of happiness seems lost, Quentin discovers the thing he’s been dreaming off all along: Fillory is real. He and his friends set off on an adventure in this new, magical world.

Grossman shows the dark side of magic and fantasy, the death, the loss, the injury. It’s not the glamorous, romanticized adventure of children’s books; it’s sacrifice and manipulation and a corruption of cherished childhood dreams.

My main critique of the book is that it drags on, takes a long time to get to where you know it’s going from the start. It takes a long time before Fillory and its promise of glory even enters the picture. Part of the problem is it seems like the book is disjointed, as though they would have been better served as a trilogy instead of a single, disjointed book. Somewhere near two-thirds of the way through, the story hits a lull. But not to worry, it picks up again with a bang. The last few pages at the end are a bit of a letdown (as it seems even most of the best books tend to be), but the long journey and the story behind it are anything but.

Try it for yourself: The Magicians: A Novel


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