Imagine Narnia, but written by George R.R. Martin. Then imagine Hogwarts, but with sex, drugs and even more dangerous magic.
These are the two settings for Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy. The books (starting with 2009’s The Magicians) follow the lives of a group of twenty-somethings studying at a magical university in New York. It’s no Hogwarts, where phoenix tears are always there to save you. People lose life and limb in the pursuit of magic. The magicians have mood disorders and drug addictions, and while they might be able to summon fireballs at will, they are far from well-adjusted.
It’s a fresh take on a pretty tired genre. More than that, the Magicians series works both as a fantasy story and as a comment on fantasy stories.
If you’ve ever wanted to go to Hogwarts but can’t stand their no-alcohol policy, check out The Magicians.