Joanne Kathleen Rowling, more commonly known by her pen name J.K. Rowling or pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is most famous for creating the magical Harry Potter books.
J.K. Rowling’s story is a real-life ‘rags to riches’ tale, as she claims she was as poor as you could get without being homeless in modern London. Taking inspiration from the landscapes of Exeter, London, Edinburgh, and rural Scotland, she began writing of the poor orphan boy, forced to live with his nasty aunt and uncle.
The world Rowling created which included magic, witches, wizards, dementors, dragons, werewolves, mythical creatures, complex spells, loving teachers, and one enchanting school, soon became an escape for people across the world.
There are seven books in the series that have been transformed into an 8-film adaptation, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham-Carter, Emma Thompson, and many more famous faces. The star-studded cast helped bring the magical world to life and has become one of the highest-grossing film series of all time.
The books and accompanying films started innocently, aimed mostly at children who read about Harry discovering a life of wizardry, learning spells, and making friends along the way. However, the books get progressively darker as they go on and the themes become more complex and harder for children to follow.
After the finale of her world-renowned book series, J.K. Rowling began writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was also made into a film adaptation starring Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law. This story acts as a prequel to the Harry Potter series, featuring the early life of Albus Dumbledore, the old and wise headmaster Harry knows so well.
She later co-wrote the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which features Harry as a father, whose son is struggling with his father’s famous legacy.
Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, she entered the adult fiction scene, writing mysteries and detective fiction, steering away from her success in the fantasy genre.
Although her books are still adored worldwide, the popularity of J.K. Rowling has waned in recent years, after she made a series of transphobic comments on Twitter. So, if you don’t want to support Rowling’s success and you’re looking for another fantasy world to dive into, here are 20 authors that can help you escape reality.
This fantasy author is known for writing His Dark Materials. The latter is a coming-of-age story very similar to the premise of Harry Potter, following a young girl who is tasked with saving her world from the Magisterium, which restricts magical ability and relationships with their magical creatures, daemons.
A tale of knowledge, power, magic, and identity, His Dark Materials is a fantastic story that will fill the Harry Potter-shaped hole in your life.
Best known for creating The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins is a fantastic fantasy author aimed at audiences of any age.
The Hunger Games is set in the Capitol of Panem, made up of 12 districts. Each year one boy and one girl from each district are chosen to fight in the Hunger Games, a nationally televised event that forces the youths to fight to the death until only one player remains.
This is a 4-book story of love, loss, hardship, and danger. Katniss Everdeen has no experience, so she must rely on her instincts and limited skill to survive.
A classic fantasy writer, known especially for his book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis is often marked as a children’s writer, perhaps due to his protagonists all being young children.
4 children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are evacuated to the English countryside during the Second World War. When Lucy finds a magical, snowy land in the back of a wardrobe, their lives change forever. When they encounter magic, creatures, and spells, their perception of reality changes, and when Edmund betrays them, they are forced to fight for their brother and their new country.
Veronica Roth is less well-known than the first three big names on this list, however, she should not be overlooked. Veronica Roth wrote the Divergent series, which has since been made into a 3-film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James.
In a society divided into five factions, every citizen upon reaching adulthood must choose a faction to commit to for life. But what if you don’t fit anywhere?
This story is set in a futuristic world and tackles identity issues, love, and betrayal. Intended for the young adult (YA) audience, this series may not be suitable for children under the age of 12, unlike the first few Harry Potter books.
This Ecuadorian-American author is a brilliant fantasy writer known for her series Brooklyn Brujas. The 3-book series depends on wizardry and magic, much like Rowling’s world, and follows Alex, a bruja, the most powerful witch in her generation.
But when you hate the idea and use of magic, what use is magical power? This story is about magic, duty, dependency, and healing. Aimed at a younger audience, but can be enjoyed by readers of any age – this is a fantastic Harry Potter lookalike!
Arguably the most significant fantasy author of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien is responsible for the creation of Middle Earth, telling the story of hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, orcs, and men in his fantastic Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series.
Tolkien’s writing is perhaps too complex for young readers and some of his themes are intense and graphic, so maybe miss this one if you’re looking for book recommendations for children. However, don’t forget to pick it back up when they reach an appropriate age! This story is iconic and for good reason.
After inheriting a ring he never knew his uncle had, Frodo, with the help of his wizard friend Gandalf, realizes it is the most powerful ring in the world and must be destroyed before it falls into the wrong hands. If you’re a lover of fantasy books, Tolkien is a must-read author!
This is a story set in a world run by fear and lacking magic. Zelie, grieving her mother’s murder and desperate to rebel, now finds herself protecting runaway princess, Amari, who carries the key to restoring magic to the world.
Founded in west-African tradition, this fantasy novel explores dark magic, authority, power dynamics, violence, monarchy, and class discrimination. A perfect blend between real-life issues and fantastical elements.
American novelist Lev Grossman wrote the popular series The Magicians, the 4-book series that, like Harry Potter, follows a boy learning magic in college.
The books have been made into a popular television series with the same name, which experienced 5 seasons of success.
