18 Books Like Harry Potter for Adults & Young Readers


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Are you searching for more books like Harry Potter for adults or young readers?

Love him or loathe him, Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon. What started as a fun series of children’s books has grown into an unstoppable global brand. The story of young Harry Potter who at the age of 11, discovers he’s actually a wizard has captured the hearts and minds of millions across the globe.

Movies, shows, theme parks and the countless spin-offs and merchandise can be found everywhere. Yet behind this simple coming-of-age story lies a magical truth: Harry Potter encouraged millions of children (and adults) to read.

For that alone, it deserves praise. Harry Potter has since become a gateway for readers to discover new, old and increasingly complex children’s and fantasy novels.

Whatever your views, the writing and reading community owe Rowling (and her agent) a debt of gratitude. So, what other books like Harry Potter are waiting to be discovered?

18 Books like Harry Potter

Pennyroyal Academy, by M.A. Larson

Books like Harry Potter for younger readers tend to have similarities.

In Pennyroyal Academy a young girl who has no memory of who she is, arrives in a bustling kingdom in the middle of war. She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, a place where princesses and knights are trained to battle the witches and dragons. Given the name ‘Evie’ by her new friends, she soon learns there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Pennyroyal Academy has more than a whiff of Potter-like magic to it, and younger readers should find much to enjoy here.

The Novice (Summoner 1), by Taran Matharu

Some books like Harry Potter aren’t afraid to wear their inspiration on their sleeve. Often described as a mix between Pokémon and Harry Potter (indeed, Matharu cites the Pokémon and Digimon universes as direct inspiration) the story follows Fletcher, a blacksmith apprentice who discovers the ability to summon demons from another world.

Fletcher travels to Adept Military Academy where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning in the hope of becoming a battle mage. However, Fletcher must be careful as he trains. There are plenty of children eager to seek alliances and stab each other in the back.

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The Novice is a fun and engaging thrill ride through multiple fantasy and video game tropes. Mana to summon demons and a magical school are nothing new, but the way they are employed is very appealing to any younger reader with an interest in games, fantasy and monsters.

The Legend of Greg (An Epic Series of Failures 1), by Chris Rylander

There are books like Harry Potter for younger readers that have their tongue firmly planted in cheek. The Legend of Greg is a magical adventure blended with a great sense of humour.

The story follows risk-averse Greg Belmont as he discovers magical abilities triggered by a strange tea his Dad brought home. Before Greg can begin to figure out what’s happening, his Dad is kidnapped by a killer Bro-Troll and Greg himself ends up in the secret underground world of the Dwarves… who’ve been living under Chicago for ages.

The Legend of Greg combines quirky humour with magic and if that’s not enough for you, than did I mention there’s a talking axe too?

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

People often ask for books like Harry Potter for adults. The Goblin Emperor is a good entry for any adult looking to move beyond Hogwarts.

Maia is the Goblin son of the Emperor who lives in exile, that is until his father and the other heirs to the throne are killed in an “accident”. All at once, Maia is whisked into life at the Imperial Court, a place he has no schooling or taste for. However, Maia has to grow up fast before plots to depose him come to fruition.

I was immediately taken by The Goblin Emperor from the first page. Maia is entirely relatable to anyone who’s ever felt awkward or out of place. The story focuses more on character over plot and the varying and memorable array of characters easily carry you through the book.

This is well worth a read for any fan of Harry Potter looking for a darker yet still entertaining dose of fantasy.

The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners 1), by Jennifer Bell

There are many books similar to Harry Potter for younger readers, and The Crooked Sixpence is well worth a look.

Ivy and her irritating big brother Seb are faced with increasing levels of magical oddness after their grandmother is rushed to the hospital. Not only do intruders ransack their house, but a very odd police officer shows up to arrest them using only a toilet brush. Soon Seb and Ivy discover an underground world they had no idea existed.

Blending ideas seen in Neverwhere and Harry Potter, The Crooked Sixpence uses the concept of everyday objects that have magical properties. A fun and engaging read for any reader, but younger readers, in particular, will find a lot to enjoy here.

The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly

Do not be fooled by the cover art – The Book of Lost Things might look like Harry Potter for younger readers, but it is most definitely for adults. John Connolly made his name in very dark crime novels, and this dark edge is blended with magic throughout The Book of Lost Things.

