Grossman, Lev. The Magicians

Quentin Coldwater has always expected magic.  He read the Fillory book series—similar to the Narnia series—long after most children had moved on, and was always subconsciously expecting to find his own passage to those magical lands.  So when he pushed through the tangled over-growth in an old abandoned lot one wintry New York City afternoon and found himself walking across a warm and summery sunlit field toward a huge stone edifice, he was startled, certainly, but not really surprised.  He wasn’t in Fillory, though—just upstate New York, but the building he was walking toward was Brakebills Academy, a school for magic. Quentin, it seemed,  had been specially chosen to take the entrance exam.  And thus began what should have been the adventure of Quentin’s life! Except that learning magic was actually a lot of hard work, and the students and faculty were really a lot like the students and faculty at any pretigious private university, and Quentin was never quite certain just what to do with his magical life after he and his friends graduated.  But when another former student showed up one day claiming that not only was Fillory a real place, but that he had a way for all of them to actually go there, the adventure of Quentin’s life really began. Except…

The Magicians has been compared to Narnia and to Harry Potter, but written for adults, and that’s a fair comparison.  All three share magic and wonder and an escape from the real world. But Grossman sets out to show us that even when magic is real, people are people and life is life and there is no magic spell for happiness. Engrossing and inventive.

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