The Magician King – Lev Grossman

Book two of the trilogy, the continued adventures of Quentin and colleagues: more travel in a quest to locate five magical keys. Part of this travel is on Earth, using portals that are created precisely with Google Street View! And there are deliciously old-fashioned sea trips in Fillory. Much of the book has metaphysical tones. Where does magic come from? Are there all-powerful secret magicians (aka Gods; I was reminded of the Old Gods in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods)? Finally, there are wonderful character names like Pouncy Silverkitten – what’s not to love!

The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman

The final book of the trilogy comes to a satisfying conclusion. More magical quests on Earth and on Fillory, with reappearance of some characters from books one and two. About 12 years have passed since book 1 and the consequences of doing magic and experiencing great magic has changed the magicians, bringing a world-weary maturity. This series is wonderfully imaginative. However, the 3 books need to be read sequentially; none are stand-alone stories.

In A House Of Lies – Ian Rankin

In A House Of Lies - Ian RankinAfter more than 20 Inspector Rebus books, the stories are as good as ever. This most recent book has a Rankin characteristic, a complex plot with two cold cases. A dazzling feature of the Rebus stories is that lies, deceit and corruption are pretty evenly divided between the police and the criminals. These Rebus stories are also becoming more philosophical as he ages and deals with the medical and moral consequences of a mis-spent life. Very entertaining.

A Matter of Malice – Thomas King

A Matter of Malice - Thomas KingThumps DreadfulWater (wonderful name) is a Cherokee ex-cop trying to live a quiet life in a small town in Montana. Thomas King is a very fine writer (The Back of the Turtle, An Inconvenient Indian) so the writing is much better than the average murder mystery. King captures the world-weary aspect of DreadfulWater, how a mind can wander and then snap back into focus. Now I am going to read the first three books in this series.

The Rules Of Magic – Alice Hoffman

The Rules Of Magic - Alice HoffmanHoffman’s books are very diverse: The Dovekeepers, The Museum Of Extraordinary Things, The Marriage of Opposites and recently, Faithful. Her new book is a prequel to Practical Magic. The central theme is the human cost of magic: a nearly 400 year old curse on the Owen’s family. Accordingly, the current matriarch, Susanna, establishes rules to protect her children. Not surprisingly, her headstrong children test themselves to discover who they are. The context of the book is New York in the 1960s which adds to the air of discovery. The writing is brilliant, describing unforgettable characters and the power of love.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Lila by Marilynne RobinsonThis wonderful book is the third in the Gilead trilogy, and is the best, in my opinion. There is almost no sense of place; most of the book takes place in Lila’s mind. The dominant emotion for Lila to learn is trust because she must always fight an impulse to flee what is a good outcome for her. Magnificent story telling.