Thursday, August 30, 2012

Harry Potter Substitutes

Although the last Harry Potter book was released more than five years ago*, I still find myself searching for books to fill the HP hole in my bookworm heart. Fortunately, I have found some excellent fantasy novels that make the end of the HP series a little more bearable.

I recently inhaled A Discovery of Witches, the first book in the All Souls trilogy. It was on the NY Times bestseller list, and the next book in the trilogy was released last month, so I'm a little late to the All Souls party. Still, I feel morally obligated to tell you that if you are a Harry Potter fan, than you must try A Discovery of Witches. It involves witches, vampires, and a mysterious manuscript. It's intellectual with lots of details about alchemy, history and genetics; but it's also "fluffy" with details about food, relationships and clothes. Please read it.

I also loved Night Circus, a story about a "duel" between two young magicians. Erin Morgenstern created an enchanting world. You really feel like you are walking around the tents of the Night Circus when you read this book. Some haters complain that the plot is weak. It is - but that did not detract from the magical experience this book created. Books do different things. Some books create unforgettable characters. Other books have complicated stories with twists and turns. This book is about setting. Just as J.K. Rowling created Daigon Alley and Hogwarts, Morgenstern created the Cloud Maze and the Ice Garden. If you haven't visited the Night Circus yet, you should.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is another outstanding fantasy. I don't want to describe too much, because the reader should get to discover this unique world for herself. I will say that most fantasy books strongly resemble other fantasies. Even with books I love, I often find myself comparing the story or world to series like the  Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Miss Peregrine's Home, however, felt so original, there is no comparison. I cannot wait for the sequel!

The Magicians is a blend of Hogwarts and Narnia, but the mood of the book is darker. Much, much darker. I read this book over two years ago, but every month or two, I shake my head and think, damn, that was a really good book. There's a sequel, but I have not read it yet. I'm saving it for a rainy day.

Are you still trying to fill a hole in your heart left by Harry Potter? Found any good Harry Potter substitutes? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

* I can easily remember exactly when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released because it was the same day that Nathan and I went on our first date. We were having dinner, and I may have mentioned about a thousand times that bookstores would start selling Book Seven at midnight. Somehow, I managed to not scare my future husband away.

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