I know, I know, none of these book are ever going to compare to Harry Potter, but that isn’t the point. They’re not trying to replace the hole in your heart when the last book/film came out, they’re just giving you something else to enjoy. Whenever I’ve needed a heavy dose of magic mixed with reality, these are the stories that have waited for.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) by Rick Riordan
Constantly in trouble in school, and recently convinced his algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him, Percy learns that he’s not just any normal kid. Eventually he finds out that he’s the son of Poseidon and a demigod, and is sent to Camp Half Blood where he meets the children of the other Gods. After someone steals Zeus’ master lightning bolt, Percy goes on a quest to find it, preventing a war between the Gods in the process.
With 5 books in the series and a sequel series called the Heroes of Olympus, there’s plenty of more stories to read in this universe. Like Harry Potter, it plays on every child’s wish that a magic letter would arrive on their doorstep or that their dyslexia is because they’re tuned to read ancient Greek, not English.
The Iron Trial (Magisterium) by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
If I give you a short description of the Magisterium series it will sound like Harry Potter. Callum Hunt takes a test to find out whether he gets a place at the Magisterium, but unlike everyone else taking the test Call is actively trying to fail. His father has told him horror stories about the Magisterium, about the war between the mages and the ‘Enemy of Death’ and Call would rather not go. Of course, he ends up at the Magisterium (otherwise there wouldn’t be a story, would there?) but his inner commentary gives a different take from the perspective of someone who doesn’t want to be there.
There are currently three books and it’s still ongoing, with 5 books scheduled to be in the series. Though it sounds cliche, with a fight between the bad guy and the ‘chosen one’, the Magisterium series flips all the tropes on their head. For a start, Call isn’t the ‘chosen one’, that title belongs to his friend but it also show the representation I think people have since wanted to see in Harry Potter. The protagonist is disabled, with Call having a limp due to his leg. Tamara from the ‘trio’ is Muslim and of Iranian descent and Jasper (another prominent character – especially in the second book) is half-Japanese.
The Potion Diaries (Potion) by Amy Alward (titled Madly in the US)
A completely different and uniquely fluffy read, the Potion Diaries felt in some ways like a contemporary to me even though it was in a purely fantasy world. Set in a world where magic is common place, but technology has still waged on. Royal parties are shown on television and the Princess walks her own red carpet. Samantha Kemi is an alchemist apprentice in her family shop that’s being ran out of business by the ZoroAster megapharma company. So when the Princess accidentally takes a love potion and falls in love with herself, a hunt begins for a cure and Samantha decides to take her family’s place in the competition in hopes of winning the prize.
There are currently two books in the series, but I don’t doubt they’ll be more. Featuring a PoC protagonist, and bringing a completely new feel to a fantasy world, this has to be one of the more unique reads. Sure, it’s nothing like Harry Potter but it still has the fun and the crazy quest feel, except this time the quest is constantly updated on social media.
Carry On (Fangirl) by Rainbow Rowell
After reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the first thing I wanted to do was reread Carry On. It would probably be wise to read the contemporary novel Fangirl beforehand in order to understand what Carry On is but I’ll do my best to explain. Carry On is the (fanfiction) final book of a fictional 7-book series, based on Harry Potter (or based on fanfiction of Harry Potter?) mentioned in Fangirl, Meta, right?
Simon Snow is the Chosen One, meant to kill the evil Humdrum, an entity that can essentially make magic ‘black’ spots. His roommate/nemesis is missing, and instead of being relieved, he spends all his times worrying about what evil things Baz is up to this time. Sure it has magicians, ghosts, vampires and an ultimate evil, but more than any Carry On is a gay love story. Which is essentially what people wished the Cursed Child was.
Half Bad by Sally Green
Instead of the ‘magicians’ side of magic based on a system of magic schools, Half Bad looks at the more spiritualistic witch side. There are White Witches and Black Witches and then there is Nathan. His mother was a White Witch and his father was a Black Witch, all his life he’s faves prejudice for this and treated as bad because of who his father is – the most hunted Black Witch.
It’s a unique read, the writing style is very fast paced and the combination of writing in first and second person (yes, Half Bad is the only book I’ve read to successfully utilise second person) it really brings you into the character. Like Harry Potter, Nathan is English, but it’s a completely different and darker look at the magical world. Creating the disparity of White/Black witches forces you to question where good and evil really rest on the spectrum. Half Bad is a completed trilogy, which include the sequels Half Wild and Half Lost.
And that’s my top 5 suggestions for fans of Harry Potter. Have you read any of these and what books would you recommend?