Before there was...Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Guess what?  I'm a nerd.  And I'm about as obsessed with Harry Potter as one can be--minus buying a wand, but only because I could never afford one.  Mark me, I'll own one someday!  To put right next to my future awesome collection of Lord of the Rings swords.  Anyway.  Hem.  Harry Potter.  Awesome.  Read it.  And if you've already read it, read these other great books also about wizards, magic, and snarky British children!  

Before there was Harry Potter 

by J.K. Rowling, there was . . . 

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
 Remember when I said these would pop up again when I did Harry Potter?  Well.  Here you go.  Diana Wynne Jones is one of the most amazing people and writers ever ever ever.  Her books are filled with snark, whimsy, action, and magic, all the things Potter is famous for.  The Chrestomanci books (of which there are six and change) center around various young people with magical problems.  Sometimes worlds where witchcraft is banned, and shouldn't be.  Sometimes rebellious young goddesses who want to escape their bondage before they're killed.  Sometimes battling households who must come together to save their kidnapped children.  And always, to save the day, there is the powerful wizard: Chrestomanci. 

Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
You didn't think I'd only include her once on this list, did you?  This book is the sequel to her most excellent epic, Dark Lord of Derkholm.  In it, Derk's griffin daughter, Elda, goes to magic school.  Sound familiar?  Ya know, except that she's a griffin.  She falls in with a gang of motley students who all have their own problems:  poor kingdoms, assassins, disapproving fathers, wars.  Follow Elda and her friends as they struggle to learn magic--and to stay alive.  A classic magic school with all the whimsy of Hogwarts and a high fantasy twist. 

You want some more Earth preteens discovering magical powers?  Look no further.  Nina thinks it's just a joke when she finds it in the library, a book called So You Want to be a Wizard? in the same series as all the other career books.  Then she opens it.  Suddenly, she can see things no one else can.  Do things that should be impossible.  Speak a language that can control the world around her.  But magic is not without its price, and she learns that there is more to magic than just wanting something done.  And that she's not alone.  She and fellow wizard Kit travel through Earth and the surrounding worlds struggling to take hold of the powers they've been given.  The series follows them and Nina's younger sister through a part-fantasy, part-sci-fi saga of discovery and a very clever magic system.

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What other older or obscure books 
remind you of Harry Potter?


  1. Great suggestions! I'm not familiar with the first two, but remember enjoying So You Want To Be A Wizard. Can't think of any other books that remind me of Harry Potter...

    1. I loved those but I never finished the series, sadly. Thanks!

  2. Now THIS is my kind of list. Thanks so much for the recommendations!

    1. Glad you enjoy them! Let me know if you think of things I could add.

  3. +JMJ+

    I love both Diana Wynne Jones and Diane Duane! =D I wish they were better known and better loved.