This article will be the ultimate guide to picking a new fantasy book. Whether it’s for yourself, a friend, or a child, this extensive list will give you all the information about a wide variety of fantasy novels and series that you can sink your teeth into.
There are many different types of fantasy: mythological fantasy, magical fantasy, dark fantasy, superhero fantasy, etc, but this list will predominantly focus on magical fantasy.
Some of the most famous fantasy stories combine magic and mysterious creatures, and typically surround a quest or journey of some sort. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit prequels are examples of some of the best fantasy stories out there. They combine wizardry with different species, magic, creatures, and legends to create one of the most well-read novel series ever written.
George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones is another gritty fantasy novel set in mysterious lands and featuring magical creatures, powers, and wars.
These two fantasy novels are a fantastic starting point if you’re looking to delve into the fantasy genre but it should be noted that the themes in Game of Thrones are very adult and should not be consumed by anyone under the age of 16 and the language of The Lord of the Rings is difficult to follow and will be hard for younger audiences to read.
This is why J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a brilliant in-between, suitable for readers of any age and tackling many of the same themes.
If you haven’t already read the famous Harry Potter books here’s a little taster of what you’re missing out on.
The story follows an orphaned boy called Harry Potter who lives with his ordinary, yet cruel, Aunt and Uncle. His parents died when he was a baby and left behind a magical legacy that Harry had no idea about until his 11th birthday.
After receiving mysterious letters from a magical school called Hogwarts, Harry becomes exposed to a whole new world filled with spells, magical creatures, mysterious lands, and enemies he didn’t know he had.
The first book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone depending on where you are in the world) explains the magical line that Harry descends from and follows his integration into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
He makes friends and enemies within days of entering the magical world and has to grapple with the legacy that he was unknowingly born into.
The 6 books that follow in this iconic series develop Harry’s character, his relationships, his schoolwork, and his attachment to the dark and evil wizard, Lord Voldemort.
These books are so cleverly written, incorporating real psychological elements that align with friendships, love, familial ties, grief, and loss, all the while centering on the magical world that Harry becomes a key part of.
If you’re a fantasy fan and you haven’t yet read the Harry Potter series, we highly recommend that you read these books alongside any of the following books that take your fancy.
If you’ve watched the Harry Potter films that became one of the highest-grossing film series of all time and you think there’s no need to read the books, think again. The nature of film adaptation means that so much of the detail, so much of what immerses the readers into the fantasy world gets missed out because they simply don’t have the screen time for it. The books will definitely teach you even more about the magical world you fell in love with on-screen and can help you delve deeper into Harry’s experiences at Hogwarts.
Whether you’re an avid fan of the Harry Potter books or you just love the sound of books revolving around magic, you’ve come to the right place. This list provides 30 recommendations for books like Harry Potter and will walk you through a synopsis and give you some detail about who these books will suit and what ages they’re appropriate for.
Regardless of who you have in mind while reading this article, we can guarantee that they’ll be something on this list for everyone to enjoy regardless of genre, age, or thematic preferences.
Without further ado, here are 30 fantasy books similar to Harry Potter to help you dive headfirst into magical worlds.
Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
With no idea of where she is, who she is, or how she got there, an unnamed girl appears in a magical kingdom and must adjust to her new surroundings.
She joins Pennyroyal Academy where knights and princesses are trained up for war against evil witches and dragons. She is given the name Evie and like Harry, must navigate a whole new world, make new friends, and determine who she can trust.
Pennyroyal Academy is a brilliant 3-book follow-on series from Harry Potter, exploring many of the same themes and targeted at a similar audience (if not a little younger). It combines action, humor, adventure, magic, and typical school issues to create a wonderfully immersive story that will keep you engaged until the very end.
The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron
This series is set on the island of Fincayra, which is a magical land positioned in between the sky and Earth’s land. It follows the young man, Merlin who battles with his magical powers.
