There are very few authors who have captured our love and imagination in the way that J.K. Rowling has with her incredibly popular Harry Potter series. But though she’s expanded upon our favorite wizarding world with a few additions- such as “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, The Cursed Child (which she worked with but did not write), and other projects- there’s still many of us who have a wand-shaped hole to fill in our hearts now that Harry and Co.’s adventures have ended.
To help fill the void, here are some of the best fantasy recommendations that are certain to cast a spell on Harry Potter fans seeking a new obsession!
1. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Magicians is without a doubt the #1 most recommended fantasy series for Harry Potter fanatics on the shelves right now. The trilogy follows Quentin Coldwater, a young man who is can’t quite seem to find happiness in the dull, mundane reality of the human world… but when he is accepted to a secretive, very exclusive college of magic to begin his training in modern sorcery, all of that begins to change.
The Magicians has frequently been described as “Harry Potter for adults.” It follows a similar wizarding school structure as Rowling’s famous series, but is definitely written with an older audience in mind. The series has recently enjoyed a huge boost in popularity thanks to the successful TV adaption now showing on the Syfy Channel.
2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted is Novik’s first standalone work, and in 2016 it won the Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Mythopoeic Award in Adult Literature, and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best New Novel.
The book is a beautifully written fantasy that follows theme reminiscent of classic Slavic fairy tales, wherein a young girl named Agnieszka is chosen to go serve with the wizard who helps protect her village, a forbidding man known only as the Dragon. His magic holds the evil that has infested the surrounding forest at bay, but something powerful is awakening deep in the woods… and Agnieszka will have to rely on her own magic to stop it.
If you loved the magic of Harry Potter and the presence of strong female characters like Hermione, McGonagall, and Molly Weasley, then Uprooted will be certain to steal your heart. There isn’t a single moment where this novel doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat.
3. Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel is the first work in Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy, and is a bit of an older choice for this list as it was first published in 1995, three years before Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone was actually released in the U.S. However, this is still an excellent choice for anyone who loves the magic and intrigue of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
Sabriel is set in two neighboring countries: the first, called Ancelstierre, possesses a society and technology similar to those of the 20th century, while the second (known only as the Old Kingdom) is a place where Free Magic and Charter Magic still exist. Sabriel is a young girl who is attending a boarding school in Ancelstierre, but when her father- a powerful necromancer called the Abhorsen, whose job it is to put the undead infesting the Old Kingdom to rest- is overcome, he sends for her to take his place.
Sabriel and the rest of the Old Kingdom trilogy are still bestsellers over 20 years after the initial release. Though somewhat darker in tone than much of Rowling’s work, Sabriel is still an excellent fantasy dripping in magic and adventure.
4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
If you’re looking for magic, you really can’t go wrong with Neil Gaiman. Much of Gaiman’s work has the feeling of a darker fairy tale… magical, dangerous, and often more than little creepy. Neverwhere is possibly the pinnacle of such works.
In the novel, a young businessman named Richard Mayhew has recently moved to London from Scotland, and has a relatively mundane and normal life ahead of him until he finds a young girl, bloodied and weakened, while on his way to a dinner one evening. Upon rescuing her, he is thrust into a magical world that exists beyond the fringes of normal London, a place called London Below. Now, in order to avoid being killed by a pair of truly horrific assassins (as well as putting his real life back into place), Richard must fight his way through the mysteries and horrors of this magical underworld, or risk being lost to the shadows forever.
Both Gaiman and Rowling have a similar flair for adventure, as well as for creating memorable characters (both endearing and terrifying). Both authors also tend to weave mythology heavily into their work, and Gaiman manages to do so in a way that makes the myths and legends almost seem new again. While Neverwhere may not be a book you want to read at night by yourself, it’s certainly one you won’t be able to put down.
5. The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
The first in a 6-book series, The Alchemyst begins when a young man named Josh encounters an odd customer at the bookstore where he works… a man named John Dee who is looking for the Codex, or the Book of Abraham the Mage. Josh discovers that his employers, Nick and his wife Perry, are not who they seem when John Dee ends up taking the book by force; they are in fact Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle, medieval alchemists being kept alive by the elixir of life. Flamel quickly enlists the help of Josh and his sister Sophie in recovering the Codex from Dee before he can recover the last two pages and raise the Dark Elders, beings who will destroy the world and enslave the human race.
The Alchemyst is rich in adventure and mythology, and is a great choice for young readers and adults alike.
6. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
The Book of Lost Things starts out with a very similar tone, at least character-wise, to what we found in Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. Set during the time of WWII, a 12-year-old boy named David is struggling with the loss of his mother and his father’s remarriage. He escapes the stresses of his reality through the worlds in his favorite books, but when a bomber plane crashes into his backyard, he actually finds himself physically transported into the fantasy world of his stories.
The Book of Lost Things is a fresh take on classic fairy tale themes, and you find many familiar characters (Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, etc.) make an appearance throughout the novel. Connolly’s novel shares many similar themes to Harry Potter’s journey through the wizarding world, including bravery and the transition from childhood to adulthood.
7. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
If you loved all of the spellcasting, potion-brewing, and fantastic creatures of the Harry Potter world, then you need to check out Kim Harrison’s work. Dead Witch Walking is the first installment in Harrison’s extremely popular Hollows series. It follows the tough but sexy Rachel Morgan, a witch who makes a living off of hunting down magical beings who break the rules. She’s aided by her two partners: Ivy, a living vampire, and Jenks, a loudmouthed and highly skilled pixie.
Dead Witch Walking and the rest of the Hollows series are packed with action, humor, and brilliant character development. Harrison creates a fun and fast-paced world that has just enough danger to keep us all hooked.
8. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Susanna Clarke’s debut novel is an alternative history based on the premise that magic once existed in the world, and has returned to London in the form of Jonathan Strange and Gilbert Norrell. Though written in 2004, the writing style is strongly reminiscent of 19th century authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, which makes this particular magical novel a great choice for history buffs as well.
Following in the tradition of wizardly scholarship, Jonathan Strange travels to London to become Mr. Norrell’s pupil, and the rest of the story follows these two gentlemen as they use magic to influence the historical and social events of their time.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a great choice for anyone who loves both the adventurous fantasy of Harry Potter and the eloquence of the classic Romance authors.
And there you have it! No matter what your tastes in reading are, there’s something here to help keep the magic alive in your reading life… at least until the next “Fantastic Beasts” film comes out!