Category: Fantasy

Dec 02

Thoughts on Revisiting Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Fantasy, Readalong, Young Adult Fiction 7

Hallo, Bookworms!

Imagine that in a Hagrid accent, would you? I’m still working my way through the Harry Potter series along with my favorite people at The Estella Society. POTTER BINGE! I’ve just finished up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and as you know, I have some thoughts, reactions, and the like. Get your time turners ready… HERE WE GOOOOOOO!

prisonerofazkaban
  • Seriously, Errol. Sometimes I wonder if he’s not so much decrepit as the Drunk Uncle of the owl world…
  • I know assume that Molly home schooled her brood before they went to Hogwarts, but I have to wonder why, once Ginny left, she didn’t decide to get a job outside the home to help with the finances. I don’t suppose she had a whole lot of time to do so between Ginny going off to school and the second rise of Voledemort… And I really have no idea what the wizarding job market was like at the time, but the state of their Gringott’s vault makes me want to cry… Then again, I think they had chickens and stuff. She was probably like the original witch homesteader. I bet she grew organic mandrakes and kept livestock and whatnot. STOP JUDGING MOLLY WEASLEY, KATIE. SHE IS THE BEST.
  • Speaking of drunk uncle, how’s about drunken Aunt Marge? The worst.
  • The Knight Bus sounds like a dreadful way to travel, all things considered.
  • Chocolate! Cures what ails you… Especially if dementors are what ails you.
  • Hermione could give any internet skeptic a run for their money. Girl throws serious shade at Divination.
  • Snape as Granny Longbottom. It never gets old!
  • The Great Hall has 12 Christmas trees. #LifeGoals
  • Nose biting teacups are truly a gift for all occasions.
  • Malfoy’s glee at having Buckbeak executed is troubling. Isn’t cruelty to animals a sign of a sociopath?
  • I GET that Snape hated James, but what kind of person bad mouths an orphan’s parents to their face? Seriously douchey move, Snape. Probably why I can barely muster any sympathy for the man. Ever. Besides. Everyone knows that the best revenge is making the child of your enemy think you’re cool. Duh.
  • Lupin’s guilt trip game is ON POINT.
  • HERMIONE SMACKS MALFOY! BEST!
  • Lee Jordan’s Quidditch commentary kills me.
  • The rules of the time turner hurt my brain. For one, I keep getting Cher stuck in my head. Plus, how far back in time can it go? What happens if you DO change things? Why couldn’t they have used a time turner to stop Voldemort and/or reverse any number of unfortunate deaths? I’m just going to have to put my trust in Rowling that there are REASONS but they’re very dense like tax law and I just shouldn’t think too hard about it.
  • Oh Prongs. Remember that I time I told y’all about my patronus at great length?
  • A note to all four of my godchildren: I repeat! I WILL NEVER GET MYSELF LOCKED UP IN AZKABAN AND LEAVE YOU ALONE IN THE BIG BAD WORLD! (Jack, Nathan, Natalie, and Emma I love you all to tiny bits.)
  • “You think the dead we love every truly leave us?” I’m not crying. YOU’RE CRYING.

The further along we go in this project, the less sense I’m making. No matter, I’m having all the fun. How about you, Bookworms? Anybody else think that the Weasley’s old decrepit owl Errol is a fraud and a drunk?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

 

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Nov 24

Thoughts on Revisiting Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Fantasy, Readalong, Young Adult Fiction 10

Great Maggoty Haggis, Bookworms!

I’m trying to work that phrase into my lexicon because I like coming up with alternatives to swearing. Not that I have a problem with profanity, because I don’t, I just prefer my language to be a bit more colorful. The Harry Potter books never fail to supply me with entertaining phrases. Which brings me to the point! I’m still trucking along with The Estella Society’s #PotterBinge re-read-along and it has been delightful. Since I had so much fun logging my thoughts with The Sorcerer’s Stone, I thought I’d continue the concept with Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets. Ready?!