Grossman’s books are possibly the most similar to the Harry Potter franchise, following similar themes and being set in a magical school.
British author, famous for writing How to Train Your Dragon has also written a book series called The Wizards of Once. Her literature is mostly aimed at younger children but can be enjoyed by any reader.
The Wizards of Once is a 4-book series that merges magical wizards with non-magical warriors. This award-winning franchise features magic, spells, and enchantment, perfect for introducing younger children to the fantasy genre.
Rick Riodan is famous for writing the Percy Jackson series, which merges fantasy with Greek mythology.
Like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson lives in the mundane human world until he discovers his powerful family line lived in a different world. Percy Jackson discovers he is a demigod, the son of Poseidon, and must learn to control and master his newfound powers.
Ransom Riggs is the American writer and filmmaker known for bringing to life Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.
This novel follows Jake who, through clues left by his grandfather, discovers new worlds and times and finds a magical place called Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. Navigating the new magic, dangers, and enemies he is exposed to, Jake must save himself and his friends.
This American novelist is best known for creating the Twilight series, which follows a high school girl that falls in love with a vampire. Open to new worlds of dark magic, werewolves, and vampires, she must try to keep safe.
This series is more YA than children’s fiction, it toys with fantasy, merging the genre with comedy and romance.
Susanna Clarke is a varied author, who has written a range of novels spanning across genres. Her debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is an alternative history novel that also plays with fantastical elements. Her recent success was through the mythological book Piranesi, which blended Greek mythology with fantasy, psychology, and crime.
This German author specializes in children’s fantasy fiction. Her bestseller, Inkheart, explores the changing life of Meggie, whose father can read things and settings out of books, physically bringing her fantasies to life.
This innovative novel, part of the Inkheart trilogy, is an insightful, magical, yet horrifying narrative that toys with the juxtaposition of the beauty and danger within fantasy worlds.
This English author has dipped into many genres including short fiction, novels, comic books, theatre, and graphic novels.
Known for writing the creepy Coraline novel, Good Omens, and Stardust, this author is no stranger to writing fantasy. Each novel produces something new, experimenting with magic and different worlds. They’re must-read novels if you enjoy fantasy.
This Israeli-American writer is known for her contribution to YA fantasy, through her Grishaverse novels.
The Shadow and Bone trilogy, Six of Crows, and King of Scars series have all received awards. Exploring themes of mysticism, power, love, and ambition, these novels are a great choice for any fantasy lover.
Famous for writing The Alchemyst, Michael Scott writes YA fiction, children’s fiction, fantasy fiction, and thrillers.
The novel follows San Francisco teenagers who get wrapped up in a century-long battle involving a book. The Alchemyst tells the story of Nicholas Flamel, who Potter fans will know from the first book.
A fantastically written and creative story that’s perfect to read as a (kind of) prequel to Rowling’s books.
Cassandra Clare is known best for creating The Mortal Instruments, a series that follows Clary, an ordinary girl with the powers to see magical things unattainable to other humans.
Clary becomes involved in a whole new world, filled with magic, demons, vampires, and faeries, and is forced to uncover the secrets of her family and her identity.
It opens the reader up to new fantasy realms, creatures, and secrets, beginning with an enchanted manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
British writer Jonathan Stroud has won prestigious awards for fantasy fiction and children’s writing. He is best known for the Lockwood & Co. series, which follows the teenage ghost inspector, Lucy Carlyle.
If you enjoyed the supernatural, ghostly elements in the Potter series, you’ll love Stroud’s series.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many copies have the Harry Potter book sold?
More than 500 million copies have been sold worldwide.
What age is it appropriate to read Harry Potter?
It’s marked as Middle Grade, not YA, meaning that children aged between 8-12 can read the books. However, parents should be aware that the themes get increasingly dark as the books go on and should monitor the child’s reading if they’re young.
In what order should you read the Harry Potter books?
1. Sorcerer’s Stone
2. Chamber of Secrets
3. Prisoner of Askaban
4. Goblet of Fire
5. Order of the Phoenix
6. Half-Blood Prince
7. Deathly Hallows
8. Cursed Child
What is the most popular fantasy book?
It depends on your preference for fantasy style, but George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series is high on the list. Along with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.
What are the sub-genres for fantasy books?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are several fantasy book genres our readers love:
– Epic Fantasy
– High Fantasy
– Dark Fantasy
– Sword and Sorcery
– Urban Fantasy
– Paranormal Fantasy
– Historical Fantasy
– Romantic Fantasy
– Fairy Tales
– Alternate History
– Steampunk Fantasy
– Gaslamp Fantasy
– Mythic Fiction
– Fairytale Retelling
– Arthurian Fantasy
– Celtic and Norse Fantasy
– Wuxia Fantasy
Bonus: The 10 Most Popular Fantasy Books of all Time
1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954-1955)
2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1950-1956)
5. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (1996)
6. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (1990-2013)
7. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
8. The Dark Tower by Stephen King (1982-2004)
9. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks (1977)
10. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001