One of the best forms of escapism for anyone is to imagine a fantasy world filled with magic.
Magical schools are still a fun topic for all ages, as many people have already read the Harry Potter series.
In this article, I’ll look at the best books about magical schools outside of Hogwarts that you should check out.
A Deadly Education By Naomi Novik
El Higgins is foretold to become a powerful evil sorceress, but she is more concerned about surviving up to graduation. However, her life gets turned upside down when her life is saved by Orion Lake, not once, but twice.
Soon, everyone talks about how the school hero saved her, and she realizes that she can’t survive her time at the Scholomance alone.
- It offers a fresh twist to the magical school formula by portraying the school negatively.
- Finalist for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.
- The first book sets up a trilogy.
- There is a lot of exposition from El’s perspective, so the writing style may not be to everyone’s taste.
- Due to its darker nature, some readers may not enjoy it if they’re looking for a light-hearted read.
A Wizard Of Earthsea By Ursula K. Le Guin
Ged, the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, was once known as the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his youth, he was hungry for power and knowledge, so he would release a terrible shadow upon the world.
In this tale, we can all see how Ged would become known as he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed through death’s threshold to restore balance to Earthsea.
- Known for being the first novel about a magic school.
- Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and contributed to Le Guin’s Margaret A. Edwards Award.
- The first book out of six in the Earthsea series.
- This was Le Guin’s first attempt at writing fantasy, and while it has a legacy in the genre, it sometimes suffers from telling the story instead of showing it.
- A Wizard of Earthsea is introspective, so it focuses on the personal experience of Ged more than the world around him.
Carry On By Rainbow Rowell
According to his vampire roommate, Baz, Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One to be chosen.
Now, there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. This is his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but Simon is infuriated that Baz didn’t even bother to turn up.
- Offers a different look at a magical school in the post-Harry Potter era.
- Nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction.
- The first book in the Simon Snow trilogy of novels.
- It is a metafictional novel that focuses on a strongly-inspired Harry Potter fanfiction from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, so it’s not the most original.
- It focuses more on romance than other elements in the magical school.
Equal Rites By Terry Pratchett
When a dying wizard attempts to pass his powers onto the eighth son of an eighth son about to be born, however, no one is prepared for the eighth son to be a daughter.
Now, a young woman goes to the esteemed Unseen University to learn magic in a chauvinistic and misogynistic environment.
- Equal Rites focuses on the descriptions of wizards and witches and how they don’t have to be gendered terms and introduces a magical university.
- The third book in the highly successful Discworld series by Terry Pratchett and the entry point to the Witches series.
- Due to being one of the early Discworld books, Terry Pratchett hasn’t found his voice yet and is exploring new perspectives of other characters.
Little Witch Academia By Terio Teri
Atsuko “Akko” Kagari dreams of becoming a real witch, and now she’s almost there by being accepted to the prestigious Luna Nova Witchcraft Academy.
With dreams of becoming like her childhood hero, Shiny Chariot, she doesn’t expect to be surrounded by prodigies.
As the only student from a non-magical family, Akko will do everything she can to make her dream a reality.
- Adapted from a short film and expanded on, with an anime series also produced.
- A fun series that combines a magic school with the magical girl genre.
- It may be difficult to read independently, with many recommendations to watch the anime first.
- Not the most original characterization, as many characters, revolve around the usual manga tropes, but an otherwise fun read.
Mashle: Magic And Muscles By Hajime Komoto
In this world, magic is everything, and everyone can use it. But, deep in the forest, a boy named Mash lives with his father. He has no magical powers, but he is a fitness god due to his daily training.
When he is discovered with no powers, he must attend a magical school to become an exceptional student known as the Divine Visionary.
But without magic, he needs to punch his way to the top spot so he can live in peace with his father again.
- An anime adaptation is currently being made.
- A parody of the magical school format that shows that magic isn’t everything.
- It’s very on the nose about being a Harry Potter parody, especially in the earlier volumes.
- The characters take a while to be developed in a way that makes them their own.
Ninth House By Leigh Bardugo
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is offered a second chance after surviving a horrific multi-homicide.
Attending Yale as a freshman, Alex must monitor the activities of the college’s secret societies and discover the occult activities in the eight windowless tombs.
Discovering the forbidden magic at play, Alex realizes they raise the dead and sometimes prey on the living.
- Winner of Goodreads Choice Award for Fantasy. Nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy, Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, Audie Award for Fantasy, and Ladies of Horror for Best Novel.
- It offers a different perspective on magic schools that combines real places with occultism.
- Some readers may prefer to avoid the heavy themes in Ninth House, which leans closer to horror than fantasy.
SuperMutant Magic Academy By Jillian Tamaki
SuperMutant Magic Academy is set in a prep school for witches and mutants. This book collects the most popular content from the SuperMutant Magic Academy webcomics.
Filled with everything you would expect from what high school is like for students with special abilities.