12-year-old David is mourning the death of his mother and has only the books on his shelf for company. As the books begin to whisper at him, David is whisked into a world that is a dark and magical reflection of our own. Heroes and monsters are everywhere, all controlled by a fading king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

I first read this when it came out in 2006 and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Dark, magical and sad, this is Harry Potter for grown-ups.

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal 1), by Zen Cho

From books like Harry Potter for younger readers to books that throw you full-throttle into a high fantasy setting, Sorcerer to the Crown was a magical debut.

Zacharias Wythe is a freed slave and highly proficient magician. He ventures to the Fairyland border to try to find out why England’s magical stocks are all drying up. However, when Zacharias meets a woman of immense power, he soon realises the nature of magic is about to be changed forever.

This is a longer read, but it is well worth it. Cho’s prose is interesting and the characters will follow you into your dreams. Whilst it has been compared to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, there is a lot more magic in Sorcerer to the Crown. Highly recommended for any adult who enjoyed Harry Potter.

Magyk, by Angie Sage

The first in the Septimus Heap series, Magyk presents the reader with people who are born to be wizards and people who aren’t. That should sound familiar to any Harry Potter fan, but twists the “chosen one” trope on its head when the title character is replaced with an abandoned baby right at the start.

That alone made me want to find out what was going to happen. Filled with the usual children study magic at school tropes, Magyk is worth putting on any younger reader’s list.

The Young Elites, by Marie Lu

Books like Harry Potter can get dark and grim. The boy wizard began in light-hearted fashion before gradually descending into a cauldron of teenaged despair and hormones.

The Young Elites follows Adeline Amouteru, a survivor of a horrible blood fever that swept through her land ten years ago. Adeline is one of the few children that did survive and they are all rumoured to have developed mysterious gifts.

There’s a lot going on in this dark fantasy, but the characters are great, the romance is light, the villain is complex and the hero even has a physical scar. Harry Potter for slighter older readers.

Charmed Life, by Diana Wynn Jones

Twenty years before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in the US) was first published, Charmed Life hit bookshelves.

It tells the story of Cat and Gwendolen, two orphans who live on Coven Street. Gwendolen is a supremely talented and promising young witch, whereas Cat, well, he’s not so much. Yet Cat doesn’t mind, so when he and his sister are summoned to live in the famous Chrestomanci castle he thinks his luck is in.

Gwendolen on the other hand is frustrated that the witches at the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents. So she comes up with a scheme that could throw worlds into chaos and risk her brother’s life.

If you’ve ever had a sibling rivalry, there is a lot in this novel to enjoy and identify with. Gwendolen might seem serene and talented on the surface, but there’s a much darker edge to her character that is gradually revealed. A good read for younger readers and fans of Harry Potter.

His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman

There are books like Harry Potter for younger and older readers combined. His Dark Materials (comprising of Northern Lights – The Golden Compass in the US -, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) introduces readers to an alternate version of our own world and a young girl called Lyra Belaqua.

In the alternate version of Oxford, Lyra lives with her daemon Pantalaimon at the university. In Lyra’s world, human souls live outside their bodies in the form of physical daemons, which take the shape of familiar animals.

She enjoys her life there, but dark magical forces are approaching as the icy Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel arrive separately on their own missions regarding the existence of ‘dust’, a magical substance that might contain the secrets of the multiverse, and… well to say more would be to spoil the plot.

Suffice to say, His Dark Materials is a fantastic and morally complex trilogy to read if you’re growing a little tired of re-reading Harry Potter.

Already know and love this series? Check out our list of books like His Dark Materials!

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, by Emily Croy Barker

Books similar to Harry Potter for adults often cross-age groups as well. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic is a fairy tale mixed with dark fantasy and aimed at both a teen audience as well as older readers.

Nora Fischer is having a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding. She’s still getting over her own breakup so wander off. Nora suddenly finds herself in another realm where she meets the very glamourous Ilissa and her handsome son Raclin.

Nora thinks she’s landed in a dream come true before everything shatters and the nightmare begins. This is a fun story, well told and filled with genuine surprises.

The Worst Witch, by Jill Murphy

I grew up reading Mildred Hubble’s adventures in school. I remember ordering the third book – A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch – from my school book club when I was nine.

Many books like Harry Potter were on children’s bookshelves years before the boy wizard was a twinkle in Rowling’s eye. The Worst Witch is one of them and Mildred’s adventures are aimed at the same audience range as Harry Potter.

