A novel that seems like it could have been born as a wisecrack on the back of a napkin, The Magicians embeds tropes from multiple fantasy series, role-playing games, and films into contemporary New York college life. Yet the book somehow sheds its inspirations to create an adventure novel that makes the magic we view as a retreat back to childhood fantasy seem a dangerous, powerful thing. It's the weight that Grossman gives his subject -- however wryly cast in its popular frame -- that gives the story the gravity of adulthood. Suddenly the threats are genuine and the temptations of power within adult life actually damning. The consequences of our desire to see the world though the naivety of a childhood relived become palpable -- thrilling, but ultimately exhausting, washing off the youth of fantasy for the sadness of escape. Only the very end of the novel seems to abandon this altered reality, dipping a bit too far into its own mystique. But The Magicians offers a wild ride to get there: emotional, touching in its romances, and capturing all the awkwardness of newfound adulthood. It's a fantasy novel unafraid to show a darker, more earthy side, and it's a take on the genre that shouldn't be missed.