chamberofsecrets
  • Oh Dobby! The self flagellation! He’d fit right in to one of those penance parades they had in The Seventh Seal. Yeesh.
  • I love me some lock-picking Weasley twins.
  • I am still desperately ashamed that GIlderoy Lockhart was a Ravenclaw. Ugh.
  • Ginny almost forgot that blasted diary at The Burrow! If only she’d left the darn thing!
  • For some reason imagining a pair of 12 year old boys driving a car on the road seems much more insane than a pair of 12 year old boys flying an enchanted car through the air…
  • Fred and George never got caught with the car despite having taken it out a number of time. It proves, once again, that they are criminal masterminds working for the greater good and general mischief.
  • Oh, Errol. You poor, ridiculous owl.
  • I want to punch Lockhart ALL. THE. TIME.
  • The earmuffs in the mandrake scene made me think of Scream Queens and that girl who always wears fancy designer earmuffs. Apparently there will be a scripted reason for her doing so at some point, but since the actress is Carrie Fisher’s daughter (!!!) they thought the Princess Leia homage would be funny.
  • Alright, you guys. Cornish Pixies. Is it not more correct to call them “piskies” in the Cornish dialect? Did they get translated to “pixies” in the American version or is it like that in the British version too?
  • Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeves! That punk never made it into the movies, but I forgot that he was the one who broke the vanishing cabinet Draco ended up fixing to cause all that trouble later on!
  • Even the Hufflepuff ghost is cheery. Go out and hug a Hufflepuff! I bet they give the best hugs.
  • “Great Maggoty Haggis” is my new catch phrase. (See? I’m already putting it into practice.)
  • Hermione steals from Snape. Classic. Badass.
  • Dear Ginny, since when are fresh pickled toads in any way romantic?
  • “When in doubt, go to the library”- sound advice.
  • Dude, Harry can put together crazy clues about the Basilisk and reflective surfaces but it takes him FOREVER to figure out that Tom Riddle is up to no good.
  • Who does wizard laundry if house elves can’t handle clothes? I have a hard time imagining Narcissa Malfoy scrubbing anyone’s under drawers… This has been bothering me for years.
  • A pajama feast is obviously the best way to end a story.

There we have it, Bookworms. My thoughts on the second installment of the #PotterBinge. Is anybody else playing along? I’m seriously pondering this laundry issue, I’d love to hear your theories on it. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Nov 16

Thoughts On Revisiting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Fantasy, Readalong, Young Adult Fiction 23

Happy Monday Bookworms!

I know, I know. It sucks to start a brand new work week or school week or whatever. Heck, I’ve got a Monday fever, and the only cure is HARRY POTTER. I’ve been blogging for over 3 years and have talked about Harry and the gang plenty, but I’ve never done any sort of official review of the books. When some of my favorite bloggers at The Estella Society (Heather, Andi, Amanda, I love all your faces) announced a Harry Potter re-read-along, it seemed like kismet. There are few things that are guaranteed to lift my mood the way Harry Potter can. Since everyone already knows all the HP things (and if you don’t you probably don’t give a figgy pudding about spoilers) I thought I’d forgo official reviews with synopses and such and focus on my raw reactions upon re-visiting these books. Without further ado, I present my rambling thoughts on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

sorcerersstone
  • Dumbledore, I love you, I really, truly do, but WHO LEAVES A BABY ON A DOORSTEP?! Does the Wizarding World have any sort of Child Protective Services? Seriously, Ministry of Magic, you need to get your act together.
  • Harry didn’t even have a library card when he lived with the Dursleys. SOB.
  • “Hamburger restaurants” are mentioned repeatedly. I suppose in England not every single restaurant in the history of ever serves hamburgers? #cluelessAmerican
  • “I don’t like cats. They make me sneeze.” ME TOO, HAGRID!
  • Although, if Hagrid is allergic to cats, does that mean he can’t be around Professor McGonagall? Or perhaps only when she’s a cat? Are animagi hypoallergenic?
  • Dude, why are Olivander’s eyes silver? That’s pretty friggin creepy.
  • Molly Weasley is the BEST EVER. (And I’m so glad I named my car after her.)
  • I know that I have the American version of HP, as the British version was The Philosopher’s Stone (not Sorcerer’s), but it made me wonder. In the original when they referred to Harry’s hair, did they use the term “bangs” or “fringe”?
  • Rats are not on the approved pet list. Scabbers being banned from Hogwarts from the get-go would have been helpful, no? Hindsight being 20/20 and all. Cats, owls, and toads are the only pets mentioned in the supply list…
  • I WANT A WEASLEY SWEATER! Seriously, I can think of nothing more wonderful than opening up a lumpy, magically knit, monogrammed sweater for Christmas. Does Molly have an official fan club? Because I would join it.
  • Baby dragons thrive on a mixture of brandy and chicken blood, which explains why dragons raid liquor stores and chicken coops in equal measure. (I can’t back up that last part, but it makes me laugh.)
  • I wish my final exams had consisted of making pineapples tap dance. I would have owned that challenge. There’d have been sequins, you guys.
  • I get goosebumps EVERY SINGLE TIME Neville gets awarded those last ten points and Gryffindor wins the house cup! Oh Neville!

