The Magicians (Paperback)

The Magicians By Blexbolex, Karin Snelson (Translated by) Cover Image
By Blexbolex, Karin Snelson (Translated by)
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It’s a graphic novel! It’s an art book! It’s an action-packed fantasy adventure from French visionary Blexbolex, for readers young and old.

"An exploration of the magic and difficulty of childhood, the wonders of the imagination, and the unique properties of books themselves, The Magicians is another utterly surprising gift from the singular mind of Blexbolex. You’ll want to read it again and again.” —Brian Selznick, author & illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Big Tree

In the corner of a quiet, long-abandoned house, something is bubbling up and protesting. Suddenly, out from their hiding spots burst three young shapeshifting magicians—an elephant, a blackbird, and a human girl—each of whom embarks on their own journey. But a fierce young Huntress and a mechanical lion-dragon named Clinker are hot on their trails... and won't rest until every last magician is vanquished.

Fans of Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's work or The Wizard of Oz will feel right at home in the pages of The Magicians, with its fabulously eclectic characters and entertaining, suspenseful, dreamlike story inspired by video games, science fiction, fantasy, and fairy tales. Magic is the beating heart of this multi-world universe—the magic of nature, the magic of childhood, the magic of creativity and imagination. Here, Blexbolex celebrates the mysterious, beautiful mess of life.

Every gorgeous page features a silkscreen-style illustration that brilliantly layers three Pantone spot colors, in a festive palette that suggests “vintage circus.” From the heavy cardstock binding with French flaps, to the bronze metallic endpapers, to the book's paper evoking that of classic comic books, Blexbolex carefully selected the materials that would best realize his vision. The result? A visually stunning work of art.

Blexbolex is an award-winning French graphic artist living in Berlin. Enchanted Lion Books has previously published English translations of four of his picture books, including People, Vacation, and two New York Times Best Illustrated selections: Seasons and Ballad.

A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of 2023 • A Kirkus Best Book of 2023 • A Booklist Editors' Choice • Selected for the Wall Street Journal  Holiday Books Gift Guide, Publishers Weekly’s Holiday Gift Guide, and A Room of One’s Own's Holiday Catalog • A Moonbow Best Children’s Book of 2023 • A 100 Scope Notes Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Book of 2023 • A Publishers Weekly Big Indie Book of the Fall

NOTE: Folding pages are part of the design.

About the Author

Blexbolex is an award-winning book illustrator. Born in France, he has lived in Germany since 2008, where he teaches and also gives workshops. In 1992, he started work as a printer, allowing him to both create and print his own first books. From 1996 to 2005, he worked at Éditions Cornélius in Paris. Since 2005, he’s worked as an illustrator and author of children’s books, while also creating comics and books for adults. His experimental approach to illustration, industrial printing techniques, and book production makes him a pioneer in his field. Blexbolex has received many prizes and distinctions, including New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated recognitions for Seasons (2010) and Ballad (2014). The Magicians is his fifth book with Enchanted Lion.

Karin Snelson is a Seattle-based book editor, reviewer, writer, and translator, specializing in children’s and young adult literature. She has served on a Newbery Medal selection committee, on an ALA Notable Children’s Books committee, and on a 2022 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominating committee through USBBY. She is the co-translator of the French picture book Jerome by Heart, which won a 2019 Batchelder Honor; At the Drop of a Cat; and You Can't Kill Snow White.


Praise For…

  • Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2023
  • Selected for the Wall Street Journal Holiday Gift Books Guide
  • Kirkus Best Middle Grade Book of 2023
  • Booklist Editors' Choice: Graphic Novels, 2023
  • Moonbow Best Children’s Book of 2023
  • 100 Scope Notes Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Book of 2023
  • Selected for Publishers Weekly's Big Indie Books of Fall feature AND PW’s Holiday Gift Guide!
  • Selected for A Room of One’s Own’s 2023 Holiday Catalog
  • Daily Bulldog Holiday Book Pick for 2023
  • Shelf Editions Bookshop Book of the Month, January 2024
  • Featured in We Are Teachers’s “Best New Books Coming November 2023 for Kids and Teachers”
  • STARRED reviews from KirkusBooklist, and Publishers Weekly

“Blexbolex is a singular talent, someone whose work, while often referencing the past, is entirely his own. In The Magicians, his beautiful and strange illustrations—built up digitally through his signature spot-color layers, inspired by traditional screen printing—are combined with a Japanese binding technique that is rarely ever seen in published books. The seemingly simple layout of almost the entire book (one drawing and a few lines of text per page, two per spread) belies a delightfully complicated story about three magicians being pursued by a huntress and her mechanical dragon. But who are the good guys here? Who are the villains? An exploration of the magic and difficulty of childhood, the wonders of the imagination, and the unique properties of books themselves, The Magicians is another utterly surprising gift from Blexbolex. You’ll want to read it again and again.”

— Brian Selznick

“With an almost monastic commitment to creating images that feel both universal and deeply personal, Blexbolex has swerved in the course of his career from wild, aggressive mark-making to a pure distillation of forms. He has relentlessly followed a muse that has surely been an exhausting alchemical pursuit. The result is this generous story that trusts the reader’s youthful intuition that the solidity we perceive in the modern world is only one layer, and it’s tissue paper thin, like the brilliant, kinetic illustrations themselves. As with all great kids' stories, The Magicians is really about remembering the things we were born knowing and taught to forget. Blexbolex strives to remember the essence of everything.”
— Jacob Covey


Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2023! “This cinematic story by the artist Blexbolex, presented in dynamic silkscreen-like images with text translated from the French by Karin Snelson, is like nothing children ages 9 and older will have seen before... The supple feel of the book in your hands, the curious whispering of its paper—The Magicians is sui generis.”

— Wall Street Journal

Booklist Editors’ Choice: Youth Graphic Novels, 2023! “Three magicians escape confinement and are pursued by determined magic-hunters in this enigmatic book about imagination, magic, and who gets to wield it, stunningly illustrated in a brightly colored vintage style.”
— Booklist

 “Its pages silky to the touch, its colors reminiscent of an ancient book from a forgotten library shelf, French cartoonist Blexbolex’s book ushers readers into a fully realized yet exhilaratingly enigmatic world… Familiar, mythical story elements play out in new, expectation-confounding ways, like the hunters, one who would be at home in a Chinese New Year’s parade, the other in a reader’s favorite manga series. This carries over to the format, conforming to the standards of neither graphic novel nor picture book, its single-page ‘panels’ contain the visual panache of a comic, with character design like that old half-recalled picture book from your childhood, and each is accompanied by one artfully worded paragraph… There is much here that will tug on a nostalgic heartstring and also thrill and mystify. A remarkable creation, particularly so in design and tone, readers young and old will find little else like this lyrical, thrilling, and mysterious tale.”

Kirkus Best Graphic Middle-Grade Book of 2023! ★ “In this translated French import, three magicians materialize from prolonged dormancy, but hot on their heels are a huntress and a mechanical lion/dragon. Eleven chapter headings organize intriguing third-person episodes… The opening suggests that this fantasy occurs ‘now,’ while the conclusion says it ‘will be again.’ Nearly square, silkscreenlike images in a controlled palette are framed by the borders of abundant, soft, creamy pages. Several sentences per page—all in blue caps—reveal an elegant translation: The elephant slams the door ‘with the surly incivility of a traveler in a hurry.’ Climactic moments fill double spreads. When the main characters combat their pursuers and acquaintances, tilted angles and sharp-edged shadows dominate; when the protagonists escape ‘outside’ through a tear in the page, the compositions are less saturated, with childlike scribbles producing a more innocent vibe… Recurring threads emerge: the quest for home, the tension between orderliness and chaos, the desirability of magic in the world, and the wisdom of reconsidering first impressions. As these motifs wend through transformations and cameos containing familiar folkloric elements, readers experience the sense of a gifted storyteller improvising as ideas flow. Protecting magic, extending grace, leaping into the future with hope—this tour de force will nourish souls.”

★ “In a fast-paced, action-packed chase that traverses time and space, the huntress and the magicians take turns gaining the upper hand, until an even more treacherous party enters the fold. Via expressive text, artist Blexbolex (Vacation) presents a dreamlike fantasy graphic novel adventure that celebrates creativity, imagination, and magic. The silkscreen-style illustrations are awash in a vivid palette of mostly primary colors, giving this visually stunning work a vintage vibe.”
— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

 "Both children and adults will be dazzled… 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… 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."


Selected for the WSJ Holiday Gift Children’s Books Guide! “The Magicians by the French graphic artist Blexbolex is such an unusual book, so striking and tactile and enthralling, that it is hard to say who will get the most out of it. Younger children will be able to lose themselves in the mesmerizing colors and shapes of the dynamic, retro-feeling illustrations… Readers older than 9 will be able to follow the action-filled, multi-dimensional melodrama with the help of text that runs like extended subtitles beneath the pictures… Physically the book itself is like a magical object. Despite being thick and oversize, it has a supple feel... Each page is made up of a single sheet of lightweight paper folded over, … and as the pages turn they seem almost to whisper. If all this makes The Magicians sound exceptional, well, good—because it is.”
— Wall Street Journal

Moonbow Best Children’s Book of 2023! “People by Blexbolex fundamentally changed the way I think about children’s books, and his latest, The Magicians, is another example of the possibilities of the form. Somehow, it manages to be a comic book, graphic novel, picture book, and art book all in one, with suspenseful, magical, fantastical adventures throughout. Everything from the metallic endpapers to the poster-style page layouts to the propelling video-game-like structure adds to its dramatic effect. This is a very special book.”
— Taylor Sterling

100 Scope Notes Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Book of 2023! "This book isn’t even the same species as traditional children’s books. The dreamlike multiverse story, the silkscreen illustrations, the binding, the PAPER – good god, it’s like nothing you’re going to see this or any year."
— Travis Jonker

“Imaginative and fantastical… Beginning with the phrase ‘once upon a time that is now’ and ending with ‘once upon a time that will begin again,’ the creator Blexbolex uses artistic license to create something wholly different. The text is translated from French while the style and color of the illustrations take up most of the page… Capable of being read in a single sitting, the story offers creativity and adventure as its backbone, offering escapism and a unique setting similar Jon Klassen’s The Skull. VERDICT: A gem of a story, it can easily be seen as an all-ages title in a world of imagination which defies true categorization.”
— School Library Journal

“Very much in his tradition of the book as an object… Blexbolex’s silkscreen-style of overprinting three spot colors in layers on these folded and gathered pages gives The Magicians that extra luxuriously antique artbook flavor… The reasons for the chase, the identities of the magicians and their pursuers are the mysteries driving the beautifully designed and executed narrative, so you will want to discover those things for yourself. Suffice to say, if you or your children like the fairytale structures of previous books by Blexbolex, this one has all the same ingredients that make those pleasurable reading. Four stars.”
— Woodrow Phoenix

“What I like about the book is the utter unpredictability of the magical adventures and the fact that it really is hard to figure out who is good and who is evil... The scenes of movement and transformation happen quickly, within a page or two, so by the time 182 pages have elapsed, the reader must decide if it's time to reread the book to take stock of whose side they will root for. The physical book feels like a tour de force of cool bookmaking... The author has created the vintage feel of a 1920s silkscreen or woodblock printed picture book from eastern Europe... Recommended for lovers of unique visual storytelling and older readers who like fantastical illustrated books.”
— Stephanie Tournas (Robbins Library, Arlington, MA)


Selected for A Room of One’s Own’s 2023 Holiday Catalog! “French cartoonist & artist Blexbolex is well known for his stunning and strange risographs, and this book is among his best! A wonderful journey for anyone who lives at the intersection of imagination and wonder.”

— Gretchen

The Magicians is a fantastical tale of magic and adventure, chaos and control. What would a world look like if there was no magic? An oversized graphic novel that reads like a fable and is packaged in the most dazzling way I’ve ever seen. French illustrator Blexbolex's latest is an impressive work of art that will make for a wonderful gift to be treasured.”
— Jen

“A fairy tale in the gaps, … uniquely child friendly. Blexbolex as imagination stimulation… Reads like a feast with each course in a different household, and, ultimately satisfying!”
— Griffin, Bookseller

An untraditional, mystical story about the last of the tricksy magicians, and the huntress who wishes to defeat them. Each page is a work of art.”
— Anthony Gaetjen, Bookseller

The Magicians is a deliriously gorgeous epic adventure about three magicians released from spells of imprisonment and then pursued across time and space… A brilliant gift for an inquisitive kid or grown-up.”
— Tom Nissley, Owner & bookseller

Daily Bulldog Holiday Book Pick for 2023! “The Magicians is a unique illustrated tale. Even its design and paper are unexampled! Translated from the French, this story of magic and adventure offers a depth and scope of beguiling strangeness, rewarding vistas and narrative landscapes. Stop by the store and explore this one for yourself!”
— Kenny Brechner

Product Details
ISBN: 9781592704040
ISBN-10: 1592704042
Publisher: Enchanted Lion
Publication Date: November 7th, 2023
Pages: 210
Language: English

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