13 Stories to Help Fill the Harry Potter Void

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Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

I, along with many (most) of my fellow Rioters, am a huge Harry Potter fan.  Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are also a Potterhead (or Pottermaniac, if you prefer).  Given the proliferation of Harry Potter fanfiction and the level of excitement that is felt whenever J.K. Rowling releases even the smallest nugget of information about the Potterverse, this fandom is heart-felt and fierce.

The fact is that nearly eight years have gone by since the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,was published. That’s a long time to go without a series that grabs your attention and makes you feel like you’re a part of a whole other world. While I’m not sure that any series will ever capture our imaginations in quite the same way, we here at the Riot put together a little list of books and series that have helped us fill the Hagrid-sized hole in our hearts. Take a look:

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The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman

The first book is often described as Harry Potter for adults. It’s not an accurate description, but it’s not too far off, either.  The series is a homage to great works of fantasy, with nods to HP and a score of other titles. The biggest influence, though, is probably C.S. Lewis’ Narnia novels. If you love them, you’ll love this.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin

Earthsea is a world made up of vast seas and island nations.  The people live in literate, non-industrial societies, and magic plays a major role in the daily life of most of the planet’s inhabitants.  The world was introduced in a short story in 1968, and LeGuin published a number of novels and short stories set in that realm as recently as 2001.

The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

The three central novels of this series are set-up as the autobiography of a former adventurer and musician named Kvothe.  He has settled down in the quiet role of innkeeper, but his past is filled with stories that are more than worthy of being told.

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Finishing School series by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is a tomboy, and that makes her something of a disappointment to her mother. That’s how she ends up a student at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. There, she learns all the things her mother had hoped – poise, refinement, etiquette.  She also learns how to become a world-class spy.

The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix

The series begins with the story of Sabriel, a girl that has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom her entire life. But her father goes missing, and she has to find him. She is confronted with unfamiliar “free magic” and evil that she could never have imagined. Hers is just the first story in this tale.  Each novel focuses on a different character.

Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The Grisha trilogy chronicles the war-torn Rivka, a nation divided by the Shadow Fold. When a young soldier witnesses a brutal attack on her best friend, she demonstrates a power that may just be the key to putting an end to all the conflict.

Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon

This story is set in the not-too distant future and focuses on Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant who is thrown into a secret prison because her gift is considered treason. There, she meets a race of creatures who want to help develop and use her gift.  She must learn to trust them if she is going to escape her confinement.

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Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins

Sophie Mercer is a witch, a witch who can’t quite control her powers and attracts a little too much attention with a prom-night spell gone wrong. Her punishment is being sent off to a reform school for Prodigium (witches, faeries, shapeshifters). As tends to happen when a large group of other-than-average teenagers gets together, things get complicated.

The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy

This series has been a favorite of young readers for over 40 years, and if readers thought they had to wait a long time for Harry Potter’s 7 books, they should keep in mind that it took 39 years to get to book 7 in this series.  They are a delightful introduction to the world of witchcraft, however. They lack the darkness that permeates Potter’s tale, and concentrate more on the antics of a clumsy young witch named Mildred Hubble.

The Unwritten series by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

This series of comics tells the story of Tom Taylor, a boy who serves as the inspiration for his father’s wildly successful series of novels about a boy wizard.  There are some people who aren’t convinced that there isn’t some truth to the stories and that Tom is more than he seems. After encountering a very strange group that has been watching him his entire life, Tom begins to realize that his life is more of a mystery than he thought.

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

It’s a story about two magicians who emerge in an England that no longer believes in magic. Mr. Norrell makes them believers again, and when the charismatic Jonathan Strange appears, he takes him under his wing. The two team up to fight a common enemy, but Strange, enamored of the power at his control, takes things too far. Want a taste without turning a page? Check out the new BBC series.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is also a story about two magicians. They are rivals, and they make a bet about who can train the most skilled apprentice. It is a wager that dictates the lives of those two young apprentices. They know that it is a competition, and they understand their playing field – a circus. Its attractions are housed in beautiful black and white tents, and they only roll back the flaps at night. What they do not understand, however, is just how far they have to go for one the wager to be won.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

This is a personal favorite of mine in audio, and I am delighted to find that a sequel is on the way.  It’s a story about a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. It’s staffed by people with unusual abilities, and the organization, the Checquy, all educates and trains young people who are found to possess such abilities.  At the center of the story is Myfanwy Thomas, a Rook, one of the higher ranking positions within the Checquy.  She wakes up without a memory and has to follow the directions that she left for herself prior to whatever happened happening. It’s the only way she can do what she is meant to do and protect the world. Turns out that she’s got some pretty neat tricks up her sleeve. She’s one kick-ass lady.

What would you add to the list? Any books out there that have helped you miss Harry Potter a little less?


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