This is quite a recent book. It starts with a boy (as of yet unbeknownst the most powerful magician ever) who is offered to see the world of magic by four men in trenchcoats (one of them smokes).

He is shown many wonders. He is taken in by a lady to a neutral Halloween party of good and evil and then ambushed.

He is then taken to a fairy dimension by one of these four men who turns into a lady as he crosses over. He is told not to leave the path and is kidnapped by the Baba Yaga and he accepts a gift from the fairies preventing him from leaving their realm.


2 Answers 2


The Books of Magic

This comic book series, written by Neil Gaiman, chronicles the journeys of budding magician Tim Hunter, as he meets a variety of magic-using characters. According to the Wikipedia article:

Drawing on a childhood spent working his way through the children's section in his local library and a childhood love of magic and fantasy stories[4] such as T. H. White's The Once and Future King, Gaiman created an everyman character of a twelve-year-old boy called Timothy Hunter, who would need to be given an extensive tour of the DC magical universe before being able to decide if he should embrace or reject his destiny as the world's greatest magician.

It was published from 1990 to 2000, which wouldn't really fit as "quite recent," and of course is a comic book series. It's likely, then, that you read one of the book adaptations, which were published from 2003 to 2004. Most likely this was The Books of Magic 1: The Invitation, which encompasses the storyline of the first four comics.

We have the four men in trenchcoats:

As if the man’s words had made it happen, Tim was suddenly surrounded by all four men, all in trench coats. All a lot bigger than he was, he noticed.

The Books of Magic 1: The Invitation

One smokes: Constantine, as correctly guessed in the comments:

A match was lit. The blond man, slouched against a wall, brought the tiny flame to the end of his cigarette and took a deep drag. Of the four, he was the most ambivalent, hesitant—and yet so much rested with him.

The Books of Magic 1: The Invitation

He is kidnapped by the Baba Yaga:

The man whirled around, and as he did, he transformed. A hag in tattered rags, with wild gray hair, scrawny arms, and pointy yellowed teeth, stood before Tim. “What’s wrong?” she cackled. “You’ve stepped off the path, boychick. That’s what’s wrong!”

With a swift move, she grabbed Tim’s wrist. She clutched it so tightly he was afraid she’d snap it off. Giving him a sharp tug, he stumbled toward her. Up close, he could smell her foul breath, see the hairs poking up from the warts on her chin and nose. And all the while, he felt her fingernails, sharp as claws, digging into his skin.

“Dr. Occult?” Tim whispered. “Have you, uh, changed again?” The woman laughed hysterically. “There is no Dr. Occult here, boychick! Just the Baba Yaga. And the Baba Yaga played a good trick on you!”

The Books of Magic 1: The Invitation

And so forth.

  • Thank you so much everyone that was bang on! You're all fabulous
    – Eli Hersh
    Aug 23, 2016 at 17:50

The Books of Magic

The BOM stars Timothy Hunter, a fantastic character from the vast dimension of Neil Gaiman's storytelling mind. The story mentioned in the question was brought together in trade paperback in the early 90's which then spawned another comic series by a DC/Vertigo team. It started in summer 1994 with Mr. Gaiman consulting to keep the British feel going and stay true to Tim's development.

The trench coat brigade consists of the Phantom Stranger, Constantine, Mister E and as stated elsewhere, Dr. Occult - I couldn't remember the last one off hand.

Tim Hunter discovers his true lineage in the Books of Magic DC/Vertigo Series that picked up in '94 and ran for 75 issues. As is seen quickly in the new series, Tim Hunter only had to learn the lesson once ~ making deals with a fairie. What fun to see him at 13 already engaging in the mysteries of magic.

20 years old in Scifi/Fantasy terms is recent ~ just saying.

In fact, the very recent DC Justice League Dark, Madame Xanadu, Phantom Stranger, Pandora, Zatanna and Constantine series' had intertwined Tim Hunter's fate into their stories. What a delight that was, so much so, that I had to take out the old BOM collection and begin to read them again. It was great then; and a great reread 22 years later, I must say.

Oh, and yeah, that's really funny - novel adaptation - boy did that raise questions when Neil Gaimen did a book tour a decade ago. No further comment on that sticky wicket.

  • 1
    You're probably going to have people ask (if not just downvote), but what do you feel your answer provides in addition to Adamant's?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Aug 22, 2016 at 14:14
  • Quite possibly was writing, editing his answer before other answer was posted. I've had that happen before to me where I start writing, have to step away, and come back later to find someone else beat me to the punch. Aug 22, 2016 at 14:46
  • The answer provides information on current and ongoing incarnations of the series and character. It also completes the answer regarding the other members of the trench coat brigade. Aug 22, 2016 at 17:20

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