Welcome to a mysterious place where magic exists along with dark consequences for the undisciplined wizard. This world is unveiled to Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), an outcast obsessed with a fantasy novel series called Fillory. When a secret college for the gifted recruits him, Quentin discovers his obsession carries more truth than fiction. This is not Harry Potter’s Hogwarts for kids and young adults. This is The Magicians, a much darker tale surrounding Brakebills, a school for the gifted. It is a place where magicians with natural abilities can hone and develop their skills and secrets of real magic are unlocked.
Before officially being recruited by Brakebills, prospects must undergo a test. While Quentin passes the confusing test, his perfectionist friend and childhood crush, Julia Wicker (Stella Maeve), surprisingly fails. Following procedure, Brakebills goes to wipe Julia’s memory of the school for magicians, but is unknowingly unsuccessful.
Haunted by the knowledge that something bigger exists, Julia is recruited by a group of rogue magicians known as hedge witches. As Quentin sets out on a journey of self discovery and grow as a magician with a group of other Brakebills students, Julia is set on a much different path to understand a world that has caused her to be rejected for the first time in her life. It isn’t long before the multiverse is revealed and The Beast makes his disturbing appearance.
Some diehard Harry Potter fans and critics may see this as a Harry Potter knockoff. While I give J.K. Rowling credit for developing such a successful franchise, I never was able to find much interest in her famous series. Having been one to gravitate more towards darker stories within the horror, thriller, mystery and fantasy genres, Potter and friends seemed to lack a dark enough undertone for my taste. While most of the Harry Potter tales included dangerous outcomes to the misuse of magic, the majority of the stories were dialed down for a younger audience. This is less of a case for The Magicians where the misuse of magic has much deadlier outcomes.
Like the Harry Potter film series is based on the late 90’s/early 2000’s novels written by J.K. Rowling, The Magicians TV show is based on Lev Grossman’s trilogy (2009-2014). While instilling more adult themed elements of Harry Potter, this dark tale also incorporates elements from other well-known works of fantasy fiction including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
Combining elements from various works within the fantasy genre, The Magicians creates its own world. With occasional light humor, constant and gradual revelations are revealed of a mysterious world hidden in the dark shadows of reality. With Brakebills hidden by wards and spells in upstate New York, other groups are revealed to exist in the secret dark underbelly of magic. Individuals with knowledge of magic, many driven by their lust for power, not only make up groups of hedge witches, but another group known as the Free Trader Beowulf.
Depicting some brutal death scenes, psychological twists, drama and the corruption of humans and magic alike, The Magicians portrays the rebellious years of college without ignoring its corny fantasy side by infusing humor into its storyline. Through the drugs, spells, sex and booze, the Brakebills students uncover dark secrets while wrestling with their personal demons. Earning a 7.5 out of 10 on IMDb and a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, this is one series fans of horror should check out via Netflix.