Saturday, 6 March 2010
An adult mashup of Harry Potter and Narnia, with nods to a host of other fantasy tropes seasoning the mix (if that's not conflating my metaphors too much), Lev Grossman's The Magicians tells the story of Quentin, a young man who on the eve of his application to an Ivy League university instead becomes drawn into the magical world of Brakebills College (think Hogwarts with more sex and drugs). There he learns that not only is magic real, but he is one of the select few who can wield it.
The first half of the book details his travails in both learning magic and growing up through college, then the second half flips it to his adventures with his schoolmates through the Narnia/Wizard of Oz like land of Fillory, building to a dramatic and tragic denouement and sequel-hinting (?) coda.
The book is not without its flaws - the pace is at times rushed and the characters can seem unsympathetic - but overall this is an interesting attempt to remix familiar themes and, eschewing the more heroic tendencies of the genre, come up with something spiky, new and ultimately more human. Definitely worth a read.
Buy on Amazon USA
Buy on Amazon UK