I’m kind of surprised by my reactions too. I mean, not a single ode to Hermione? I do love her, she just didn’t make my notepad for some reason. Oh well. The series is young. We have six more books in which I can fawn over everyone. Siiigh. It’s like visiting old friends.

Talk to me Bookworms! Do YOU think animagi are hypoallergenic? And do you think it’s advised that pregnant dragons drink alcohol, seeing how beneficial it is to the hatched offspring? I mean, if they’re not mammals then they don’t nurse, so what would wild dragon babies be eating? Chickens would be easy enough to come by, but brandy? In remote Romanian mountains? Hmmm….

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. All proceeds will likely fund my expanding collection of Ravenclaw paraphernalia. #HOUSEPRIDE*

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Aug 27

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 13

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I know I’m constantly shoving book recommendations in your faces, but I like to think we have a symbiotic relationship. I mean, when one of my friends says “OMG Katie, read this book right now” I’ll do it… Eventually. Case in point! My friend Ash told me that I needed to read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I totally did. Seriously, it was in a timely fashion and everything. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

theredqueenMare Barrow is a 17 year old “Red” girl from a poor working class background. She lives in a society where there are two classes of people. Reds like Mare and her family are ordinary folks. They put their pants on one leg at a time and bleed red. They’re also second class citizens because some quirk of evolution has created a group of people with superhuman powers who actually bleed silver. They’re called “Silvers,” natch, and they got a little drunk on their god-like powers and subjugated all the normal folk. The Reds think this sucks, because it does, but it’s pretty tough to win a fight against someone who can manipulate metal or hop into your brain and take over. Mare and her fellow Reds can only look forward to a life of poverty- if they live long enough, that is. All Reds are conscripted to fight in an endless war on behalf of the Silvers once they turn 18, assuming they aren’t already doing something useful for society (ie sewing fancy clothes for the Silvers. Silvers like pretty things.) After a chance encounter, Mare finds herself employed in the Silver Palace, surrounded by demi-gods and with an unexplained power of her own. Let’s just say that being Mare gets a whole heck of a lot more complicated from there.

Alright you guys. This book is the start of yet another trilogy in the glut of YA dystopias on the market. It combined a number of elements I recognized from Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy (review of book 1, as I didn’t finish the series) and The Hunger Games Trilogy. That said, Red Queen was different enough to catch my attention, and not in an eye-roll-y way. Well, except for this love quadrangle thing that was going on, but I feel like that’s par for the course in these sorts of books so I’m willing to overlook it for a hot minute. The book got under my skin and the characters stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio narration and it was excellent? Perhaps I’d have been less engaged if I’d done a strict eyeball read, I don’t know. Still, I think I might give book 2 a whirl and see where it takes me. If YA dystopias are your jam, Red Queen is definitely not to be missed. It may have thawed the heart of even this cranky skeptic.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If you could have the power to manipulate an earthly element, what would you pick? (I’m torn between water nymph skills and the power to do lots of back flips. I bet there’s a Silver whose only talent is doing back flips and their parents are terribly disappointed by it, but I think it would be awesome.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 10

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford

Audio Books, Fantasy 20

Greetings Bookworms!

Have you ever wanted to jump right into a book? Like dive into the pages and chill with your favorite characters? My latest read offered just that opportunity! I’ve had people recommending The Eyre Affair to me for years and only just got around to it. I’m kicking myself for this procrastination now because this book was the quirkiest little pile of literary geekery I’ve read in a good long while.
eyreaffair

The Eyre Affair takes place in an alternate reality version of 1985 England. Thursday Next is a Special Operations agent working in literary detection. Special Operations encompasses some zany departments including the Chronoguard who jump around through time making sure miscreants don’t try to rewrite history. Performances of Richard III are performed audience inclusion style a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cloning is totally a thing, so forget tiny dogs in handbags, dodos are the trendiest pets on the block. Though the literary detection agency tends to be a bit heavier on paper pushing than field work, Thursday manages to get herself entangled in danger and mayhem.

This book was so gloriously geeky I want to unabashedly recommend it to everyone I meet. However, I think that in order to really enjoy the novel, you have to have read Jane Eyre (review). It wouldn’t hurt to have read some other classics as well, but since so much of the plot of this book revolves around Jane Eyre, not being familiar with the original story puts the reader at a huge disadvantage. Honestly, though, if you haven’t read Jane Eyre you should. I know classics can be indimidating, but I found it to be much less arduous than I’d imagined and just so darn good! The Eyre Affair is a version of stylized fantasy that won’t work for everyone, but for the right audience it’s amazing. I am that audience. Odds are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re that audience, too. Go forth and enjoy!

