Lev Grossman’s much-hyped The Magicians trilogy came to an end last fall to great critical acclaim. I’ll admit to having complicated feelings about the series, but what I do love about these books is that in them, Grossman gives a lot of thought to why we fall in love with fantasy worlds — and whether we should hold on to them as we grow older, or let go. What is it about these worlds that makes them so riveting? The presence of magic? The chance to become a hero or heroine? The wacky but memorable characters? Or the sense that we have a destiny to fulfill, a role to play in something larger and more meaningful than the events of our sometimes monotonous daily lives?
Grossman’s world is a treasure trove of surprises: jaded high school senior Quentin Coldwater first discovers that he is a magician, and then learns that Fillory, the fantasy world where his beloved Fillory and Further books are set, actually exists.
Setting out on a quest to find new worlds, Quentin and his Brakebills Academy crew arrive in the Neitherlands, an eerily empty city replete with fountains that turn out to be portals to different universes. Say you found yourself in this in-between land, standing in front of countless possibilities to begin a new life. You could escape those impossible term papers or the mind-numbing predictability of your 9 to 5 job, and enter a new land, one that plays by different rules. Where would you go? And what does that choice say about you?
The Magicians Trilogy
You have a superior intellect and you want to put it to use. Like Quentin, you’ve probably grown up comparing fantasy and reality, and you know that the real world is gritty, disappointing, and a bit nonsensical. Yes, your friends may consider you a little cynical, but you know that you’re destined for more, and you always hold out hope for something better. Your ambition and boundless imagination make you restless.
You love the idea of Fillory, a land fueled by magic, where the throne is the rightful place of human visitors like you. Yet part of you suspects that deep down, Fillory is just like any other place — it might be a magical and wonderful land, but there’s no escaping loneliness, boredom, or even tragedy. That might have bothered you when you were younger, but now you kind of like that Fillory is a little broken and complex. Yes, you want to live in a land where you get to ride hippogriffs and hold court in a spectacular white castle, but you wouldn’t want Fillory to just be picturesque and perfect. In fact, the very thought of a perfect world makes you nauseated.
The Chronicles of Narnia
You’re nostalgic for the innocence of childhood, for simpler times when you could easily tell whether something was good or evil based on its name and appearance — unlike Edmund Pevensie, you’d never trust anyone referred to as the White Witch. Though you’re confident in your abilities, you’ve always wanted a mentor, someone steady, wise, and lion-hearted to point you in the right direction. You’re OK with your future remaining foggy as long as you can believe that there’s a rhyme or reason to the way events unfold. You value honor and integrity, and firmly believe that good is always rewarded. You still spend long afternoons playing make-believe — and you secretly love the smell of mothballs.
Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
You’re a bit of an underdog, but you have a quiet strength that earns you the respect of the people you admire. You’re selfless and big-hearted, and always put others’ needs before your own. However, you have ambition and you’re not one to walk away from a fight. You have an extravagant side and have always wanted to swim in a river of chocolate while dancing Oompa Loompas serenade you. (No? Is that just me? OK then.)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
You’re always up for a cup of tea and you’re drawn to the wacky and eccentric. You’re adventurous and always on the lookout for rabbit holes to fall into. Your friends are always poking fun at your absent-mindedness, but you can’t help it — you’re a dreamer. At the end of the day, though, you’re just in it for the adventure. You’re happy to make it home to dinner — and to never look at another deck of cards again.
The Lord of the Rings
You’re a person who likes a roadmap. No opium-smoking caterpillars for you — you like to play by the rules. You have the mind of a historian, and you love that J.R.R. Tolkien took such care to provide a comprehensive backstory for Middle Earth. I mean, the man drafted some pretty elegant maps, invented new species, and even wrote a language! (Elvish.) You want to believe that your life has a higher purpose, and you’re willing to pay any cost to play your part in history. Dangerous quests with high stakes do not faze you — you may not look like a warrior, but you have an iron will.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
You make friends easily and have a knack for uncovering other people’s deepest desires. You’re warm and sweet, and you always earn strangers’ goodwill — somehow, you always run into kind people who are happy to take care of you. But you’re no pushover — you have a confrontational streak, and you’re not afraid to call someone out for being a fraud. Though, to be honest, you really like the idea of a villain you can effortlessly defeat with a bucket of water. (And getting a free pair of shoes out of the trip doesn’t upset you too much either.)
Well, this one is pretty obvious — I’m just telling you what you already know. You do not want to be an adult. You just don’t. You refuse to accept that you are entering a time in your life where you’re solely responsible for, you know, keeping yourself alive and out of debt. If Peter Pan came knocking at your bedroom window, you’d be out of there immediately, no questions asked.
His Dark Materials
You’re a big talker and frankly, you hate being alone, which is why you'd love to have a furry companion. You’re a keen judge of character, and you'd love to be able to asses a person's true intentions simply by observing his or her demon. People tend to underestimate you, but you’re smart and crafty — and might just carry the fate of the world on your shoulders.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Harry Potter series
You’ve always wondered where you belong and find the prospect of a hat telling you what kind of person you are extremely comforting. You believe in destiny and are willing to sacrifice anything, even your life, for the greater good. Friendships are at the center of your world: you’d rather be mauled by a three-headed dog than betray one of your friends. You’re a bit traditional and have always wanted to go to a fancy boarding school — admit it, there’s a part of you that just longs to wear a tie with your house colors. I’m with you — I'll just be here sipping my butterbeer until my owl finally arrives.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; New Line Cinema; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer