The Magickers is a fantasy quartet by Emily Drake. It's often considered to be a more distinctly American foil to the British Harry Potter series—both series deal with the training of young magic users and have strong Multiple Demographic Appeal, but The Magickers has a more urban and American flavor. The Extranormal Institute that the series begins at is a summer camp, for one.
The series begins with one Jason Adrian, an 11-year-old boy who has two great loves in his life: Fantasy and soccer. He lives with his stepparents and his stepsister somewhere in California. His stepparents always go on lavish trips during the summer, and his stepsister is going to a filmmaker's camp. He himself was planning on spending the summer in soccer camp... until an errant tackle during soccer tryouts leaves him with a badly-injured leg that keeps him from going to camp. Initially, Jason thinks he'll have to spend the summer with his grandma. But his English teacher offers him an alternative: There's a new summer camp, Camp Ravenwyng, that's open to creatively-minded kids from all across America. They've shown interest in one of Jason's stories, and are offering him an invitation. Wary at first, Jason accepts, and finds himself at a strange summer camp where counselors dress like Goths, cabin assignments come from wishing wells, and whatever's cooking in that big pot in the mess hall is potent enough to make spoons dissolve. (Or... maybe that part's normal.)
However, dark things lurk around the camp. The councilors mumble to themselves in the dead of night. Nightmares plague the campers. And one night, Jason has a run-in with a fearsome beast that leaves him with a strange scar. Before long, the teachers reveal to them the truth: They're Magickers, and all of the kids have potential to learn magic. And they tell the students a tale of something that transpired long ago:
Five hundred years ago, a teacher and his student got into an argument about the nature of magic. Gregory the Gray, the teacher, was an old fool, and believed magic was inifinite and could be drawn on forever. Brennard, the student, was a young fool, and believed magic was finite and bound to fade away. They had a feud so powerful, it banished magic to the far corners of the world, and sent nearly all living Magickers into a deep, secluded sleep. But now, in the modern day, they have begun to awaken. Followers of the teacher are now gathering together, looking for talented youngsters in the hope of raising a new generation of Magickers. But the Dark Hand of Brennard, the followers of the student, are assembling as well. And they want to keep the feud going. They both seek the legendary Gates that will lead to safe havens, where magic may be practiced in safety forevermore.
And in order to find them, the Magickers are going to need the help of Jason and his friends.
The books in the series include:
- The Magickers (2001)
- The Curse of Arkady (2002)
- The Dragon Guard (2003)
- The Gate of Bones (2004)
This series includes examples of:
- Achey Scars: The scar on Jason's hand, given to him by a wolfjackal. Being close to the Dark makes it ache; getting too close causes it to open up again (though it always reheals quickly).
- Asian and Nerdy: Ting. However, while most instances of this trope portray the character as good at math/engineering, Ting is actually more of an avid reader than a math whiz.
- The Beastmaster: Bailey has "animal sense" and is good with them.
- Book Worm: Ting is rarely seen without a good book.
- Friendless Background: Implied to be the case with Bailey. Her mother is overjoyed when she makes a real friend with Ting.
- Good Is Not Nice: Rich and Stefan start out as barely a rung above the bullies who sprained Jason's ankle in the first place. They're still members of the seven core good kids who work with the main Magickers.
- Gray and Grey Morality: The original debate that lead to the sealing of magic was probably a worthwhile discussion; it just got out of hand. In the modern day, not all the "good" Magickers are entirely on the level. And not all the Dark Hand are unreasonable, either.
- Malaproper: Bailey, usually with idioms and turns of phrase. To the point where, in the first book, Jason realizes that the "ghost" haunting the camp is actually the disappeared Bailey because of its mangling of the English language.
- Morality Pet: Stefan, to Rich. Rich is big, mean, and antisocial, but he constantly looks out for Stefan. He may pick on you regardless of what you do, but if you harm Stefan, he will destroy you.
- Perky Goth: Eleanora, who dresses in lacy black even at the height of summer.
- Poor Man's Porn: Referenced in the second book when Jason gets his own computer. His stepmother briefly worries about him looking for unsavory things on the Internet... before his stepfather remarks that desperate young men can get creative with or without the Internet. "I once had a friend who underlined every dirty word in the Bible!"
- Summer Campy: Camp Ravenwyng is a Wizarding School in summer camp garb. Though it's not above some of the usual camp transgressions.
- The Quiet One: Ting is by far the quietest of the seven main kids, and spends most of her time reading to herself.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The treatment of computers in the books easily pegs the story as being part of, and coming from, the late 1990's/early 2000's, although the series generally avoids citing specific numbers and specs that would date the books any further.
- Wizarding School: Wizarding summer camp, actually. Although the Magickers in charge of it do hope to set up an actual school.