While they may not precisely replicate the charm of Hogwarts, they delve into fantastical worlds, intricate magic systems, and compelling adventures suitable for older audiences.
Whether you’re drawn to epic quests, intricate magic systems, or richly developed characters, these recommendations promise to ignite your imagination and provide a sense of wonder akin to the magic of Harry Potter.
Let’s explore them one at a time.
Books like Harry Potter For Adults
“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
“The Night Circus” is an enchanting novel that revolves around a magical competition between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.
Unknown to them, this contest is a duel in which only one can be left standing. The circus becomes the stage for their magical feats, unfolding in a series of dreamlike and cinematic scenes that captivate the audience. But as they fall deeply in love with each other, they find the game must end, with unforeseeable consequences for all involved.
Morgenstern’s storytelling weaves a spellbinding tale of fantasy, romance, and the power of imagination.
“The Magicians” by Lev Grossman
Often hailed as “Harry Potter for adults,” “The Magicians” introduces readers to Quentin Coldwater, a high school senior who is unexpectedly admitted to Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy.
As Quentin navigates the rigors of a very real and surprisingly dangerous magical education, he and his friends stumble upon a magical land that they thought existed only in a children’s book.
The series explores themes of disillusionment, the search for meaning, and the cost of living in a world where magic exists but does not offer easy answers to life’s questions.
“A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness
In “A Discovery of Witches,” historian and reluctant witch Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library that thrusts her into the heart of a dangerous mystery—and into the path of the enigmatic vampire Matthew Clairmont.
As Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets, they are forced to confront their own pasts and the forbidden love that threatens to upend the fragile peace between creatures and humans.
Harkness blends history, science, and magic into a spellbinding tale of romance, adventure, and the battle against ancient prejudices.
“Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman
“Neverwhere” follows the life of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman who discovers an alternate city beneath the streets of London.
After helping a wounded girl named Door, Richard’s ordinary life is turned upside down, and he finds himself trapped in “London Below,” a dark and fantastical underworld populated by angels, monsters, assassins, and saints.
As Richard seeks a way back to his normal life, he embarks on a thrilling adventure that challenges his understanding of reality and identity.
Gaiman crafts a dark, imaginative tale that explores themes of heroism, belonging, and the nature of reality itself.
“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke
Set in an alternate 19th-century England where magic once flourished but has long faded into myth, “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” chronicles the relationship between two men at the forefront of its revival: the reclusive Mr. Norrell and his daring, adventurous pupil, Jonathan Strange.
As they join forces to aid the British in the Napoleonic Wars through magical means, their partnership is tested by their differing views on magic’s place in England.
Clarke’s novel is an intricate blend of historical fiction and fantasy, exploring the limits of human ambition, the cost of obsession, and the clash between reason and imagination.
“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
“The Name of the Wind” is the first book in Patrick Rothfuss’s epic fantasy series, chronicling the life of Kvothe, a gifted young man who grows up to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, Kvothe’s story is about love, loss, survival, and the search for knowledge.
Rothfuss weaves a compelling narrative that combines a coming-of-age story with elements of magic, mystery, and a deep, immersive world-building.
“Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson
“Mistborn: The Final Empire” introduces readers to a dark, dystopian world ruled by the immortal Lord Ruler.
The story centers on Vin, a street urchin who discovers she has the rare power of Allomancy—the ability to ingest and burn metals to grant her supernatural abilities.
Recruited by a crew of rebels led by the charismatic Kelsier, Vin participates in a heist to overthrow the corrupt empire.
Sanderson’s novel is renowned for its unique magic system, complex characters, and a plot that blends political intrigue with thrilling action, exploring themes of power, identity, and revolution.
“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
In post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona, young Daniel Sempere discovers a book titled “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julián Carax in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
As Daniel seeks out other works by Carax, he finds himself drawn into a labyrinth of mysteries and secrets surrounding the author’s life and death. Zafón’s novel is a love letter to literature, weaving a complex narrative that combines elements of mystery, historical fiction, and romance.
It explores the power of books to change lives, the dangers of obsession, and the enduring impact of the past on the present.
“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik
“Uprooted” is a captivating tale of Agnieszka, a girl from a quiet village that lies in the shadow of an evil, corrupted forest. Every ten years, the Dragon—a powerful wizard—takes a girl from the village as payment for protecting them from the forest’s malevolence.
