Of course, every reader will have their own unique reasons for loving the series, but surely one of the biggest has to be the magic that bounces off the page? And who hasn’t, at some point, wished they were a pupil at Hogwarts? The idea of levitation, love potions and liquid luck being taught in the classroom like it’s a maths equation is a truly enchanting idea; after all, magic is something that has fascinated us for centuries.
The series also introduced some all-time favourite characters. Harry, Ron and Hermione are not your traditional heroes; they are geeks, nerds and outsiders – yet they are the ones who save the day. Although it takes a while to learn the multi-dimensional elements of each character, the reader begins to connect with them on a deep level, empathising with the protagonists and their own individual troubles that they help each other solve and overcome.
Finally, every reader of the Harry Potter series must own up to having tear-smudged marks on certain pages of their copies. This is another reason for the books’ success – there are downs as well as ups. Heart-wrenchingly sad moments are beautifully written, with the soothing but captivating flow of Rowling’s narrative style.
Rowling herself shed many a tear when the series came to an end, and so did millions of fans across the world. But just because you’ve read and completed the most successful children’s book series of all-time doesn’t mean the magic can’t live on – as the movies, Pottermore and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will attest to! While the following books will never replace Harry Potter, they can transport you to a fantasy world where you will be sucked in – a sense of escapism that is something to do with the familiar combined with the unfamiliar enchantment.
If you love adventure and fantasy – try these. With a similar reading level and all fantasy-based, they are perfect if you’ve read the last few Harry Potters…
First published in 1937 and originally written for his own children, this is the reader’s first introduction to Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Gollum, and has to be one of the most adventurous and charming stories of all time. From the hole in the ground comes another unassuming and reluctant hero, much like Harry Potter: Bilbo Baggins. Sure to spark any young imagination, the events in The Hobbit occur prior to Lord of the Rings, so if you love this, you’ll be spurred on to read the LoTR trilogy – it’s a great introduction to the world of Middle-Earth.
This is a book that captures all the classic elements of fantasy: mythical creatures, supernatural phenomena and, of course, magic. Like the Harry Potter series, Pullman manages to create a world intertwined with our own, referencing cities and countries. Each human possesses a daemon (essentially, their soul) that takes on the form of an animal; the fate of these characters lies in the mysterious Northern Lights. With several big plot twists, the story is anything but predictable, and will appeal to both children and adults alike.
The first book in the Inheritance Cycle, this novel introduces Eragon, a young farm boy who comes across a rare stone (which we later find out is a dragon’s egg). He takes it home, the egg hatches and out comes Saphira. The two become inseparable, and so their adventure begins as they tackle evil and mysterious forces. With many comparisons to Lord of the Rings, this is considered by many to be another great fantasy epic. Impressively, Paolini wrote this book when he was just a teenager, and was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the “youngest author of a bestselling book series.”
Looking for a new series to get lost in? Try one of these…
The Lightning Thief is the first novel in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, following modern-day 12-year-old Percy (or should we say, Perseus) Jackson as he finds out he is a demigod – the son of Sally Jackson and Poseidon, the Greek god. Written in a fast-paced, humorous style, the reader accompanies Percy to a summer school for demigods where he finds himself trying to prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. Many have noticed similarities between the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter series, so if you need another magical fix based in a school, grab a copy…
Similarly, The Hunger Games is written in the voice of the leading young protagonist – this time, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen. Set in a dystopian world in the near future, 12 boys and 12 girls are forced to take part in a live television show called The Hunger Games. The game has one rule: kill or be killed. Like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games sends out a clear message about fighting evil and both have some extraordinarily memorable fight scenes.
Set 6,000 years in the past, Wolf Brother is the first book of six in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, and is the perfect young adults’ book to follow Harry Potter. Torak, a 12-year-old boy, is alone and scared. His father has been killed by a demon bear, and his only comfort is the friendship he finds in a small wolf cub, a fellow orphan. Unusually, the reader also sees the tale through the eyes of the cub. With short, intense chapters, the book is gritty and realistic, touching on themes of magic, survival and folklore. The fast-moving pace will keep children hooked.
With a sarcastic, cynical and utterly hilarious writing style, Lemony Snicket (the pen name of Daniel Handler) has written 13 children’s novels as part of A Series of Unfortunate Events, all following the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire after their loving parents tragically die in a fire. Although primarily designed for kids, it doesn’t “talk down” to them; instead, it uses long, advanced words (often for comedy value) before defining them. As the author reminds the reader again and again throughout the book: this is not a story for happy endings.
