The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Blurbed by Chris, Bridgewater Library
What if Hogwarts existed, but rather than an eager young English orphan, the accepted student was a Brooklyn-born high school senior and angsty slacker? And similarly, what if one could reach Narnia, but Aslan had been gone for centuries? And what if magic was real and could be performed by anyone, but required incredible amounts of discipline, training, and finger contortions, and it was more fun to get drunk and have sex?
This is the premise of “The Magicians”. Overeducated and underambitious Quentin is accepted into the prestigious Brakebills College of Magic, where he discovers that magic is real, hard, and has consequences that were never written in his favorite books.
Fans of the “British boarding school” type of magic school novels will likely be disappointed; Quentin rushes through five years of school with little detail given to the actual instruction, focusing on Q’s interaction with a small clique of fellow students; indeed, halfway through the book, he graduates and moves back to New York to live the life of a twentysomething with unlimited power.
Those lured in by the otherwise apropos comparisons to Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia may also be surprised — this is not a kids book. There’s blood, sex, death, drinking, drugs, debauchery, jealousy, and those niggling, petty human things.
Despite all that, the book will likely keep you hooked until the end (provided you can sympathise (like i do) with an angsty loser).