The Lost Years of Merlin is set before he arrives in the story of King Arthur and the kingdom of Camelot.
This story features magical lands and creatures and follows the same trope as featured in Harry Potter, exploring the concept of learning to deal with magic and navigating a new world.
Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott
This is an absolute must-read if you enjoyed the Harry Potter books. If you’re a keen-eyed fan, you’ll recognize the name Nicholas Flamel.
This is the character that made the philosopher’s stone and dominated the background of the story. Flamel was Dumbledore’s close friend and this is the story that was hidden in J.K. Rowling’s originals.
Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel uncovers the truth about Nicholas Flamel, who turns out to be alive, despite his death being confirmed years before. This story acts as the prequel to the Harry Potter originals and helps to gain additional depth into the magical world that Harry delves into.
His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman
One of the most popular books in this series is The Golden Compass which grew in popularity after the release of the film of the same name featuring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
His Dark Materials follows a young girl who has a heavy destiny – she must free the world from the Magisterium which attempts to drive all the magic out of the world and rid the land of power and freedom.
Like Harry Potter, this book follows the coming-of-age period in a young adult’s life and complicates their personal stories with that of magical awareness, spells, power, and strange creatures.
This series is a heart-warming, comforting escape for many readers and with lovable characters and gripping plot lines, this is an unmatched favorite that is similar to Rowling’s series in so many ways.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan
Instead of focusing on adolescent characters, A History of Witches spans five generations of women – mothers and daughters – who each grapple with inheriting magical powers.
Like Harry Potter, the stories focus on the struggle between personal lives, integrating into a whole new world, and attempting to control the powers they never knew they had.
This story is set over the course of a century and so features different descriptions of historical settings and elements of different lives spanning from the 1820s to the modern day. It’s like Harry Potter, but with a historical, feminist, and generational twist.
Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern
A mysterious circus appears at night, featuring unbelievable tricks and impressive acts. But behind closed doors, there is a dark truth as to why this circus is here and how it operates.
Celia and Marco are the driving forces behind this wonderful arena. They are two magicians, trained from childhood to perform, succeed, and entertain.
Night Circus is a fascinating story of secrecy, love, magic, and fate.
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
This suggestion does not directly feature wizards and witches but the story is driven by magic and is set in an alternate world that runs parallel to our own.
Much like the wizarding world that Harry finds himself living in, this world is invisible to the human eye. The vampires, wolves, shadowhunters, and demons that run this alternate world cannot be seen by any human except Clary.
Clary is in a nightclub where she witnesses the brutal murder of a boy. She screams, alerting the attention of the group of shadowhunters that committed this crime, and finds herself entangled in this other world, dragging her further and further away from her mundane life.
Like Harry, Clary learns about her mother’s history as a shadowhunter and discovers powers, enemies, and creatures she never knew were possible. With the help and love of Jace, will Clary integrate with the world her mother tried so hard to protect her from?
The Mortal Instruments is a long series that will keep you asking questions at the turn of every page. Clare’s writing style is distinct and gripping, and her stories are definitely worth the read.
The Kane Chronicles Series by Rick Riordan
Most well-known for writing the Percy Jackson series, The Kane Chronicles are equally as fantastical and are brilliant for any fantasy lover.
The 3-book Kane Chronicles series is a perfect mash-up of Harry Potter and Indiana Jones, featuring humorous and lovable characters as they journey through magical lands, and hidden secrets, and embark on quests that will change their lives forever.
Siblings Carter and Sadie have been separated since their mother’s death. Sadie lives with her grandparents while Carter explores the world with their father and Egyptologist, Dr. Kane.
The gods of Egypt begin to wake up and Sadie and Carter are in danger. They must journey through different lands, identify clues about Egyptian history, and learn about their family’s past in order to secure their safety once more.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
This is an excellent choice for younger readers and acts as a brilliant stepping-stone read for children who aren’t yet ready for the dark themes featured in Harry Potter.
