Saturday Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Despite how some critics have classified it, this book isn’t trying to be a “grown-up” version of Harry Potter or Narnia. It’s something else. It’s that delightful union of genre readability and gorgeous style that is such a rare and wonderful thing: Hannah Tinti, William Gibson, Susanna Clarke, Jeff Vandermeer, John Crowley, Ursula K. LeGuin, Michael Chabon, and this book. This is the real thing, people. It’s storytelling that ignores the bounds of genre and just is. It also has a lot of really, really cool magic in it.

It’s about Quentin, a moody honors student from Brooklyn who gets diverted from his Princeton admissions interview into an admissions process for an entirely different kind of elite New England college: a school for magic.  And that’s where I’ll leave you because I don’t want to ruin any more of the surprises than I already have.

I have the urge fend off this book’s critics the way I’d protect a friend from mean people. But instead I’ll just praise it. It will take over your imagination and present images and experiences to you with hallucinatory clarity. It has heart, and will move you if you let it. It’s full of beautiful, haunting scenery. It takes risks. It’s funny, but also savage. The plot and its characters go to deep, unexpected places. It’s a radiant book. It is the granting of a wish I was delighted to discover I still had. Read it.

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