I received this ARC from Sheri at A Novel Menagerie. I had been hearing a lot of buzz about this book so when the opportunity came to read and review it, I jumped at the chance.
Here Is The Synopsis From The Back Cover:
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A brooding and bookish senior in high school, living a predictable life in Brooklyn, he's still obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he unexpectedly gains admission to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.
He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze and boredom. And yet something is missing. Even though he learns to cast spells, transform into animals and gains powers he never dreamed of, magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would. After graduation he and his friends are pursuing a dissipated, hedonistic life in Manhattan when they make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin's fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream is a nightmare, with a shocking truth at its heart.
At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians is a sweeping epic that pushes the fantasy genre into uncharted territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman pays homage to the beloved fantasy novels of C. S. Lewis, T. H. White, and J. K. Rowling, and creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren't black and white, love and sex aren't simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
If you ever wanted to know what would happen if you combined Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Secret History into one book, this is probably the closest you will ever get.
The first 2/3 of the book deals with Quentin discovering he is a magician and the years he spends at Brakebill honing his skills. I found him then and throughout the book to be a little to annoying and depressing to really like him as a character. He falls in love, discovers friends, and finds himself to be in the elite group of students. He does all this in a rather superficial way, without really connecting on any visceral level with anyone other than himself. He doesn't really come out of his own head until it's too late and tragedy has already struck.
My other slight issue with the book was that the trip to Fillory didn't take long enough. It felt rushed and more like an afterthought, like the author forgot to add it in until the last minute. I would have loved to have more of this world. It was a twisted version of Narnia with a good dose of a dark Wonderland thrown in for good measure.
Now you may be surprised, after what I just wrote, by the fact I loved this book. This was one of those rare books that you don't need to like the characters in order to like the book. I found this to be due to the author's storytelling and writing style. They kept me engaged and caring about what happens to these characters, almost against my will.
I would encourage anyone with a passion for urban fantasy to add this to your TBR pile.