I love a good fantasy read. It’s just the perfect thing to pick up and leaf through with a cup of tea. You’re wearing warm slippers, you have a cat curled up in your lap and everything is right in the world. The issue is that fantasy is a massive category. There are lots of books that fit into this category, so I’m going to specialize and focus on magic. I’m talking sparks out of a wand or some mumbled gibberish…magic. So, just in time for March and spring break, here are some marvelous magical reads!
1: ‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman
If I was to get a tattoo it’d be based around this book. It’s one of my absolute favorites, and one of the few adult magic based books I’ve read. I’m going to be honest; I’m a YA girl through and through, but I picked up this book and my life was changed. It’s about a guy named Quintin who has always been incredibly gifted at schoolwork but struggles with depression, especially coming up on his senior year of high school, and he only finds solstice in a children’s fantasy novel similar to “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Yet, during an interview for a prestigious college, he discovers that magic is real and is allowed to take an entrance exam into a college for magicians. Unlike “Harry Potter,” or any of the other novels in this space, where magic is based just on luck, the magical elements in “The Magicians” is solely based on skill and intelligence. Quintin is able to get in and all of his magical hijinks fill up a trilogy worth of material. What I like best about this series is the idea that magic comes from pain or sorrow. It’s their ability to take depression, pain or sorrow and make it into something beautiful; they fought against, or through, the odds and the universe rewarded that. It’s really a fantastic read. Also, side note, this has been made into a good TV show… well, good for a couple of seasons. I have stopped watching it because the show writers missed the mark hugely for the end of season four, but literally just read the book. Then after you read it, email me, we’ll talk and I’ll buy you a coffee.
2: ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell
So… I already talked about this book, as I was reading it when I visited the Silent Book Club and then I proceeded to finish it in one sitting later that evening. It’s a really, really good book. It’s based on the “Harry Potter” type universe, where a young boy named Simon Snow is the Chosen One of his universe. Snow struggles with this label as he doesn’t feel like he fits this mold at all. He’s awkward and traditionally quite bad at magic. All he seems to have is a whole lot of power that he doesn’t know how to use, a girlfriend he doesn’t really like and a roommate who seems to hate him enough to want him dead for all seven years of their schooling together. Yet, none of this seems to really bother Simon Snow because, as the Chosen One, he’s probably going to die soon with a war with the Humdrum on the horizon. There are currently two novels out in this series, but the third one is due to hit shelves at the end of this year. So if you’re not someone who needs to read an entire series in one sitting, absolutely check this one out.
3: ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab
I thought this book was okay, at least the first one was. I think it deserves a place on this list because I know a lot of people really enjoyed it, but I just couldn’t connect deeply with the characters. There’s a lot of cool magical things happening here though. It’s all about a series of different worlds stacked together that are all different versions or colors of London depending on how much magic they have (red, grey, white and black). The Londons are separated from each other with only a special type of person, an Antari, able to travel between the worlds. Kell is one of the last Antaris and, thus, is forced to work for the King in Red London to pass messages and objects along to the other Kings. Yet, since he’s the only one able to travel through, he makes a side business as a smuggler and is forced to go through many obstacles when an exchange goes wonky in book one. I know, kind of confusing. It’s a trilogy, probably more adult than young adult and yeah, I didn’t love it. The magical elements are really quite fantastic here and the series actually gets better as the trilogy goes on and we focus more on the female character that Kell meets, Delilah Bard. Kell himself is a bit boring. All in all, maybe give it a chance and keep reading, I swear they get better.