3 books to read if you loved Harry Potter
Whip-smart young protagonists getting out of tough situations. Stories that skew a little dark, but also a little magical. Characters coming of age while carrying burdens beyond their years and facing adversaries that would send most grown-ups running home to their mamas.
Harry Potter is on everyone's mind with the success of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. If you're still hunting for a book that gives you that Harry Potter feeling, we've got three suggestions for you.
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Once upon a time...: Charlie and Thomas become friends at an exclusive boarding school in 1900-ish England. They're sons of important people, being groomed to take over the country. But civil unrest is stirring. Oh, and if you do — or think — anything bad, smoke comes out of your pores, marking you as a sinner.
Reminds us of: Dystopia + political intrigue + complicated romance + revolution = Divergent. But set in England, a century ago. You'll see.
Kid friendly? Sorry, kids — Smoke is intended for the grown-up set.
Adult friendly? Don't be fooled by the posh boarding-school setting — this one's for you.
Prestige points: Dan Vyleta's previous novel, The Crooked Maid, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Relevant Harry Potter character: Dumbledore's Army.
From the book: "The laws of Smoke are complex. Not every lie will trigger it. A fleeting thought of evil may pass unseen; a fib, an excuse, a piece of flattery. Next thing you know its smell is in your nose. There is no more hateful smell in the world than the smell of Smoke."
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Once upon a time...: Plain Kate is alone in the world after her father dies of a mysterious plague. To make matters worse, the superstitious townspeople around her think she might be a witch - and they burn witches. So when a stranger shows up and offers to give Plain Kate her heart's desire in exchange for her shadow, she's left with little choice but to accept a bargain she has a very bad feeling about.
Reminds us of: An Eastern European folklore-flavoured cousin to The Golden Compass, with the occasional dash of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Kid friendly? Yes. Ages 12 and up.
Adult friendly? Fans of the earlier Harry Potter books will find this right up their alley.
Prestige points: Plain Kate was Erin Bow's debut novel, and it took home the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, the country's richest prize for children's literature.
Relevant Harry Potter character: Ginny Weasley.
From the book: "The stranger was selling the witchcraft that people craved to protect them. But he would likely be gone when they began to look for someone to blame."
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Once upon a time...: Orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip show up on the doorstep of the creepy Windsor estate looking for work. The Windsor family definitely seems a little odd, but Molly is desperate, so she takes a job as their housekeeper. Then the nightmares start.
Reminds us of: Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe.
Kid friendly? Yes, but maybe not as a bedtime story. Ages 10 and up.
Adult friendly? Yes, but... maybe not as a bedtime story. A quick, satisfying read.
Prestige points: The Night Gardener was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — text, and it won the Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Award. The GGLA committee said it was "destined to become a classic."
Relevant Harry Potter character: The Whomping Willow.
From the book: "Molly stared back, and for the first time in her life, she had no story or smile for him. 'You were right, Kip.' Her voice was shaking. 'Right all along. We never shoulda come here. Tomorrow we run.'"