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Kids at Home? Here's What to Read After Harry Potter

By now you’ve probably seen hundreds of lists like this one—books to read after you or your kids finish the Harry Potter series. These lists are all pretty similar, I think, and they mostly focus on stories that feature other magical kids having magical adventures. And I’ll be honest, I think most of those lists are thrown together by people who haven’t even read half the books they’re recommending. 

You won’t have that problem here. For one thing, I’ve actually read the books I’m about to recommend. (Full disclosure: I even wrote one of them.) And here’s the other big difference: Most lists like this don’t seem to acknowledge that we all probably like slightly different things about Harry Potter. Maybe for you it’s the magic spells and fantastic beasts. Or maybe you’re really a fan of the British boarding school setting. Maybe it’s the core friendships, the slow-burn mysteries, or the inspiring fierceness of Hermione Granger. 

So, this isn’t a list of Harry Potter clones. You won’t find books that try to directly copy Harry Potter here. Instead, it’s a set of recommendations around what to read after Harry Potter based on the elements of the story that may have resonated most with you or your kids. 

If you like ghosts and haunted places in Europe…

I love Nearly Headless Nick, The Bloody Baron, Peeves, and (especially) Moaning Myrtle. The ghosts of Harry Potter are charming and funny and only occasionally spooky, but they all have a story to tell. I recommend City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab if you enjoyed hanging out with the ghosts at Hogwarts. It stars a gutsy heroine named Cassidy Blake and her best friend, Jacob, who happens to be a ghost no one else can see. The book is also loaded with Harry Potter references (Cassidy is a proud Gryffindor) and a spooky Scottish setting that evokes a little of that Hogwarts feeling. A second book in the series was released earlier this year and a third is on the way.

From the Publisher: “Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead … and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. 

So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger. When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.”

What People Are Saying: “Spine tingling and page-turning, perfectly blending humor, heart, and adventure… I loved it!” –Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince

Available at Amazon: Hardcover, paperback, or Kindle

If you like teenage witches and wizards, contemporary fantasy, and feisty girls who stick up for themselves…

I wrote this book! It’s called The Witches of Willow Cove and it comes out May 26. I was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s magical series, particularly the third and fourth books where the kids are in their early teens. The elements that most interested me in Harry Potter were the magic, friendships, slowly unfolding mysteries, the occasional darkness, and the clever way all the twists and turns come together at the end of each book—especially in book three. So if Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of your favorites in the series, I hope you’ll give The Witches of Willow Cove a try. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite local bookstore. I’m working on the sequel right now. 

From the Publisher: “It’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Green slime bubbling to life in science class. Giant snakes slithering around the middle school gym. Her best friend suddenly keeping secrets and telling lies.

Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town—and that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all. Miss Winters, herself a witch, even offers to teach Abby and the others everything she knows about witchcraft.

But as Abby learns more about Miss Winters’ past, she begins to suspect her new mentor is keeping secrets of her own. Can Abby trust her, or does Miss Winters have something wicked planned for the young witches of Willow Cove?”

What People Are Saying: “This atmospheric debut is a nail-biting story of local history, sinister magic, and what it means to be a true friend. With narrow escapes, rising tension, and secrets aplenty, good luck trying to put this one down!” –Diane Magras, Author of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter (Junior Library Guild Spring 2018 Selection, The New York Times Editors’ Choice, ALSC Notable Children’s Book)

Available at Amazon: Paperback or Kindle

If you like British boarding schools and tight-knit friends…

My first reaction upon reading The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane was that it’s just like Harry Potter without the magic spells. I mean that in a good way. British boarding school? Check. Three friends investigating a mystery? Check. Suspicious teachers and lots of twists and turns? Check and check. This is a great story that evokes the cozy feelings of the early books in the Harry Potter series. A sequel has just been released and I hope there’s even more to come. 

From the Publisher: “With a dad who disappeared years ago and a mother who’s a bit too busy to parent, Emmy is shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, where she’s sure she won’t fit in. 

But then she finds a box of mysterious medallions in the attic of her home – medallions that belonged to her father…who may have gone to Wellsworth. 

When she arrives at school, she finds the strange symbols from the medallions etched into walls and books, which leads her and her new friends, Jack and Lola, to Wellsworth’s secret society: The Order of Black Hollow Lane. Emmy can’t help but think that the society had something to do with her dad’s disappearance and that there may be more than just dark secrets in the halls of Wellsworth.”

What People Are Saying: “A page-turning mystery ripe with plot twists, crackling humor, and a plucky heroine. Kids will love Emmy and beg for more.” —Michael Buckley, New York Times bestselling author of The Sisters Grim and NERDS

Available at Amazon: Hardcover, paperback, or Kindle

If you like Hagrid and his Monster Book of Monsters…

Is it magical creatures you’re looking for? Let me introduce you to Fablehaven, a favorite literary destination for fans of mythic monsters like trolls, imps, satyrs, and fairies. With relatable sibling leads, a fantastic setting, and a mystery to solve, there’s a lot to love in this long-running fantasy series by Brandon Mull. The first series consists of five novels; a subsequent set of books continues the story after that.

From the publisher: “For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite… 

Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.”

Available at Amazon: Hardcover, paperback, or Kindle

If you like adventurous boys, magical battles, and epic mythology…

Percy Jackson and the Olympians may seem like an obvious pick—in my unscientific survey of lists suggesting what to read after Harry Potter, it’s the most frequently recommended series—but just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The Lightning Thief is the book that launched Rick Riordan to literary superstardom, and with good reason. It’s a fun, funny, adventurous romp that really hits the post-Potter sweet spot. If you’ve only seen the movies, you’re missing out. Not only are they not as good as the books, they’re really not even that similar. Skip the films and head straight to the novels. My son, who doesn’t typically read fantasy, loves these books.  

From the Publisher: “Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. 

When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. 

Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.”

What People Are Saying: “Packed with humorous allusions to Greek mythology… along with rip-snorting action sequences, this book really shines.” —Horn Book Magazine

Available at Amazon: Hardcover, paperback, or Kindle

If you just can’t get enough of Harry Potter…

I resisted picking up a copy of the eighth Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, because I’d heard mixed reviews of the story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. It’s a play script rather than a novel, and it focuses on the next generation of kids at Hogwarts, though Harry, Ron, and Hermione do play major roles. 

Then my daughter talked me into buying tickets for the Broadway production. And I have to say, maybe a bit grudgingly, it’s a reasonably good continuation of the series. Not perfect, not necessarily the direction I would have gone, but still—a worthy successor. See the full production if you can (the stage effects are spectacular) or read the script if a live performance isn’t in the cards. Either way, it’s a nice way to say goodbye—again—to the wizarding world. And you can always pretend it’s fan fiction if the story’s particular twists and turns aren’t to your liking.

From the Publisher: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.” 

What People Are Saying: “A well-crafted and enjoyable read.” —Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal

Available at Amazon: Hardcover, paperback, or Kindle

Josh Roberts is the former Senior Executive Editor of SmarterTravel. The Witches of Willow Cove is his first novel, and you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore.

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