Let’s face facts: life is just a string of moments between Harry Potter rereadings. Ever since J.K. Rowling put her magical quill to parchment and penned the series that changed us forever, we’ve all been doomed to a life of answering every “What’s your favorite book?” query with a fervent and slightly suspicious “You mean… besides Harry Potter, right?” It’s the series we’ll always come back to, but it can’t be the only thing on our shelf. Here are some book recs to complement every version of Harry’s yearly crusade against the forces of nose-less evil.
If you love Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, try The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Hogwarts was one of the most immersive fantasy settings our young brains had ever conceptualized. Magic? Danger? Young heroes going toe-to-toe with EVIL? Sign me up! The Looking Glass Wars has all of that PLUS sword-clashing battles against the backdrop of seventeenth-centrury aristocratic society. In it, Wonderland is real, just not in the way Lewis Carroll may have implied. It’s a land powered by imagination, and it’s young Alyss Heart’s for the ruling. Unfortunately, she has a merciless Aunt Redd who won’t stop until Alyss is dead. (Seriously, she’s terrible. She’s like the Voldemort of Wonderland.)
If you love Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, try The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
This one may not have a giant mystery monster Petrifying the Muggleborns all up in Hogwarts, but it does have a murderer stalking the streets of London and re-creating the crimes of Jack the Ripper. Rory Deveaux arrives at her new boarding school just in time for things to go sideways. In fact, the copycat killer is so good he may not be…dare we say it…human. And did I mention that after a near-death experience, Rory can see and hear things nobody else can see and hear, and one of those things is the police’s prime suspect in the killings? Because that’s not a good sign, even in the wizarding world. Or in modern-day London. It’s never good, is what we’re driving at here.
If you love Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, try Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
Let’s focus on what PoA was really about. Werewolves? Time travel? Dementors? No, no. At its most basic, it was about trying to navigate a world where there’s a larger truth in play that everyone except you seems to know about. Son of the Mob details the life of Vince Luca, a high school student whose father is the mob boss of New York City. Vince wants nothing to do with “the Life,” as they call it, but in an ever-tangled web of lies and misinformation, he has to figure out for himself who the bad guys are (which totally sounds like something we might’ve seen in Harry Potter and the Mystery of Which Friend Was ACTUALLY Responsible for My Parents’ Murders.) Plus, Vince at one point tries to tell a date that the guy they find tied up in his trunk is just, um, taking a nap. Come on. That’s a total Harry Potter (“NO I WAS NOT IN HOGSMEADE, IT SOUNDS LIKE MALFOY WAS JUST HALLUCINATING MY HEAD”) move if I ever saw one.
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If you love Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, try A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
In the Potterverse, Goblet of Fire is when things start getting real; we go from reading a fanciful kids’ story to one where innocent Hufflepuffs with good hair die tragically. If you read it and found yourself wishing it was 1) even MORE terrifying, and 2) maybe at an all-girls school, then have we got the gothic Victorian novel for YOU. Gemma Doyle is the newest and wittiest addition to straitlaced Spence Academy…but Spence is hiding more secrets behind its stone pillar gargoyles than it lets on. Now, none of us has ever fought a dragon in a deadly wizards’ tournament (probably). Similarly, none of us has ever discovered we possess magical powers during the course of some rather questionable cavorting after dark with the Mean Girls of Spence Academy (again, probably. I don’t know your life). But A Great and Terrible Beauty, like Goblet of Fire, has a downright chilling knack for bringing you into a world you’d never otherwise occupy.
If you love Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, try The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Frankie Landau-Banks takes a stand against the boys’ club of Alabaster Academy, not unlike Dumbledore’s Army as they fight the good fight against Umbridge’s reign of cardigan-clad terror. Frankie’s weapon of choice, however, isn’t Expelliarmus—it’s meticulously plotted PRANKS and good old-fashioned SUPERIOR INTELLECT. The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds deals in wonky campus mischief and woefully outdated NO GIRLS ALLOWED policies, so Frankie decides to take matters into her own hands. And did we mention Frankie’s hot (but clueless) boyfriend, Matthew, is BFFs with the guy who’s manning the helm of the mischief brigade? It’d be like if Cho Chang had been tight with someone who tattled on everyone to Umbridge. (OH, WAIT.)
If you love Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, try M or F? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts
One of the things that stood out about Half-Blood Prince was that this was the closest we ever got to a Harry Potter rom-com. The love! The heartbreak! The hormones! M or F? is told in alternating POVs by Marcus Beauregard and Frannie Falconer, two best friends in high school who are so in sync they’re basically brain twins. Marcus is determined to get Frannie to go on a date with her latest crush, Jeffrey…even if it means he has to play like Cyrano and chat with him online on her behalf while she stands at his shoulder, wringing her hands. But then Marcus, who’s gay, finds himself inexplicably falling in love with Frannie’s not-yet-boyfriend. And Frannie’s starting to feel like Jeffrey might not be into her. And Jeffrey’s starting to wonder who he’s actually been talking to this whole time. The best part of the story, though, is that it’s not just about love—it’s an honest look at the intersection of romance and friendship.
If you love Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, try The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
You’re probably a fan of heartbreaking tragedy and the irrevocable loss of innocence in times of war. What a monster. In that case, you should go all in for The Book Thief. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany who piques the interest of Death, the book’s tired and woeful narrator. Not only do both books personify Death (in Deathly Hallows, you’ll remember the Master of Death is someone who greets it “as an old friend”), but both focus on human endurance and the courage it takes to keep going after it seems like all is lost. Like Deathly Hallows, The Book Thief will ruin your life in the best possible way, if you’re into that kind of thing, which you obviously are. You’re reading this article, aren’t you?