When Agnieszka is chosen, she discovers a natural talent for magic and becomes entangled in a battle against the dark forces of the forest.
Novik’s novel is a modern fairy tale that blends magic, friendship, and love with themes of home, identity, and the fight against corruption.
“The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden
Set in the wilderness of medieval Russia, “The Bear and the Nightingale” follows Vasilisa, a young girl with special gifts, who is torn between her family’s expectations and her desire to protect her village from dark forces.
As her world begins to change with the arrival of a new priest and the threat of familial and societal expectations, Vasilisa must embrace her gift to commune with spirits to save her family and village from the ancient evil that seeks to destroy them.
Arden weaves a rich tapestry of folklore and history, creating a spellbinding story of bravery, tradition, and the power of storytelling.
“The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker
In “The Golem and the Jinni,” Wecker combines Jewish and Arab mythologies to tell the story of two supernatural beings in turn-of-the-century New York.
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City.
Though they are from disparate worlds, Chava and Ahmad form an unlikely friendship as they navigate the human world. Wecker’s novel explores themes of identity, belonging, and the immigrant experience, set against a backdrop of historical New York.
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a surreal and haunting novel that blends fantasy, horror, and mythology to explore the fragility of childhood memories.
The story is told from the perspective of an unnamed protagonist who returns to his childhood home and recalls the events that occurred when he was seven years old. He befriends a remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and discovers a world filled with dark and magical forces.
Gaiman’s tale is a meditation on memory, reality, and survival, revealing how our past shapes us and the protective power of storytelling.
“Leviathan” by Scott Westerfeld
“Leviathan” is a steampunk adventure set in an alternate World War I era, where the world is divided between the Clankers, who rely on technology and machines, and the Darwinists, who use genetically engineered creatures for battle.
The story follows Aleksandar, the prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the run, and Deryn, a girl disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service. As their paths cross, they must navigate a world at war, filled with fantastical machines, living airships, and political intrigue.
Westerfeld’s novel is a thrilling blend of history, science fiction, and adventure, exploring themes of identity, loyalty, and innovation.
“The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon
“The Priory of the Orange Tree” is an epic fantasy tale of a world divided and threatened by the return of the draconic legend, The Nameless One.
The story unfolds through multiple perspectives, including Ead, a lady-in-waiting with a secret, and Tané, a dragon rider on the cusp of a life-changing decision.
As the forces of chaos begin to rise, these characters and others must navigate complex political landscapes, forbidden magic, and dragons to prevent a war that could destroy their world.
Shannon’s novel is celebrated for its rich world-building, complex female characters, and themes of faith, courage, and unity.
“The City of Brass” by S.A. Chakraborty
Set in 18th century Cairo, “The City of Brass” follows Nahri, a young con artist with a mysterious heritage, who accidentally summons a powerful djinn warrior during one of her schemes.
Together, they journey to Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, filled with magical beings and long-buried secrets. Chakraborty’s novel weaves a rich tapestry of Middle Eastern history and mythology, exploring themes of power, identity, and sectarian conflict within a breathtakingly imaginative fantasy world.
“Circe” by Madeline Miller
In “Circe,” Madeline Miller reimagines the life of one of the most infamous characters from the Odyssey: Circe, the witch who transforms Odysseus’s men into swine.
The novel follows Circe’s evolution from an obscure nymph to a powerful witch, exploring her encounters with gods and mortals, and her quest to protect what she loves.
Miller’s lyrical prose and deep character exploration turn a classical villain into a complex and relatable heroine, offering a feminist reinterpretation of ancient myths and the story of a woman’s struggle to find her place in a world where she belongs to neither gods nor mortals.
“The Invisible Library” by Genevieve Cogman
“The Invisible Library” introduces readers to Irene, a professional spy for the Library, a mysterious organization that exists between dimensions and collects important works of fiction from different realities.
Assigned to retrieve a dangerous book from an alternate London infested with chaos, Irene and her enigmatic assistant Kai find themselves entangled in a web of magic, murder, and secret societies.
Cogman’s series is a delightful mix of fantasy, adventure, and mystery, celebrating the love of books and the thrilling escapades of librarians who go to extraordinary lengths to preserve unique texts.
“The Night Watch” by Sergei Lukyanenko
Set in contemporary Moscow, “The Night Watch” is the first novel in a series that explores a world where supernatural beings known as Others live among humans.
