The seductive, dangerous truth to Fillory peeks through the cracks of the novel as Quentin immerses himself in the fantasy of college-life, only to confront the emptiness facing him at graduation. Once Quentin finds himself in Fillory, he is faced with the danger of fulfilled desires. Grossman plays with the rules and traditions of fantasy; like a cat eviscerating a mouse, he turns the norms of fantasy inside out, exposing the sharp points and decaying underside of our dream worlds. What happens when we are given the powers to access our hearts’ desire? What do we become?
As a child, I would press my hands against the glass of my bedroom mirror or walk into the row of coats lining my parents’ closet, hoping to vanish from the tail-chasing circle of every-day life into Wonderland or Narnia. I held the theory that if only I believed hard enough, I could step into my rightful place in one of these magic lands, away from this person trapped in the same petty, pointless life as every other person. But I was always careful never to believe completely. Complete belief would break the spell: either it wouldn’t work, and I would have to stop believing entirely, or it would work, and I would be forced to face the reality of my fantasy worlds. It was far safer to wander through the books and pretend. In The Magicians Lev Grossman breaks the safety of the book and forces us to walk through the wardrobe, to face the reality of our dreams. Be careful what you wish for; Lev Grossman will make you grow up. Here, have a nice glass of wine with your fantasy; it's full-bodied with a bit of a bite.