Talk to me Bookworms! If you could literally jump into a book, which book would you choose? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 14

MOAR Audio Book Mini Reviews

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fairy Tales, Fantasy 16

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

I’ve been reading with both my eyes and my ears this summer. Reading with your ears is totally a thing that counts. I REFUSE to accept that audio books don’t count as reading. Poppycock! Of course, not every book I read (with eyes or ears) is something I feel like writing a whole review about, so today we’re taking audio books in bite sized pieces. Om nom nom!

audiominireviews

 

1. I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg- I normally adore Fannie Flagg, but I’ve got mixed feelings about this book. The main character spends a good portion of the novel plotting out her suicide only to continually put it off to tie up loose ends in the land of the living. The story was cute, I guess, but I worry that it was a little too flippant with some really heavy issues.

2. The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman- Well thank heaven they finally explored the niffin situation! That has been bothering me since The Magicians (review). I thought this final installment of the series tied things up rather nicely, without being too neat about it. I’m still worried about Lev Grossman’s fox fixation, though. Dude. For real.

3. Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire- You know how when you read original fairy tales they’re way creepier than you remember the Disney-fied versions being? Multiply that factor by 5 when Gregory Maguire gets his mits on Snow White, and you’ll have Mirror Mirror. In Maguire’s version of events, historical figure Lucrezia Borgia is cast in the role of the wicked queen with some gratuitous sexualization thrown in for good measure. I can’t help but think poor Lucrezia’s legacy has been getting the Cleopatra treatment for far too long. Stacy Schiff, will you rectify this for me please? (Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff was most enlightening! Anybody have a recommendation for a good Lucrezia Borgia biography?)

Talk to me, Bookworms! What have y’all been reading lately? Eye reading and ear reading both count here!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 21

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Audio Books, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Mythology 15

Dearest Bookworms,

Have you ever heard people claim they’d love to have Morgan Freeman narrate their lives? Morgan Freeman is a whole lot of wonderful, I’ll grant you (March of the Penguins, holla!) However. I’m convinced people find the decision to nominate Morgan Freeman as their life’s narrator such a simple one is because they’ve yet to listen to Neil Gaiman read one of his books aloud. Thanks to Scribd, I’ve been audio-booking more than ever and one of my first selections was Stardust by the man himself. (Neil Gaiman, not Morgan Freeman. I don’t know if Morgan Freeman writes books. He might, he’s probably good at everything and spends his free time teaching poverty stricken children how to play the violin, but I digress…)

stardustStardust is a whimsical fairy tale following a young Tristran Thorne. He lives in the town of Wall, England which lies on the border between this world and Faerie. Tristran spends his time going about his daily life all Victorian style and pining for the town beauty, Victoria Forester. One evening Tristran and Victoria see a shooting star. Victoria tells Tristran she will marry him if he retrieves the star for her, and so he sets out on a quest to find it. Unbeknownst to Tristran, his visit to Faerie will be something of a homecoming, as he’s the product of a tryst between his mortal father and an enslaved faerie princess. His adventures beyond the wall include battling witches, elf lords, curses, magic, and mayhem of the best kind.

I have heard tell that the movie version of Stardust is better than the book (blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s been known to happen.) Clearly I need to see this movie, because the book was utterly charming with just the right amount of Gaiman-style darkness. Fans of Neil Gaiman, fairy tales, and good old fashioned quests ought to pick this up. And then probably see the movie, because it’s apparently awesome.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have any of you seen a shooting star? Meteor shower? A plane you pretended was a shooting star just so you could make a wish? (Seriously, I cannot be the only one to have done that plane thing…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 30

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Audio Books, Fantasy, Frightening 31

Greetings Bookworms!

I love this time of year. Autumn and pumpkins and baked goods and Halloween? Fall as a season is clearly a conspiracy of the universe to distract us mere mortals from the fact that WINTER IS COMING. (Thanks a lot, Ned Stark!) It’s a wonderful time of year to curl up with a book (or ten) and a nice warm cup of something nice and warm. (Cider? Cocoa? Coffee? Tea? Insert your beverage of choice.) Some books just go better with the season than others, though, and Neil Gaiman is a force to be reckoned with.

theoceanattheendofthelaneI recently finished listening to The Ocean at the End of the Lane as an audio book. It was narrated by Neil Gaiman himself. Holy crap, you guys! The man’s voice is so delicious I may never physically read another one of his novels. I just want to listen to Neil Gaiman read me bedtime stories. I swear that’s not as creepy as it sounds…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane begins with a middle-aged man returning to his hometown to attend a funeral. He is mysteriously drawn to a farm at the end of the road on which he once lived and is suddenly inundated with memories.

