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20 Spellbinding Books Like Harry Potter for Adults

Uncover Magic Beyond Hogwarts With These Enchanting Adult Reads
by The Blinkist Team | Apr 23 2024
Discover 20 Enchanting Books Like Harry Potter for Adults

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has bewitched readers of all ages with its enchanting world of witchcraft and wizardry. For many, the journey through the corridors of Hogwarts, alongside Harry, Hermione, and Ron, was a defining part of their childhood.

But as we grow, our reading tastes mature, making us yearn for books with similar magical elements tailored for an adult audience. If you’re seeking that blend of fantasy, adventure, and the complex fight between good and evil, then you’re in for a treat with these 20 captivating books like Harry Potter for adults.

The Best 20 Books Like “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling for Adults


1. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.

This novel weaves a mesmerizing story of a magical competition between two young illusionists, set in a mysterious traveling circus that only appears at night.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A magical competition at its core.
  • A richly imagined magical world.
  • Themes of love intertwined with destiny.


2. “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman.

Often described as “Harry Potter for adults,” this series follows Quentin Coldwater to Brakebills Academy for Magical Pedagogy, diving into deeper, darker magical realms.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A magical school setting.
  • The complexity of growing up with magic.
  • Darker, more adult themes.


3. “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness.

Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, dive into a world of magic, alchemy, and time travel, uncovering deep family secrets.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • The intersection of various magical beings.
  • A rich background in lore and history.
  • A deep-seated battle between good and evil.


4. “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman.

Richard Mayhew’s mundane life is turned upside down when he discovers London Below, a magical realm existing beneath the city, filled with fantastical creatures and dangers.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A hidden magical world.
  • A journey of self-discovery and courage.
  • An ensemble of unique and mystical characters.


5. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss.

Kvothe’s epic journey from a precocious young boy to a notorious wizard unravels in this beautifully written saga, full of magic, music, and mystery.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A detailed magical education.
  • A protagonist with a mysterious past.
  • A compelling blend of folklore and fantasy.


6. “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke.

In an alternate historical England where magic once existed, two magicians emerge to change history. This book blends intricate fantasy with a rich historical backdrop.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • British magical society.
  • Dark magic and its consequences.
  • The revival of magic in a skeptical world.


7. “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden.

Set in medieval Russia, this story of Vasilisa, who is gifted with magical abilities and must confront both mortal and supernatural enemies, drips with fairy-tale allure.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • The struggle between old beliefs and new religion.
  • The presence of dark, supernatural forces.
  • A strong, magically gifted protagonist.


8. “Circe” by Madeline Miller.

This novel reimagines the life of Circe, a powerful witch from the Odyssey, blending elements of magic, gods, and mythology with deep character exploration.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • Magical abilities as both a gift and curse.
  • Exploration of mythical creatures.
  • Themes of exile and finding one’s true power.


9. “The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon.

A world divided and a looming dark force make up the backdrop for this epic fantasy, where dragons roam and forbidden magic bubbles beneath the surface.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • Dragons and other magical creatures.
  • A hidden magical society.
  • A looming dark force threatening the world.


10. “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

In post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona, a young man uncovers a book that leads him into a labyrinth of secrets and a clash against a dark figure who aims to destroy it.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • The allure and power of books.
  • Dark atmospheric tones mixed with magical elements.
  • A young protagonist’s journey into danger.


11. “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker.

In this novel, a magical being of Jewish folklore and a jinni from Arabian mythology navigate life in New York City, exploring themes of identity and the supernatural.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • Mythical beings concealed within human society.
  • Themes of friendship and belonging.
  • The exploration of magical folklore in a real-world setting.


12. “Rivers of London” by Ben Aaronovitch.

Peter Grant, a London police constable, finds himself apprenticed to the last wizard in England, merging a police procedural with magical mayhem.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • Modern urban magic.
  • A blend of mystery and fantasy.
  • The mentorship of a young wizard.


13. “The Fionavar Tapestry” by Guy Gavriel Kay.

This high fantasy series begins with five college students being transported to a magical world, where they become embroiled in epic struggles.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A group of young people thrust into a magical war.
  • Themes of sacrifice and heroism.
  • Richly developed alternate world filled with magic.


14. “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir.

Set in a brutal, ancient-like world, this story focuses on a slave fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom, uncovering magic and destiny.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • An oppressive regime with a magical elite.
  • Characters struggling to control their magical abilities.
  • A blend of myth, magic, and martial prowess.


15. “The Paper Magician” by Charlie N. Holmberg.

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane to learn paper magic and discovers a world far beyond her imagination, including the dark arts.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • The mastery of a specific branch of magic.
  • A heartwarming mentor-student relationship.
  • The presence of dark magic as a tangible threat.


16. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs.

After a family tragedy, Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, uncovering a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A hidden sanctuary for the magically endowed.
  • Time travel and magical lore.
  • A young protagonist uncovering family secrets.


17. “Labyrinth” by Kate Mosse.

Two timelines intertwine in this historical and archaeological adventure, as both heroines uncover the truth about the Holy Grail and their own connections to it.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • Archaeological discoveries leading to magical revelations.
  • Historical and magical mysteries.
  • A dual timeline that explores the legacy of magic through ages.


18. “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) Wizard P.I., solves magical crimes in this noir-fantasy series, blending hard-boiled detective fiction with wizardry.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A modern-day wizard in a non-magical society.
  • Magically induced crimes and mysteries.
  • A complex magical society hidden from the common eye.


19. “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N.K. Jemisin.

Yeine, an outcast from the barbarian north, is thrust into the vicious power games of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, where gods are enslaved, and magic is a deadly political tool.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • High-stakes political intrigue intertwined with magic.
  • Gods and mortals in a complex, intertwined relationship.
  • A strong, resourceful protagonist navigating a deadly world.


20. “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik.

Agnieszka loves her village, set in a peaceful valley, but the corrupt Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow looms over her life.

Elements in common with Harry Potter:

  • A deep connection between magic and nature.
  • A seemingly ordinary protagonist with extraordinary abilities.
  • The battle against an encroaching dark force.

In conclusion, as our taste in literature evolves, finding books like Harry Potter but for adults can provide that nostalgic connection to our childhood while satisfying our grown-up fascination with the magical and the mystical. Each book on this list offers a unique journey into sprawling, fantastical worlds, complex character dynamics, and the eternal battle between light and dark.

So, whether you’re longing to return to a school of magic, explore ancient lands swathed in legend, or simply escape into a story where the impossible becomes possible, these novels promise to captivate and enchant. Happy reading!


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