Lev Grossman’s fantasy book series The Magicians is the story of a group of graduate students—but Quentin Coldwater and his friends aren’t your average 20-somethings muddling their way through higher education. They’re studying at the Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, not to mention trying to ward off the dangerous elements of the magical world that threaten to destroy humanity.
Grossman's series is inspired by and subverts tropes from fantasy classics like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, and is a fantasy fan’s dream. The books were adapted into a Syfy series of the same name, and the fourth season premieres January 23rd, following a shocking finale to season three. You can keep the magic going while you eagerly await the return of Quentin and his friends with these twelve enchanting books like The Magicians.
Brakebills attendees are adults, with accompanying adult vices. Similarly, Jonathan Meriweather, the hero in Alan Dean Foster's eight-book Spellsinger series, is also a young man enjoying the newfound freedom of college and appreciating the draw of girls, pot, and music. When he is suddenly transported to a bizarre magical realm full of talking animals, Jonathan is alarmed to discover that the music he loves may be more powerful than he'd believed back in his dorm room. In this land, Jonathan plays an instrument called the duar, which may hold the key to saving the realm from enroaching evil. The reluctant hero joins forces with a cast of eccentric characters — including a dragon — to save a world he barely understands.
The Witches of London Trilogy
Cousins Emma, Gretchen, and Penelope are bored with the rote rituals of their life in 1814 London. But when a family heirloom shatters and releases a magical secret, the trio get far more than they bargained for. Suddenly gifted with magical powers, they are thrust into a brutal struggle against a coven that dispatches younger witches via beheadings. Stalked by these senior sorceresses, the trio must quickly come to terms with their newfound identities in order to save London...and their own lives.
Fool on the Hill
Stephen Titus George is a bestselling author and the writer-in-residence at an alternate reality version of Cornell University. The idealistic Stephen is torn between two loves: Aurora Borealis Smith and Calliope. But his campus crushes might be squashed by Mr. Sunshine, an enigmatic demi-god at Cornell who sees Stephen as the ultimate hero in a fairy tale of his own writing. Fool on the Hill is a magical, mischievous book that, like The Magicians, plays cleverly with established fantasy tropes to spin a yarn that is compelling in its own right.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
In the early 1800s, two powerful magicians step out of the woodwork. It’s the middle of the Napoleonic Wars, and hopelessness is pervasive. In a world full of death and destruction, it seems that magic is long gone, making the appearance of the two magicians all that more notable. Mr. Norrell is the first to emerge and is an instant sensation. When the young Jonathan Strange comes forth, he captures hearts as well and becomes Mr. Norrell’s protegee.
Norrell and Strange join England’s war effort against France, but when Mr. Norrell begins to explore the darker side of magic, he puts everything in jeopardy. In 2015, The BBC adapted the popular novel into an award-winning miniseries starring Eddie Marsan as Mr. Norell and Bertie Carvel as Jonathan Strange.
Sorcerer to the Crown
Magic is becoming scarce in England. The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers is responsible for maintaining England’s magic, but failing to do so. Desperate for a scapegoat, the public blame Zacharias Wythe, the first African Sorcerer Royal. In this misogynistic society, members find solace in the fact that no matter the dire state in which they find themselves, they have protected their world from women. But what if a woman is the only way to return magic to their land?
In addition to creating an intricate magical world, Sorcerer to the Crown confronts racism and sexism head on, making powerful statements about inclusivity and acceptance. Cho is fearless in her creation of groundbreaking and heroic characters.
The Paper Magician Series
Ceony Twill wants nothing more than to master metal magic, so she’s devastated when she’s assigned to paper magic after graduating with top marks from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined. Once Ceony begins to work with paper, she will be forever bound to this specific kind of magic, meaning she’ll never fulfill her dreams of enchanting metal.
