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Life After Hogwarts (A Harry Potter Reading List)

May 21, 2008


Life after Hogwarts
Some selections to further your studies in magical worlds

By ELIZABETH WILLSE
FOR THE STAR-LEDGER

Some selections to further your studies in magical worlds

This is it. You have turned the last page of the last adventure of The Boy Who Lived, and his battle against You-Know- Who. From now on, there will be no more waiting in long, cheerful lines or pouncing on your mail carrier to get the next volume in Harry’s adventures.

You can, and probably will, read past editions over and over. But what do you do to get that thrill of turning the page for the first time, the fizzy rush of the unknown?

All is not lost. There is still magic, alive and well in bookstores and libraries. And, for all the many reasons you love Harry Potter, there is something on a bookshelf, waiting for you to read it the first time.

Here is a sampling of alternatives, recom¬mended mostly for younger readers.

If you love Harry Potter for the delicious dark and spooky chill whenever You-Know-Who comes on the scene, you will like:

The Dark Is Rising series, by Susan Cooper. All but the very youngest Harry fans will want to stay up late reading “Over Sea, Under Stone” (Aladdin, 2000), and the rest of the four-volume series set in Cornwall.

The adventures of the three Drew children, led by their uncle Gumerry (who resembles Dumbledore, if you squint) touch on Arthurian legend, art theft and ancient magic. Good for reading under the covers with a flashlight.

If you love Harry Potter for the sweet whimsy of chocolate frogs, pumpkin juice and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, you will like:

“Boy,” Roald Dahl’s memoirs (Puffin, 2001). Younger readers might find his early family his¬tory intense, but Muggles 11 years and older will be fascinated, especially by the sweet shop filled with gobstoppers, humbugs, licorice boot laces, and lemon sherbet fizzes.

With your literary sweet tooth, and fondness for things British, you have probably already read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (Puffin, 1998).

If you love Harry Potter for:

The scene where Hagrid yells at the Dursleys and gives Dudley a pigtail, or for Harry’s meeting with his godfather, Sirius Black, you will like:

“Coraline,” by Neil Gaiman (Harper Perennial 2006). Bored, Coraline discovers a secret passage that leads to a very familiar- looking house. It’s the house of her other mother, and other father, with big, creepy black buttons for eyes. A satisfying, creepy tale that makes you appreciate home and family, no matter how boring they might be.

If you love Harry Potter, but want to bring your magic a little closer to home, you will like:

The Young Wizards’ Series, by Diane Duane. “So You Want To Be A Wizard,” (Magic Carpet Books, 2003) introduces Kit and Nita, two kids from Long Island who discover a book called “So You Want To Be A Wizard.” Taking the Wizard’s Oath to use magic “In Life’s Name and For Life’s Sake” sends them on a battle against the Lone Power, in a menacing alternate version of New York City. Kit and Nita’s adventures continue across eight more books, taking them all over the East Coast, to Ireland, and even to outer space.

If you love Harry Potter for kids saving the world, with or without magic, you will like:

“Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card (ATOM New Edition). Ender and his friends at the Battle School are training to save the world from aliens known only as “Buggers.” To practice military strategy, they simulate battles in zero-gravity. Until they find out their mock battles are more real than they suspected.

If you love Harry Potter for Dobby, Firenze, (and maybe want a few magical creatures of your own) you will like:

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, beginning with “The Golden Compass” (Yearling, 2001). A deliciously spooky atmosphere permeates the adventures of Lyra, offset by the whimsy of the talking daemons (animal familiars) each wizard at Jordan College possesses.

If you love Harry Potter for:

Reading aloud, or curling up cozily with, you will like:

“In The Wizard’s Hall,” by Jane Yolen (Magic Carpet Books 1999). A sweet story of a young wizard named Thornmallow, who enters the Wizards Hall without much aptitude for magic. But he tries, and ultimately, that perseverance, more than any magical talent, wins the day.

And for adult fans

  • “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,” Susanna Clarke (Tor Books). Too slow by far, but works as both a novel of manners and a novel of magic. Pretends to be a history of British magic in the 19th century, with footnotes referencing imaginary scholarly works of magical study. It is rewarding to the patient reader.
  • “Deep Secret,” Diana Wynne Jones (Starscape). Rupert Venable is the Junior Magid on Earth, charged with maintaining the balance of magic in the world. When the Senior Magid dies, Rupert is charged with finding a new Junior Magid.
  • “Wyrd Sisters,” Terry Pratchett (HarperTorch). Friends of Harry can use this as a first stop into Pratchett’s Discworld series, complete with three witches: snide Granny Weatherwax, raucous Nanny Ogg and ditzy Magrat Garlick. Tangled Shakespearean plots of meddling, romance and mistaken identity, and sometimes raunchy humor.
  • “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch,” Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (HarperTorch). How’s this for a plot: The Antichrist is delivered to the wrong family by a batty Satanist nun. Not to worry. Aziraphale the angel and Crowley the demon join forces to prevent the Antichrist from launching the battle that will end the world.
  • “The Crystal Cave,” Mary Stewart (Eos). Merlin’s boyhood, infused with ancient British history and Druidic lore. Later books in the series are too violent and sexy for younger readers. “The Science of Harry Potter,” Roger Highfield (Headline Book Publishing). Examines the physics, biology and history that might explain the Potter magic, and traces the history of people’s beliefs in magic. Worth browsing.
  • “Storm Front,” Jim Butcher, (Roc). Introduces Harry Dresden, private investigator and practicing wizard, awash in missing persons and drug wars in Chicago. Satisfying blend of supernatural elements and the grouchy private eye.
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