The Worst Witch is a 7-book series that follows Mildred Hubble and her adventures in Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches.
Unlike Hermione Granger, Mildred is one of the worst witches ever seen – she can’t do spells properly, she struggles to ride a broomstick, and she’s made enemies with all the wrong people.
She navigates magical school just like Harry, but her endeavors are a lot less successful and a lot more light-hearted for the younger audience.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This interesting series follows the Antaris, rare magicians that have been given the ability to travel through time, exploring a multitude of parallel London – Red, White, Grey, and Black.
Kell is one of these magicians, in fact, he is the last Antari. He works as a smuggler, allowing people to see a world they’ll never live in. When these visits begin to go wrong, Kell finds himself entangled in a web of dark magic and must do everything in his power to restore life back to normal.
A Darker Shade of Magic is the perfect book if you loved the setting and enchantment of magical England in Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
This is a brilliant fantasy series that explores the same ‘magical boarding school’ trope as the Harry Potter series.
Sabriel is just getting to terms with the idea of magic and how it influences life and death when her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing. She must venture into the Old Kingdom to return him to safety, but what she discovers on the way is terrifying and life-changing.
The Abhorsen Trilogy is captivating, well-written, and often overlooked as a fantasy classic.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This one doesn’t need much of an introduction. Many children are introduced to the land of Narnia from a young age and it’s often on-screen.
While the films are fantastic and really bring to life the magic and spirit of Narnia, the books are undeniably better. With glorious detail and immersive descriptions, C.S. Lewis’s writing can help you dive deeper into the magic and helps you understand the characters in more depth.
If you aren’t familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia, here’s a brief synopsis.
4 siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are evacuated to the rural English countryside during World War II to escape the Blitz. Upon arriving at the mysterious house, they find an intriguing wardrobe that transports them to another magical land called Narnia.
This 9-book series is the story of their adventures in this land. They become acquainted with new people, creatures, and magic, and discover their destinies lie far from the normal lives they lead in London.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is often one of the first suggestions you’ll see if you research ‘books like Harry Potter’.
Its story has a very similar basis, even corresponding with the orphan detail. This is a creepy, gripping tale of the discovery of an abandoned orphanage off the coast of Wales.
When 16-year-old Jacob discovers this building, he realizes that this is no ordinary orphanage and that the children residing there were a lot more than peculiar. As he uncovers the truth behind the orphanage, he begins to realize that these children may still be alive.
Kingston by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi
Kingston is a magician who has been experimenting with different types of magic. After hearing of his father’s disappearance, Kingston heads back to Echo City in Brooklyn determined to follow clues and uncover the truth about what happened to his father.
Diving deeper and deeper into the same trap that his father got caught in, Kingston must carefully navigate this place and the clues within it in order to keep himself safe. Using magic, instinct, and a lot of bravery, Kingston must find his father before it’s too late.
Kingston is a brilliant coming-of-age story that merges fantasy with urban realism. Great for fans of Harry Potter or any adolescent looking for something a little different to read.
A Wizard of Earthsea Series by Ursula K. Le Guin
When a 13-year-old boy casts a spell to save his town from complete destruction, Ogion the powerful mage suggests that he should become a wizarding apprentice.
He becomes Ged, destined to be the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, and learns under the watchful eye of Ogion.
But when Ged’s path crosses with that of the beautiful Elfarran, his priorities shift and his motivation becomes distorted. another side to him is unleashed in the form of the shadow.
Magical teaching, navigating new worlds, discovering your own powers, learning the difference between right and wrong… a lot of these themes sound familiar, right?
A Wizard of Earthsea is super similar to the Harry Potter series, so if you’re a fan be sure to check this series out.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Quentin is a senior in high school who secretly gets enrolled in a school of magic in New York. There, he learns the power of magic, how to control modern sorcery, and above all, integrates with a whole new group of friends who introduce him to love, alcohol, and sex.
