The Magicians

by Lev Grossman
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I know this is an adult novel, but it just smacks of Harry Potter and Narnia so I thought I’d put it up here. High school senior Quentin is admitted to a college that focuses on magic (Hogwarts). A force of evil penetrates the campus during Quentin’s third year. After graduation, he and his friends figure out a way to travel to the land of Fillory, which was believed to be fictional and is the setting for most children’s favorite fantasy books (Narnia) – Quentin being more obsessed with them than most teenagers. In Fillory, they go on a quest to fight the evil force that had so shaped their school experience.

I thought some parts were well done, such as accounting for and dismissing common problematic issues in fantasy (whether you can take anything with you into the other world, time travel, etc) and the way Grossman patiently explains that this is real, this is what doing magic is like, unlike those other fantasy magic books where they make it look so easy. I also enjoyed the parts where Quentin and his friends turn into animals, thinking they were really insightful and realistic.

The sequel comes out this summer. I’m interested to see what happens, although Quentin isn’t that lovable a character. Sometimes he’s a real jerk, especially to his girlfriend who does become a sympathetic character. At the end of The Magicians, one of Quentin’s high school friends re-enters the picture so I’m curious to see how that goes. There is no indication of what the plot of the second book will be, other than supposedly revolving around a return trip to Fillory. A quick warning that this is what I call Harry Potter for grownups – taking place in college and beyond, there is plenty of drinking, swearing, and sex.

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