“The Magicians” Is Hogwartz for Existentialists, Narnia for Absurdists
“Look, who’s the talking bear here? Is it you? Are you the talking fucking bear? All right. So shut the fuck up.” —Quentin Coldwater
This line basically sums up how any twenty-something would react had they trained for several years in an elite magicians’ boarding school, spent a couple years boozing after realizing the real world didn’t have much demand for wizards, and then was dumped in a magical world of talking animals for no discernible purpose.
Forget Pottermore. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians is the grown-up Harry Potter had Potter been played by Holden Caulfield. It’s bleak. It’s funny. It’s heartbreaking, because for all its whimsical games of welters, its magical school with the bee mascot stitched into uniforms, and rumors of a ghost girl stuck in a mirror, it feels so real.
Things don’t go wrong because the magic makes these kids neurotic–the problem here is that these neurotic kids have magic.