The first book in The Wardstone Chronicles series, this ghost story comes with a written warning on the back: “Not to be read after dark”. It follows Tom – the seventh son of the seventh son – who gets sent off with “The Spook” when he turns 13. Although the plot is completely original, like Harry Potter, both are set in England and feature various folkloric creatures and legends. Perfect for anyone into dark YA fantasy, The Spook’s Apprentice is eerie and creepy… in a good way.
Artemis Fowl II is a criminal mastermind who captures a fairy and, in the first book of eight, holds her to ransom in order to restore his family’s fortune and exploit the magical Fairy People. The rivalry between Artemis and Holly gradually morphs into a unique friendship over the course of the series, interweaving science and time travel plots with a brilliant sense of humour. It’s no wonder the books have drawn a huge worldwide audience.
The first book in the Alex Rider series, Stormbreaker is a hugely popular YA novel, having sold over nine million copies globally. Alex Rider is a 14-year-old boy who, after his uncle (and guardian) dies, gets drawn into a world of espionage – in the form of a secret mission for the MI6. Most children or teenagers will never experience being a real-life spy, but this suspense-packed book will make them feel like they have.
If you’re after something fresh, coming from a totally different angle, take a look at these books. With standout stories you’ll love, they will go some way towards filling the gap left by Harry Potter.
This 2013 coming-of-age story is sophisticated, original and touching, with hilarious dialogue thrown in for good measure. Cath, the shy protagonist and eponymous “fangirl” of Simon Snow, recounts her social anxiety in a realistic and relatable way. The book has interwoven themes of fanfiction that teens will love; Cath takes her favourite books and creates her own stories. Although it’s a YA novel, adults will be sneaking this one off the shelf, too.
Holes is the first instalment in Louis Sachar’s YA series, also titled ‘Holes’. Original, inventive and funny, it follows preteen Stanley, who is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. Stanley is sent to reform camp and forced to work every day in the scorching sun. At the camp, he experiences his fair share of adventure – in the most unexpected ways. This is one you’ll want to read more than once and will be recommending to all your friends.
A book that you could easily read in one sitting, you will want to revisit it again and again; it represents everything that you could want from YA fiction: complex, magical themes combined with emotive, pure storytelling. Michael’s life is turned upside down when he moves into a new home to find a strange creature (bird? man? angel?) living in his garage. An intriguing story that touches on many sophisticated themes.
If you enjoyed the Harry Potter series, then here are three companion titles from JK Rowling that any true fan needs to read:
An all-you-need-to-know book about the history and rules of the wizarding sport of Quidditch. Any diehard fan will enjoy learning the facts, beyond what they garnered from the book series. Charming and funny, the short guide was written exclusively for charity, and even includes a library check-out card at the front, complete with ‘H. Potter’ on the final line. The book is testament to how Rowling meticulously plots out her magical world to the very finest detail.
“The little reviews by different wizards are so funny that I couldn’t help but chuckle. I love how they include these little details to make this book “real”… If you are a true Potterhead, I highly recommend this book to you for it allows you to get to know the wizard world better. A Potterhead simply couldn’t resist a book that is related to Harry Potter” – Candythebookishgirl blog
Every wizarding household has a copy of this on their coffee table; now us Muggles, too, have the chance to read about what the Puffskin eats and why you shouldn’t leave milk out for a Knarl. This reference book will teach you all about beasts like werewolves and dragons, as well as other lesser-known creatures. Highly engaging, you’ll feel like you are a Hogwarts’ student yourself. It has recently been announced that Eddie Redmayne will portray Newt Scamander in the upcoming film adaptation.
“Is it every bit as magical as the Harry Potter series? Yes. Absolutely, it is… The way it’s presented is absolutely fun. Notes written on the side by those who read it; the first page proclaiming the book belongs to Harry Potter etc. make it feel like the book was actually owned by a student. I liked reading about the creatures, especially different breeds of dragons and Billywigs and Imps” – Abookwormsmusing blog
JK Rowling spins her magic once more with Takes of Beedle the Bard. If you’re looking for further insight into the world of Harry Potter, this book brings us five simple fairy tales, all designed for wizard children. Readers will enjoy the commentary provided by Professor Dumbledore following each tale, giving insight into the stories, as well as the wizard himself. The book is said to be edited by none other than Hermione.
“For the countless fans suffering Harry Potter withdrawal, this medicinal volume of related fairy tales will ease the pain. But sip it slowly, it’s very short” – Daily Mail.
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If you’ve found a children’s book that you think is perfect for fans of Harry Potter then share your recommendation with us in the comments box below.