Mixing the magic of Hogwarts with some of the more gritty, realistic facets of college life, The Magicians is a must-read for any Harry Potter fan. It blends magic with psychology and highlights the blurred line between good and evil and fantasy and reality.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorator
This is an intriguing novel that follows Sunny, a 12-year-old Nigerian girl with albinism. This means she has white skin, fair hair, and pale eyes, but still has African features. Albinism prevents her from playing outside and so she becomes an outcast among others her age.
But then she discovers she has magical powers. She is soon an integral part of a group of magic students who aim to develop society and change reality.
Akata Witch is deeper in its characterization of its protagonist and maintains larger identity-related obstacles, but both she and Harry undergo the magical education process, although for different reasons.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno Garcia
Inspired by Mexican folklore, this novel follows Casiopea Tun who dreams of a quiet life in Mexico. She lives a mundane existence until she accidentally unleashes the spirit of the Mayan god of death.
He demands her assistance as he tries to secure his throne from his brother. Conflicted, understanding that success would grant her the Mexican dream but failure could mean death, Casiopea journeys across lands, both real and mythological, to help secure her lifelong dream.
Gods of Jade and Shadow blends mythological with magical fantasy, adding a little Hispanic charm to the standard traditional fantasy genre.
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
The Inheritance Cycle is a best-seller and was transformed into a film adaptation called Eragon, which was equally as successful.
This story follows a 15-year-old boy who discovers a dragon egg and realizes he is destined to be a Dragon Rider.
The novel series follows his journey from scared teenager to almighty Dragon Rider and tells a powerful story of identity, magic, and destiny.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Magic For Liars is a fantastic blend of fantasy and detective fiction – a combination not often seen in the literary world!
Twins Ivy and Tabitha are very different. While Tabitha embraced her magical identity and began teaching at the Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, Ivy denied her magical instincts and became a detective instead.
However, when a murder uncovers from within the school Tabitha teaches at, Ivy and Tabitha’s paths are forced to collide and Ivy’s magical identity begins tugging at her conscience.
Shadow and Bone Series by Leigh Bardugo
One of the most well-read fantasy series in the YA section, Shadow and Bone is a must-read for all Potterheads.
Bardugo immerses her readers into a complex and gripping magical world run by magical hierarchies, royalty, and power.
The story follows Alina Starkov, challenged with the task of protecting her regiment from attack, but first, she must be trained to join the magical elite.
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
This series delves deeper into the lives of magical creatures. Fablehaven is a safe refuge for magical creatures, used to prevent extinction. It is regulated by ancient rules and ensures that all creatures live harmoniously.
However, when creatures start rebelling against these laws, mysterious evils are revealed and the caretaker and his two grandchildren must do everything in their power to get things under control again.
Fablehaven is a brilliant choice if you liked the Fantastic Beast series which also focuses more on magical creatures and animals.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This is one of the most common favorites among Harry Potter fans. Diana is a descendant of witches and finds an ancient scroll in a library in Oxford. What Diana doesn’t realize is that this manuscript has the ability to open the underworld.
Accidentally releasing evil and exposing her world to the risks of fantastical forces, she and her friend and vampire Matthew must discover how to navigate this fantastical land before it takes its own course.
A Discovery of Witches is a best-seller, merging magic with suspense and gripping readers from the first page.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
This innovative novel blends classic fairy tales with modern fantasy and magic schooling. Sophie is at the top of her class in the School of Good, hoping to go down in history like some of its best alumni: Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel to name a few.
However, Agatha is very different and alongside her black cat and mischievous attitude, belongs in the School of Evil.
But what happens when these two swap? Will they find their way back to their roots or will their true identities be revealed?
The School for Good and Evil is fantastic for any fantasy lover and is suitable for younger audiences.
The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page
This novel follows Janice, a cleaner who has always drawn the attention of others. People tell her their stories and share information they maybe shouldn’t have. She has a greater insight into the community than anyone else but what is Janice’s story and does she have the power to tell it?
