I’ve been seeing requests for book recommendations with a Harry Potter-ish feel to them lately. I’ve been thinking about it and have a few suggestions. Let me know if you’ve read them, if they look interesting, or which books I may have missed!
Older Elementary/Middle-grade books:
The Magisterium Chronicles by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst — and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .(taken from Amazon)
This older child/middle grade fantasy series will definitely scratch a Potter itch. Prophecies? Check. A ‘Chosen One’? Check. A hidden magical school? Check. A small group of incorrigible kids who can’t stay out of trouble? Double check.
I’m honestly surprised that these books aren’t more well-known, considering the authors. Bonus points: the entire series is already out, so there won’t be any waiting for new releases.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. (taken from Amazon)
Full disclosure: I haven’t read these books. I have seen the movies, though, and my oldest has read the series and we’ve discussed it at length. I feel confident in putting the series on this list based on what I’ve seen and heard. If you like this series, my oldest says that the Kane Chronicles, also by Rick Riordan, are even better. Those have an Egyptian theme and my oldest was hooked.
Young Adult/New Adult:
Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare
Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. The events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. Whomever this new Simon might be.
But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. At least Simon’s trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.
Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. Written by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman, these moving and hilarious short stories are perfect for the fan who just can’t get enough of the Shadowhunters. (taken from Amazon)
So, here’s the thing about this book: it’s the only book in the Shadowhunter universe that I think fits the criteria for this post, but in order to understand it you need to read The Mortal Instruments. Go figure. That’s a major commitment, though, because there are six books in that series.
Tempests and Slaughter by Tamara Pierce
Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day–soon–he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies. (taken from Amazon)
Tamara Pierce is an excellent writer, which is what brings this book to the next level. While it certainly fits on this list with its magical school and mysterious goings on, this book also explores more mature subjects, such as slavery. I highly recommend this for the older reader.
School for Psychics by K.C. Archer
Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. Yes she’s resourceful, bright, and scrappy. But she can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.
When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.
In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself. (taken from Amazon)
This book is just similar enough to Harry Potter to include here, but different enough that I need to let you know to expect something wholly different. Brilliant, but different. This book feels more like a secret agent-meets- fantasy book and it’s an interesting combination.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it.
Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine.
She doesn’t in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister.
Ivy Gamble is a liar.
When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister―without losing herself. (taken from Amazon)
This very adult novel is set against the backdrop of a school for mages, complete with a “Chosen One” and some very unique twists on things seen in the Potterverse. Review to come.
What books would you add to the list? Do you agree with my picks?