If You Like...Harry Potter

Many of our readers have undoubtedly heard about the release of a new Harry Potter book next month on July 31 – the script of a stageplay called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, premiering in London this summer. Then there is the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie currently in production and set to premiere in November, along with a release of Rowling’s screenplay. The magic of Harry Potter is clearly still at large in our world today, a fact that makes many of the readers who grew up with the boy wizard and his friends thrilled and excited for both of these upcoming events. It can be difficult to find books that live up to the magic of Rowling’s series, but we have managed to scrounge up a few suggestions, if you’re tired of rereading the series (never!) or might like to branch out into other great fantasy stories:

The Lightning Catcher, Anne Cameron [JFIC CAM]
One of the great draws of the Harry Potter series is undoubtedly its main characters and his  relationships and interactions. The Lightning Catcher features a very similar trio of friends named Angus, Dougal and Indigo, who bond over their time spent as apprentices at the Perilous Exploratorium for Weather and Vicious Storms, studying dangerous weather and how to use their special abilities to protect the world from it – as well as those who would misuse that special knowledge and power…

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin [JFIC LEG]
This novel was around long before Harry Potter began enthralling readers and is well worth a read. Ged, also known as Duny or Sparrowhawk, distinguishes himself among his siblings – no easy feat – with his aptitude for magic. I suspect he would have been sorted into Slytherin were he a Harry Potter character, because from an early age, he shows great strength and an ambition to learn as much as he can, enjoying the power for power’s sake. After he saves his village from attack using his magic, he is sent off to learn more still, first from a mentor, whose valuable lessons he can’t quite seem to master, then at the school on Roke, where his magical skill flourishes and his desire for power and greatness deepens. So begins his struggle to become the greatest sorcerer Earthsea has ever known and his battles with darkness and evil -- both within himself and around Earthsea.

Midnight for Charlie Bone, Jenny Nimmo [JFIC NIM]
Jenny Nimmo’s Charlie Bone series came out in the early 2000s, around the same time as the Harry Potter books and features another boy who abruptly shows an aptitude for magic, much to his grandmother’s relief and both his and his mother’s dismay. When Charlie starts hearing voices coming from photographs, he also stumbles upon the mysterious disappearance of a girl, now his age, from many years ago – a disappearance that may be connected to his new school, Bloor’s Academy. Charlie faces evil both within his own family and out in a world much wider than he had known before.

Legacies, Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill [YSF LAC]

Spirit White has led a relatively normal life so far – or as normal a life as she could, having been named Spirit and growing up with hippy parents. She is aware of stories like Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings though she doesn’t, for even a second, believe that those stories could be even the slightest bit real – that is, until she finds herself suddenly orphaned and shipped off to Oakhurst Academy – an orphanage in Montana doubling as a school for magicians. Even there, though, her powers remain dormant despite her admittance and all of the classes and training she takes, focused on protecting herself from the evils that threaten her outside Oakhurst’s walls. But for all of its claims of protection and its Big-Brother-ish levels of knowledge about its inhabitants, Oakhurst hardly feels like a safe place itself…

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo, Obert Skye [YSF SKY]
Like Harry, Leven Thumps has grown up in the care of a relative - who would really rather not have taken him in if anyone had cared to ask – complete with less than desirable sleeping arrangements and no real friends at school. But fate has marked him in ways Leven could not even begin to imagine and he soon finds himself on a journey to save Foo, the place where dreams and imagination live, from the evil Sabine and his shadows with the help of some rather unusual friends.

Have other recommendations for others who love Harry Potter? Don’t forget to leave them, along with any suggestions for future “If You Like…” posts, in the comments!

-Denise Dolan, George Mason Regional Library

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