The Keeper of Stories is not as directly similar to Harry Potter but is still a great read and has been recommended to fantasy lovers since its release.
Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden
Orphan Denizen Hardwick has read all the fantasy books about people like him who delve into mysterious fantasy worlds and uncover truths about their families and magic. He knows they’re all just stories.
But when he is attacked out of the blue he soon uncovers the fantastical world that lurks just outside his orphanage and this one is very much real.
Knights of the Borrowed Dark follows the classic orphan trope but uses monsters and dark magic as the base of its story, as opposed to the romanticized magical world that Harry lives in.
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Set in the late 1800s, The Witches of New York delves into spiritualism, scientific experimentation, and magical curiosity.
A group of women work as mediums, some truly gifted with magical intuition, some just good actresses, but when 17-year-old Beatrice joins this group, she exposes herself and her unknown powers and is forced to fight against the evil hidden within the city.
The Bartimaeus Series by Jonathan Stroud
Nathaniel, a magician’s apprentice, is 11 and fascinated by the world of magic, spells, and mystical creatures.
But when Nathaniel gets publicly humiliated by another magician, he decides to learn dark magic way beyond his capabilities to seek revenge.
Completing one of the most advanced spells in the magical world, he summons Bartimaeus and gets caught up in a web of lies, deceit, evil, and murder.
The Bartimaeus series is very similar to Harry Potter, filled with plot twists and turns and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Young Wizards Series by Diane Duane
13-year-old Nita is getting bullied at school. Seeking refuge in the safety of the library, a book about magic and spells fascinates her and offers an escape from the awful reality she finds herself in.
After learning basic spells she embarks on a simple quest which soon turns into a nightmare. She must use the little knowledge she has of magic to get herself back to safety.
The Young Wizards series is a brilliant book highlighting how magic and enchantment can frequently get romanticized in fantasy books.
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
After mysteriously surviving the touch of a usually lethal stone, Conn is driven into the world of magic and adventure by the man who owned the stone. Nevery decides to take Conn as his apprentice, recognizing his potential and natural magical ability.
But Conn has little time to learn before things all take a turn for the worst…
The Magic Thief is an excellent magical book for children. Easy to read, accessible for young readers, and gripping in the most fantastical way.
There are many ways to choose the right fantasy book for either an adult or a child. First, tune into the themes they enjoy reading, whether that be magic, creatures, quests, or a bit of everything, and then take a look at the language level. If you’re choosing a fantasy book for a child, you may want to rule out some of the older, more complex fantasy books that are riddled with long passages of intense description and use complicated vocabulary that will make the story harder to follow.
After identifying these two factors and narrowing down your options you can begin looking at online ratings for the books mentioned. Make sure to remember that each rating is a matter of opinion, so use this only as a guideline rather than a determinative factor.
We hope this list has provided you with some inspiration and we’re sure that at least one of the books mentioned on this list will be the perfect fit for whoever you’re buying for!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best fantasy book of all time?
It depends on what type of fantasy you’re after, but the best-selling fantasy books are Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and Rowling’s Harry Potter.
Can reading fantasy books impact the development of my child?
Yes, but in a good way. Allowing your child access to fantasy literature can help to boost their imagination and creativity, whilst also helping to improve their reading skills, vocabulary, and grammar understanding.
At what age can you read the Harry Potter books?
The first 2 novels can be read by children of any age, but be sure to note that the themes and plot lines get darker as the books go on. All books can be read by YA readers.
Why do people enjoy reading fantasy?
Many use fantasy stories as a method of escape from their reality. Life can be busy and stressful and so reading something literally out of this world can work as a relaxation technique.
What reading level is Harry Potter?
Most of the books fit into the ‘Middle Grade’ category, meaning children aged 8-12 should be able to follow the language without difficulty. However, just because the reading style is suitable for children does not mean the themes are appropriate. Be sure to read ahead or research to determine whether the themes covered in this series are suitable for your child.
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