In a magnificent flourish, an elephant bursts forth from an old teapot; a small blackbird breaks out from behind the glass of a framed engraving; a bewildered girl emerges from behind a folding blue screen. This is how The Magicians awaken and leave the abandoned house in which they’ve slumbered for years. They are soon chased by the Huntress and the Clinker, a fiery mechanical cross between a lion and a dragon. This pursuit reaches a grand scale as it traverses a true carnival of settings—including a pastoral village, a blank realm “outside” the physical world, and a golden plain that serves as a battlefield.
Both children and adults will be dazzled by the intricate details and textures of the bold silk-screen-style illustrations. Blexbolex’s careful compositions evoke sweeping action and emotion, and one will want to constantly leave The Magicians open for display. With its jaunty blue text and cream-colored, double-layered pages, the physical printing of this volume is impeccable—among the best of the year—and accentuates the reading experience.
Translator Karin Snelson smoothly derives a folkloric cadence from the original French prose: As the blackbird “marauds through fields and orchards . . . the day passes deliciously” and later becomes “charged with a heavy nostalgia.” Elevated word choice and spirited phrasing give a timeless quality to this fantastic graphic novel, which muses upon mercy, change and possibility. Just as any gift should, The Magicians certainly lends itself to endless revisiting with its thematic and emotional depth.