Like Harry, Mildred is not a particularly talented witch. She messes up spells, her tabby cat is afraid of flying on the back of her broomstick and class-bully (and teacher’s pet) Ethel is a thorn in poor Mildred’s side.

Fortunately, Mildred has a friend in Maud who helps Mildred navigate her way through classes. Yet trouble is brewing, and the young witches will need all their wits about them as an evil witch plots to take over the school.

This is a fantastic read for any young reader looking for a magical fix.  

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

Firmly in the YA audience category, Sabriel is the first in Garth Nix’s fantasy series about Sabriel, a girl sent to a magical boarding school as a young child. Sabriel is smart, strong and a well-balanced interesting character.

Perhaps the most telling point of this book is that it doesn’t treat the intended audience as children. A blend of magic and terror permeates the story and you find yourself frequently biting your tongue as you wonder how Sabriel is going to survive.

If you’re looking for books similar to Harry Potter for adults and young readers, then you should definitely check out Sabriel.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

If you’re looking for books like Harry Potter for adults and younger readers, A Darker Shade of Magic might be just the – ahem – ‘magic’ you’re looking for.

The story follows Kell, one of the last Antari (magicians with the rare ability to travel between parallel Londons). Officially, Kell is an ambassador for Red London. Unofficially, she’s a smuggler, helping those willing to pay, to cross the borders between worlds. Naturally, Kell’s little secret exposes her to some serious trouble.

The characters of this story are colourfully weird and likeable enough to root for. Kell is great and there’s even a cross-dressing pirate who turns up. If you love Harry Potter but are in the market for something more daring, you should definitely pick up A Darker Shade of Magic.

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

Fantasy books for adults like Harry Potter can sound like a tall ask. Enter A Discovery of Witches. This is a cross between Interview with a Vampire and supernatural romance novels akin to Twilight.

Diana Bishop is an Oxford University researcher working deep in the stacks of the Bodleian library when she uncovers a bewitched alchemical manuscript. As Diana is descended from a long line of witches, she wants nothing to with magic so buries the book back in the stacks.

Unfortunately, Diana’s discovery has attracted the attention of the underworld and she soon finds herself in the middle of a race to break the book’s spell. A little slow to start, A Discovery of Witches soon picks up pace when the vampires and demons begin swirling around Diana.

If you enjoyed Harry Potter, but are looking for something more mature, this is a good book to read.

Already know and love this book? Check out our list of more books like A Discovery of Witches!

Midnight for Charlie Bone, by Jenny Nimmo

There are some books like Harry Potter for younger readers that just scream “Read me now!”

Charlie Bone is the lead protagonist here and he has a special power – he can hear people in photographs talking. Charlie has inherited the powers of the Red King and no one expected him to.

Shipped off to Bloor Academy by his not-very-nice aunt, Charlie finds himself surrounded by other magical geniuses and the opportunity to discover hidden truths and dangers.

Midnight for Charlie Bone has been accused of being a direct rip-off of Harry Potter but aside from the academy, the story is different enough to keep you entertained. For one thing, Harry Potter was not the first book to use a ‘magical school setting’ so the accusations should be treated with a pinch of salt.

Any child who likes Harry Potter will find plenty to enjoy here.

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

There’s a reason Diana Wynne Jones appears on this list twice – she was an amazing children’s and adult author. If you’re looking for books like Harry Potter for younger readers, Howl’s Moving Castle is an essential stop on any book tour.

Sophie is the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail in life if ever leaves home. When she decides to seek her own fortune, she, unfortunately, annoys the Witch of the Waste and finds herself transformed into an old woman. Now her only chance of breaking the spell is to find the always-moving castle in the hills and its master, the wizard Howl.

Sophie is flung headlong into a witty, magical and at time dark adventure that has her questioning her own preconceptions about herself and the seemingly aloof Howl. This is a book filled with wonder, magic and bittersweet emotions. You would be a fool to overlook this gem.

Harry Potter has enchanted millions of readers for years, but he wasn’t the first character on the block to cast a spell or wave a magic wand. He definitely won’t be the last either. The books above are ones we believe readers of the boy wizard’s adventures will enjoy. However if you feel we’ve been placed under the Imperius curse and have forgotten a few titles, please let us know in the comments below.

Are you looking for more books like Harry Potter for younger readers and adults? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!

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John is a writer for Books Like This One, a website helping you find more books to read! He loves reading science fiction, fantasy and contemporary literature.

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