The Others are divided into the Light and the Dark, who have fought a long-standing truce. The story follows Anton, a Light Mage working for the Night Watch, tasked with monitoring the Dark Others. When a series of events threatens the delicate balance between light and darkness, Anton finds himself at the center of a conflict that could lead to war.
Lukyanenko’s novel is a captivating urban fantasy that delves into the gray areas of morality, the complexities of power, and the cost of duty.
“The Ten Thousand Doors of January” by Alix E. Harrow
In “The Ten Thousand Doors of January,” a young woman named January Scaller discovers a strange book that opens doors to other worlds, revealing a vast multiverse and a story that intertwines with her own past.
As January delves deeper into the book, she uncovers secrets about her family, her heritage, and the power of words and stories to open new pathways.
Harrow’s novel is a lyrical and imaginative tale of adventure, love, and the unbreakable bonds that connect us across different worlds.
“Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor
“Strange the Dreamer” is the story of Lazlo Strange, an orphan and librarian obsessed with the lost city of Weep, which vanished from all maps and memories.
When a chance arrives for Lazlo to join a delegation to the fabled city, he embarks on a journey that exceeds his wildest dreams.
In Weep, he encounters mysteries and wonders, including a blue-skinned goddess who may hold the key to the city’s tragic past. Taylor’s novel is a beautifully written fantasy that explores themes of identity, destiny, and the power of dreams.
“The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen
“The Queen of the Tearling” follows Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, who has been raised in hiding until her nineteenth birthday, when she must reclaim her deceased mother’s throne and rule the Tearling.
Facing enemies on all sides, Kelsea must rely on her wits and the loyalty of her guards to survive and begin her reign.
Johansen’s novel is a gripping blend of fantasy and dystopian fiction, offering a strong, intelligent heroine and a story filled with political intrigue, magic, and the promise of transformation.
“Sabriel” by Garth Nix
“Sabriel” introduces readers to a world where the living reside south of the Wall and the dead, along with darker, more sinister forces, inhabit the Old Kingdom to the north.
Sabriel, the daughter of the Abhorsen, who keeps the dead from rising again, must cross into the Old Kingdom to find her missing father. Armed with her father’s tools and powerful magic, Sabriel embarks on a journey that will test her courage and her abilities as a necromancer.
Nix blends fantasy, horror, and adventure to create a richly imagined world where the line between life and death is all too easily crossed.
“The Witch’s Daughter” by Paula Brackston
“The Witch’s Daughter” is a tale of immortality, time travel, and the enduring struggle between good and evil.
The story follows Elizabeth Hawksmith, a witch who has survived the witch hunts of the early 17th century to live in the modern world. As she faces a new threat from a figure from her past, Elizabeth recounts her history—from her training as a witch, to the battlefields of World War I, to the blitz of World War II—revealing the lengths she has gone to survive.
Brackston’s novel is a captivating blend of historical fiction and fantasy, exploring themes of resilience, redemption, and the power of love across time.
“The Discovery of Dragons” by Graeme Base
“The Discovery of Dragons” is an illustrated novel that presents a whimsical and imaginative take on dragon mythology.
Through the eyes of three fictional explorers from different historical periods, readers are introduced to a variety of dragons from around the world, each with its own unique characteristics, habits, and stories.
Graeme Base combines humor, fantasy, and exquisite artwork to create a delightful and engaging exploration of these mythical creatures, appealing to both children and adults with its creativity and detailed illustrations.
“Alif the Unseen” by G. Willow Wilson
“Alif the Unseen” is a groundbreaking novel that blends elements of cyberpunk and urban fantasy in a Middle Eastern setting.
The story follows Alif, a young hacker who finds himself on the run from the state’s security forces after a jilted lover, who happens to be a royal, turns against him.
With the help of a book of ancient jinn magic, Alif must navigate the unseen world of the supernatural to save himself and his friends.
Wilson’s novel is a thrilling adventure that explores themes of faith, freedom, and the power of the unseen in the modern world.
“The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley
“The Rook” combines elements of spy thriller and fantasy in a story about Myfanwy Thomas, a woman who wakes up in London with no memory of who she is, surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves.
Discovering she is a high-ranking official in a secret organization protecting Britain from supernatural threats, Myfanwy must navigate her new life with the help of letters left by her former self.
O’Malley’s novel is a witty and engaging blend of mystery, suspense, and supernatural, exploring identity, personal strength, and the intricate workings of a hidden world within our own.