I was almost done with the first draft of THE GARDEN OF ABRACADABRA, my magic college book, when The Magicians hit the bestseller list. Naturally I read the book at once! Grossman, who reviews books for Time Magazine, is quite a literary stylist. His renditions of hideously difficult entrance exams, magical theory, and the tests and ordeals magic college students must endure are fascinating. His characters, however, come across as privileged, spoiled Ivy Leaguers, contemptuous of their wealthy parents, with ultimately no purpose for their magic education. Even Fillory, the magical realm they travel to, doesn’t amount to anything. After they graduate, they hold elaborate dinner parties and fall into bed. That’s it. By contrast, Abby Teller’s purpose for entering magic college is focused from the start: she must defend herself against ancient enemies of her father. She’s drawn into a murder investigation leading to clues of an ancient war between Humanity and Demonic Realms. And she must solve mysteries of her troubled past. She’s no trust-funder, she works as the superintendent of The Garden of Abracadabra, a magical apartment building on campus. But if you love all things magic, you’ll find The Magicians a good read and a cut above formulaic urban fantasy.

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