Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"And with that, Quentin is being rescued from being pinned to the wall by Professor March.
"Everything he does, he by the skin of his teeth. Part of me wants to dislike him so much.
"But another part... a very insistent part... tells me that there's more to him than I'm seeing.
"That part is getting traction. But it's annoying getting all the other parts in the process.
"... Reality slips a gear and starts idling in neutral.
"I can't move. Nothing moves.
"Out of nowhere he appears.
"No fanfare. One moment not there. The next moment there.
"Hi is in no rush. Time passes.
"How much time I can't say. I will learn later that it's hours.
"Whatever he is, he's not human.
"Or, perhaps, not human anymore.
"Amanda's voice. Mangling her Cretan Mycenaean dialect. But it gets the job done.
"More time passes. But how to count time when your gaze doesn't change?
"And just like that... (just like what, Alice? If anything is sui generis, it's this.)
"... He's gone."
And just like that, with that, Alice's fellow pupil Amanda at the hidden Breakbills University for magicians has been eviscerated and poor Professor March appears to be lying in a puddle of his own piss...
Where's young Harry Potter, I mean Timothy Hunter, to save the day when you need him? Well, Potter was last spotted treading the boards and Hunter's got more than enough of his own academic problems...
Fortunately we don't need them because we have Alice and Quentin, little more than occult aspirants at this point, but soon about to get involved in some very serious wiz-biz along with their frenemy Penny.
Actually, whilst there might be a nod to a certain young mage or two with the hidden school, this whole work is an amusing and clever meta-warping twist and very deliberate nod to several fantasy works, not least The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
In fact, the work itself has also undergone a neat little sleight of hand during adaptation by Lilah LUMBERJANES: INFERNAL COMPASS Sturges from the original prose novel by Lev Grossman. For the original (trilogy, this merely being the first book) tells the story from the viewpoint of Quentin Coldwater, whereas this graphic novel adaptation recounts events as experienced by the other main character Alice Quinn.
I guess for fans of the hugely popular original material, and indeed TV show adaptation which is now in its fifth series, it is a lovely bit of legerdemain. For people utterly unaware of the source material, or the TV show, like myself, all one can do is judge it on its own mystical merits, and I really rather enjoyed it.
Here's the publisher to cast a spell on you with their mystical mumblings...
"Alice Quinn is manifestly brilliant, and she has always known that magic is real. During her years at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, she rises to the top of her class, falls in love with Quentin Coldwater, and witnesses a horrifically magical creature invade their dimension.
It's not soon after graduation when Alice, Quentin, and their friends set their sights on the idyllic setting of Fillory: a place thought to only live in the pages of their favourite children's books. A land where magic flows like rivers... but in this magical realm nothing is what it seems to be, and something darker lies behind the spellbinding facade.
It is in the darkness where Alice will discover her true calling and her life, and those friends, forever changed."
This is well crafted fantasy which pays homage to and plays gleefully with its inspirations. I thought Pius Bak was very good too artistically. It wouldn't look out of place in a Sandman Universe title and there are hints of Peter HIGHEST HOUSE Gross and P. Craig GRAVEYARD BOOK Russell going on in there stylistically and in terms of the colour palette.