But Ceony is shocked to discover that paper has a lot more magic than she ever imagined. She’s enthralled by the animation of paper creations, the ability to bring stories to life, and her talent for reading fortunes. Ceony’s apprenticeship also exposes her to the darker side of magic and tempts her with its forbidden potential.
The Neverending Story
The basis for the epic film of the same name, The Neverending Story is the tale of Bastian Bux, a young boy whose mother recently passed away and whose father ignores him. In a used bookstore, Bastian finds a book entitled The Neverending Story. He’s captivated and steals the book. The book is set in Fantastica, a magical kingdom ruled by a mysterious empress.
Bastian is so immersed in the story that he doesn’t register that he has become a character in Fantastica. He goes on splendid adventures and finds that all of his wishes are coming true. What Bastian doesn’t realize is that with each wish, he slips farther away from his life and the real world. Fans of the world of Fillory with be thrilled with the magical world of Fantastica and Bastian’s dangerous adventures there.
Magical Mayhem Series
Just like Quentin Coldwater, Penny Bristol has always felt like there was something missing in her life, and like she never quite belonged. She does and says things that “normal” people don’t do. She even feels things in the world around her. Definitely unusual. But when she found magic, suddenly everything made sense.
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However, Penny's transition into the magical world isn’t smooth. She possesses a great deal of powerful magic, but has no idea how to control it. Penny is confronted by the Mages’ Guild–an ancient and very corrupt magical organization. They don’t have her best interests in mind, but she doesn’t know how to protect herself. Enter the Rogue Natural: He’s the most feared mage in the world, but he just might be the only thing standing between Penny and magical enslavement.
Long ago, architect John Drinkwater discovered that the world is actually one in a series of overlapping realms. He built his family home, Edgewood, as a door through which the realm of Faerie can be accessed. Generations later, his family still lives in the mysterious house.
Daily, one of Drinkwater’s descendents currently living in Edgewood, is set to marry Smoky Barnable, who travels to Edgewood from the City. The family, the young couple, and the soon-to-come next generation is greatly impacted by the magical realm that lurks within their home, consumed with the stories of faeries and magical abilities that have been passed down since the days of John Drinkwater.
So You Want to Be a Wizard
Unlike The Magicians, So You Want to be a Wizard was written for teens and young adults, but that doesn’t make it any less enchanting. The first novel in the Young Wizards series, So You Want to be a Wizard is Nita’s story. Nita is a lonely 13-year-old who hides in the library to get away from bullies.
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One fated day, Nita comes across a book entitled So You Want To Be a Wizard. Taken with the title, she immediately checks it out. That night, she takes the Wizard’s Oath she found in the book. Nita only took the oath for fun, but she soon discovers that it’s no joke—Nita has actually become a wizard.
In a multiverse split between good magic and dark magic, the Magids are responsible for protecting the good. Magids are powerful magicians, each assigned to protect a specific world. Rupert Venables is the junior Magid responsible for Earth and the planets of the Koyrfonic Empire.
When the Emperor of the Koyrfonic Empire dies suddenly without an heir in place, Rupert must do his best to keep order. Soon after, the senior Magid for Earth dies, making Rupert his successor. With his hands full, Rupert is in desperate need of a junior Magid. He is thrilled when he realizes that he can meet the five candidates at a conference in England, but there are dark forces to be confronted there.
Rosemary and Rue
Toby Day is a changeling–half human and half fae. Faerie, the home of faes, is a well-kept secret threatened by the existence of changelings like Toby. An outsider in Faerie, Toby has retreated to the human world where she has her own business as a private investigator.
But Toby doesn’t just investigate normal cases: She often works a fae duke, pursuing cases that require her to use what little magic powers she has as a half-fae. When tragedy strikes Faerie, Toby must return to her old post as a knight. Much like Quentin, Toby’s powers will be tested as she confront powerful forces attempting to destroy her world. Does she still have what it takes to protect the magical realm?
Featured still from 'The Magicians' via Syfy