Forty years ago when our narrator was a 7-year-old boy, a boarder who was living in his home committed suicide. The suicide set off a chain of events both supernatural and unbelievable. The man begins to remember his friendship with the mysterious and remarkable Lettie Hempstock and her curious mother and grandmother.

I want to say Neil Gaiman is the master of this sort of speculative, supernatural, dreamlike fiction, but that seems wrong. Gaiman’s work is so unique that it’s practically a genre unto itself. Every time I finish one of his books, I feel like I’m waking up from a bizarre dream, equal parts nightmare and fantasy. If that description appeals to you in the slightest, go find the nearest Gaiman novel and start reading.

Tell me, Bookworms. Do you often remember your dreams? I find that mine are odd, vivid, and typically anxious. I’m wondering if that’s normal or if I’ve got more problems than I imagined. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I can only hope it won’t present itself as a coin stuck in my throat in the middle of the night…*

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Oct 23

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Flowers, Romance 20

Greetings Bookworms!

The weather is changing and it’s making me miss my flowers already. I still have mums out, but it’s not the saaaaaaaame. Shortly after having to pull out my summer annuals, I was perusing NetGalley (a dangerous pastime under the best of circumstances) and ran across The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen. I saw comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman and simply could not help myself. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. May I be stricken with a wicked case poison ivy if I lie in the following review.*

The Night Garden by Lisa Van AllenIs there anything better than an enchanted garden? Lisa Van Allen draws a gorgeous picture of pastoral upstate New York. Pennywort Farms boasts a lovely garden maze that seems to be imbued with magical properties that give visitors clarity on their problems. A little magical realism never hurt anyone! More likely to hurt someone is the beautiful and enigmatic Olivia Pennywort.

Olivia has SECRETS. Despite welcoming boarders into her farm as a matter of course, Olivia keeps everyone at arm’s distance. Her decision to remain aloof becomes more difficult when her childhood friend and adolescent flame Sam Van Winkle comes back to town. The two are (of course) drawn to each other, but there are some significant barriers (and histamines) standing in the way of their happy ending.

You guys, I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down, and I stayed up far too late to finish it. On a work night. Thank heaven for coffee, AMIGRIGHT? Magical realism can be very hit or miss for me, but the combination of love story, garden-y goodness, and mystical whimsy hit all the right notes. I particularly liked some of the weird science/magic fusion elements that went on. I don’t want to spoil it all for you, but if you’re at all interested, take a trip into The Night Garden!

Talk to me, Bookworms. The Night Garden spends a lot of time talking about the garden maze’s ability to provide visitors with clarity on their problems. What helps you work out your dilemmas? Asking for a friend…

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Oct 06

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Audio Books, Coming of Age, Fantasy 25

Pick a card, any card, Bookworms!

Actually, don’t. I would be a hot steaming pile of horrible if I tried to do card tricks. Depressing though it is that I lack actual magical powers as well as the manual dexterity to perform sleight of hand, I still dig books about magic. If it happens to be October, all the better! I listened to the audio version of The Magicians by Lev Grossman to help get me in the spirit of the Halloween season.

The MagiciansQuentin Coldwater is a genius, but at 17, he’s got a serious case of the mopies (I can relate, yo!) He’s obsessed with a series of novels about children who visit a magical land (think Narnia), but he tries to play it off as nostalgia. Quentin is minding his own teen angst business when he finds himself being tested for admittance into a legit, elite, magical college. That’s right. It’s sort of like Hogwarts for the older set. A little less whimsy, a lot more booze, sex, and apathy.

The Magicians had the same darkly mystical tone as The Night Circus (review) which was a delightful surprise. The book was darker than I had anticipated, and it dabbled in some heavy philosophy. When you have immense magical power, the fulfilling stuff of life no longer presents a challenge. Grossman’s magical world doesn’t have the structure that Rowling’s does- magicians are left to their own devices wandering the ordinary world. A few magicians will go in for charitable endeavors or research, but mostly they wander aimlessly searching for meaning, as they have no need for careers to provide them with money or purpose. It was this thoughtful analysis of the human condition that had me loving the first 2/3 of this book.

Then? Grossman went full Narnia on me. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the book now. I’m a little less excited to finish the series, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it. There are a lot of loose ends I would like to have wrapped up, so I’ll probably get to it eventually. It was a mixed bag for me, but if you liked The Chronicles of Narnia, The Night Circus, and His Dark Materials , it’s definitely worth sampling.

One of the major reasons I related to Quentin and his longing for a fictional world is my own (perhaps unhealthy) obsession with Harry Potter. Is there another literary world you desperately wish you could escape into?

*If You make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Like magic. Only not.*

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