“Top Ten Tuesday:” Five series of books for readers who like Harry Potter

March 10: Five Series For Readers Who Like Harry Potter

Here we are with top ten Tuesday again! This week, the theme is “Books to read if you liked (blank)." (Yeah I'm doing five this week. Whatever!)

It's no secret (or maybe it is?) . . . I think Harry Potter is a bit over-rated.

I liked it OK. I enjoyed it. It was fun. I was of the generation that bought each book as it came out, and “grew up" with the characters.

But it was far from my favorite childhood fantasy novel series. FAR FROM. Here are five apparently and tragically overlooked fantasy novel series that I loved when younger. All of them blow Harry Potter out of the water. All of these are on my shelves to this day. I let go of all my Harry Potter books years ago — I just didn't care any more. THESE were the books I loved and wore to pieces growing up and could never let go of.

I am so sad I don't see more love for these books around the bookiverse. I give them ALL MY LOVE to make up for their cruel neglect. Dear books, I will never abandon you!

Lloyd Alexander, The Prydain Chronicles. Like Harry Potter, the characters start young and grow through the course of the books; there is a group of loyal friends; they must battle an ancient and overpowering evil. Set in an ancient and mysterious land something like ancient Wales. These are probably more middle grade but I re-read them occasionally to this day.

Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising series Oh my goodness.  Like Harry Potter, they are contemporary and British and Magic is real but secret. But this magic is...oooohhhhhh. This magic. Never a plaything; always just on the edge of uncontrolled. Start with Over Sea, Under Stone, but know that my unrivaled favorite is The Dark Is Rising, which comes second in the sequence, so don't stop with the first one! These also follow children who mature over the course of the novels battling an ancient malevolent force.

Ursula LeGuin, The Earthsea Cycle. Best world building I have ever read (possibly rivaled only by Frank Herbert in Dune and, of course, Tolkien). Perfect prose. Even Harold Bloom admires LeGuin's prose. Compelling characters. The first book is a school story, though not the rest. And again, the magic? Incomparable. Beautiful. Frightening. Again with the Battle Against Evil, though LeGuin has a much subtler conception of evil than any of these others. LeGuin is one of my all-time favorite authors though (definitely in the top ten), so I can't say enough good things about these books.

Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast. (I haven't read the whole trilogy but what I have read was fantastic). Steerpike would obviously have been a Slytherin. Rare to find such a frank anti-hero in this genre. These are by far the densest books among my recommendations here as the prose is delightfully flowery, so if you prefer a lighter easier read: not these.

Garth Nix, the Abhorsen series. Sabriel, the first book in the series, is just SO good (I like the others too though not as much). A young woman leaves school to rescue her father, the Abhorsen, who lays the dead to rest but has himself been trapped in death...and that's just the first book. Of all my recs here, these read closest to Harry Potter, both in prose style and in atmosphere.

Please comment and let me know if you love any of these as much as I do, or if you are planning on picking them up!

Happy reading!