September has been a huge month for Potterheads. Author J.K. Rowling tweeted major news on September 1, and we all began to speculate about the possibility of Harry Potter sequel featuring The Boy Who Lived's firstborn son, James Sirius Potter. So far, Rowling has kept mum on the topic, but that doesn't mean your reading life must be devoid of magic.
The Harry Potter series stands out above and beyond other books in many readers' memories. The volumes that make up the back half of the franchise are some of the lengthiest many readers have ever completed, and the seven-book series is among the longest in a genre that includes Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Put simply, reading Harry Potter is an experience: it gives you a book hangover and makes every other book seem dim by comparison.
Finding another book series that will resonate with you the way Harry Potter did is difficult, if not impossible. But the 12 series I've selected here may be just the thing to get you through the next two years, which you'll spend waiting for Rowling to announce Albus Severus Potter's departure from King's Cross Station. The next time you think about rereading Harry Potter — not that that isn't a viable option — try one of these series on for size instead.
The Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo
Jenny Nimmo's Children of the Red King series follows Charlie Bone, a young boy with a special gift: he can hear photographs talking. Well, not really talking, but thinking. Charlie is one of the Red King's descendants, and so he — like the other students at the Bloor's Academy — inherited some of his ancestor's powers. The adventures begin in Midnight for Charlie Bone .
The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix
Australian author Garth Nix has two series on this list, the first of which is The Keys to the Kingdom . These books are geared toward younger readers in grades 3-7, but trust me: you won't be able to put them down. Protagonist Arthur Penhaligon is the Rightful Heir of the House, but he must defeat each of the Morrow Days in order to fulfill his destiny. Begin your reading with Mister Monday .
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events has been one of my favorites since I picked it up in the early 2000s. After the tragic deaths of their parents in a house fire, the three Baudelaire siblings are sent to live with their — geographically — closest relative, a distant cousin named Count Olaf, whose sole wish is to kill the orphans and take their fortune. Starting with The Bad Beginning , the 13-book series follows the orphans as they are forced to outwit Olaf and look for a safe place to call home.
The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
In the first Book of Ember, the titular City of Ember has existed for decades too long, and the secrets to the city's salvation may have been lost to time. With supplies running out and tempers running short, it's up to two children to bust all the myths and figure out how to save everyone they know and love.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Like Harry Potter, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy wound up on the receiving end of flack a-plenty from religious circles. The first installment, The Golden Compass , centers on Lyra Belacqua, a young girl who must fight deep-seated, wicked corruption in the major religious institution of her world. The series' steampunk setting and intricate ideas will pull you in from the very beginning.
Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
Based on the Welsh Mabinogion, Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain will remind you of the King Arthur legends. The first volume, The Book of Three , features a psychic pig, an Assistant Pig-Keeper destined for greatness, a king-turned-bard, a homeless princess, and a cowardly creature named Gurgi. Together, this ragtag group must find a way to defeat the Horned King before he brings ruin to the land of Prydain.
Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Nix returns to this list with his Abhorsen series. It all begins with Sabriel , the necromancer Abhorsen's daughter, who must take up her father's gear and travel into the magical Old Kingdom when she receives a message from beyond the grave. The evil Kerrigor has returned, and it's up to Sabriel — aided by a few other magical types — to keep both kingdoms out of his clutches.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
What if the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was real, but Lewis Carroll changed all the facts? That's the premise behind Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars , in which Alyss is a refugee princess, protected by Hatter Madigan and pursued by the Cat, following a royal coup by her aunt, Redd. Now Alyss is in our world, and she's forced to reconcile memories of her childhood with the insistence from those around her that they're all nothing more than her imagination.
Leven Thumps by Obert Skye
The first installment of Obert Skye's Leven Thumps series follows two mistreated children — the titular Leven and Winter Frore — as they find their rightful places in the dreamworld of Foo. Tasked with saving the fantastic realm from evil forces, and with restoring the rightful ruler to power, Leven and Winter must discover and harness their true powers as mysteries continue to unfold. The story begins with Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo .
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
After learning that he is not really a woodtroll, the adopted Twig sets off on a journey through the treacherous Deepwoods to find out who — or what — he truly is. This is the story told in Beyond the Deepwoods , the first installment of The Edge Chronicles from Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. Lushly illustrated and wittily told, these books weave a wonderful fantasy world in which you can't help but lose yourself.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
With a film adaptation on the horizon, now is the perfect time to read Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. The first book follows the eponymous Artemis: a wealthy young criminal mastermind bent on stealing elves' gold. It's up to Holly Short of the LEPRecon unit to stop him, but not without the help of Foaly, a paranoid centaur, and Mulch Diggums, a nasty-but-useful dwarf.
Inkworld by Cornelia Funke
In Cornelia Funke's Inkworld series, a young girl named Meggie discovers that her father, Mo, has an amazing gift: whatever he reads aloud comes to life. When one of the characters Mo draws into their world kidnaps and enslaves him, it's up to Meggie to help rescue him and put the fictional figures back in their rightful places. Begin Meggie's adventure by picking up Inkheart today.