I recently asked why are witches so compelling, and there’s one big reason I forgot to include: MAGIC. Doh! That one’s kind of a biggie, considering that, unlike elves or dragons or dwarves, a magician is something one can actually strive to be IRL – and people have been doing just that for millenia. Even Isaac Newton studied the occult!
But it’s not just a proximity to the real world that makes magic so beguiling – there are scores of people who don’t believe that chanting and incense and the right colored candle can alter their reality. But, put Harry Potter in their hands and watch how those same people become thoroughly enchanted by J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Because, magic (among other things).
It’s been 20 years since Harry Potter took the world by storm. Since then, so many young adult and teen books have crossed over to adult audiences – books featuring everything from emo teen vampires to oppressive dystopian worlds. And, of course, magic. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the world’s favorite boy wizard, here are five magical post-Potter YA series.
CITY OF BONES
The Mortal Instruments Series
by CASSANDRA CLARE
Why I love this magic system: It’s just so… cool, from the tattooed rune magic of the angelic Shadowhunters and their glowing seraph blades to Clary’s ability to draw things into being. It was Harry Potter for people like me, who prefer their YA magic with more of a street-wise edge.
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.
The Curse Workers Series
by HOLLY BLACK
Why I love this magic system: I love the magic in most of Holly Black’s books, to be totally honest. But this one, I mean… it’s magical mobsters! Do I even need to say more?
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider; the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things to, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic, where a single touch can bring love - or death - and your dreams might be more real than your memories.
SHADOW AND BONE
The Grisha Series
by LEIGH BARDUGO
Why I love this magic system: The Darkling. Yes, I also love the lush world and the Russian influences, the Rasputin-esque Apparat, the detailed, different kinds of magic and Alina’s training, but… I love the Darkling more. Can a single character count as an entire system of magic?
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC
Shades of Magic Series
by V.E. SCHWAB
Why I love this magic system: I loved the magic in all its shades and forms: blood magic, sigil magic, hypnotic-evil-rock magic… Traveling through walls and worlds magic. The four Londons of those different worlds. I even love Kell’s magical, ever-changing coat. Magic is just so inherent in every aspect of this world, it’s impossible to single any one thing out (this book might even soon have movie magic behind it, too).
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series
by LAINI TAYLOR
Why I love this magic system: Because Laini Taylor is made of magic, as are the words and worlds she weaves. From the pain tithe needed to perform magic, Karou’s hamsas, otherworldy blue hair and her wish-granting necklace of teeth, to the magic portals and her adopted family of monsters, and their angelic-chimaeric world beyond, this entire book is magic and impossible not to love.
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?