Fans can expect to find never-before-seen strips that conclude Tamaki’s account of her life at the academy.
- Won the Will Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens.
- Focuses on the forgotten adolescence of teenagers with magical powers.
- A comedy that focuses on shorts instead of an overarching narrative.
- If you’re looking for a series with an overarching plot, you may not enjoy this. However, if you want a collection of shorts to sit back and enjoy, you may like it.
The Black Mage By Daniel Barnes And DJ Kirkland
St. Ivory Academy is a historically white wizarding school, but it finally opens its doors to its first-ever black student.
With the belief that the wizarding community is becoming more inclusive, Tom Token, the school’s beneficiary, uncovers a conspiracy with his friend, Lindsay, that dates back to the American Civil War.
- Explores the idea of racial segregation in a magic school, delving into deeper topics.
- Unfortunately, it doesn’t go into as much depth about the magical school as it could have.
- It is a little heavy-handed, with the satire slightly too obvious.
The Irregular At Magic High School By Tsutomu Sato
In a world where magic has become a practical technology, two siblings: Tatsuya and Miyuki, are admitted to a prestigious magical prep school.
While Miyuki’s excellent entrance exam scores place her in Course 1, Tatsuya is relegated to Course 2 due to his poor performance.
Now, Tatsuya needs to use his clever thinking to devise a plan to keep themselves safe in a school where students learn to manipulate reality.
- Adapted into an anime, manga, and animated film.
- A unique twist on the magic school formula by combining it with science fiction.
- Part of a larger series of The Irregular at Magic High School light novels.
- Some readers may not like the writing style of this light novel and may be opposed to some themes.
- There are a few grammatical errors throughout the novel.
The Magicians By Lev Grossman
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. As a high school math genius, he’s fascinated by children’s fantasy novels to escape his disappointing life.
But when he’s unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret magic college, it appears his dreams have come true.
But he doesn’t expect that his newfound powers will lead him down a hedonistic route that leads to disillusionment, as the world he used as an escape is darker and more dangerous than he imagined.
- It shows us a world of magic that has been idealized, only for it to be darker than expected.
- Winner of the ALA Alex Award. Nominated for The Kitschies for Red Tentacle (Novel) and the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction & Fantasy.
- Adapted into a TV series of the same name.
- The plot is pretty bleak and depressing, offering an adult’s perspective on magical schools that is perhaps a little too realistic.
Every year, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables, but they don’t expect their protective spells to be broken through.
When one girl hurls a rock through the shield, the magicians go on a manhunt throughout the city to find her. After all, an untrained mage can’t be let loose around the city, or she may destroy herself and everything around her.
- It focuses on the classist structure that lies in the world of Magicians’ and breaking down barriers.
- Nominated for the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
- The first book in The Black Magician Trilogy.
- It is slow-paced, with the magical school featured more in the later books.
The Name Of The Wind By Patrick Rothfuss
Told in Kvothe’s own voice is a story of a magically gifted youth who will grow up to become the most notorious wizard in the world.
He talks of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, time spent as a near-feral orphan, and his brazen yet successful attempt to enter a legendary magic school.
This coming-of-age story follows Kvothe from his childhood to his time as a fugitive who was wanted for the murder of a king.
- Winner of the Quill Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and the ALA Alex Award.
- The first book is part of The Kingkiller Chronicle.
- It utilizes a mixture of traditional fantasy and subverts it with a magical school that serves as an opportunity for Kvothe.
- It has a very slow pace with some repetitive storylines that some readers may grow frustrated with.
Many of these books about magic schools have received awards, so it felt right to mention the awards for which they have both won and been nominated.
Some of these books have been adapted into films, TV shows, and more. If you want a series for which you can see the adaptation, then it would be best to mention what they could look for next.
Many of these books are part of a series. If you want to read a standalone novel or throw yourself into a new series, this could be a great way to see if you want to invest in something new.
Magical schools have been around for decades, so I mention how each book utilizes magic schools.
Many of these books appear differently, and not all of these books are made for children. Ultimately, part of the concept also includes themes of the books too.
Every author has a different writing style, so I wanted to mention if there are any elements that some readers may not enjoy.
Depending on the perspective, some readers may hate some books but love others. Likewise, this also includes grammatical issues that may be in the book too.
Lastly, some readers may not appreciate how some characters are written.
While this does tie into the writing style, this is also a point that stands on its own, as some books are written well but have poor characterization.
These are thirteen of the best magic school books you can read outside the Harry Potter series.
Over the years, magical schools have grown more prevalent, and everyone has put their own twist on the format to make them relevant to a wider audience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Was The First Magic School Story?
The magic school story first appeared in 1968 in Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. This novel introduces us to Roke Academy for the first time.
What Is The Most Famous Magic School?
The most famous magic school is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter series.
Published in the ‘90s, these books have popularized the magic school genre.
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