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What would you recommend for someone who loved the Harry Potter series and Maggie Stiefvater's books but couldn't get into Graceling or Tolkien's books?
#1 - March 25, 2014, 05:41 PM
THE BOY NEXT DOOR, Macmillan Swoon Reads February 2015

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You might try Susan Cooper's THE DARK IS RISING series and Ursula LeGuin's A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA
#2 - March 25, 2014, 06:07 PM
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths - CSIRO Pub. Oct. 2021

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I will second The Dark Is Rising!! I love that series.

I also had to trudge through Tolkien. He writes beautifully (obviously) but is too descriptive for me at times.
#3 - March 25, 2014, 06:29 PM

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Hm, it depends on why that person (you? someone you know?) liked the one pair but not the other. I see two large differences between them, one being fantasy in the real world vs. a fantasy world entirely, and the other being a very close POV where the characters are very open to the reader and...maybe chatty isn't the right word, but where it's easy to get to know them--vs. characters who are Characters, which take more effort on the part of the reader to get to know them. (And possibly you have something very different in mind altogether.)

That said, while I have read all of the books you mention, my tastes tend to lean that way, too. I don't know if any of these will hit the sweet spot, but here are some that I've liked, and why:

Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series--somewhat steampunkish (but light on the tech) series about a cabin boy on an air ship, his dreams of going to space, and a wealthy girl whose dream in the late 1800s/early 1900s is to be a naturalist and catalog fantastical beasts. Oh, and there are pirates and various chases and such. It's set in our world, sort of, but with differences.

Magic Under Glass, by Jaclyn Dolamore--set in an alternate world, but one that feels very matter of fact and like ours, only with magic. A dancing girl who immigrated for a better life leaves the circus for a better job at a sorcerer's house. She's to sing and accompany a clockwork automaton who plays the piano. Only--he's not just a bit of clockwork. There's a bit of a mystery, and some exciting moments. The POV is very close and accessible and everyday, despite magic (ie there are no orcs and swords, etc.)

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough--set in our world, a girl whose family are all witches, except she's normal and has no talent. When a stranger comes to the family store, thinking she's her sister and wanting her to help him find a lost family heirloom, she pretends to be said sister so she can feel useful. Only, it gets her into trouble with the other magic clan who has it out for her family. Magic in the real world.

Ruby Red series, by Kerstin Gier--this has both the friendly POV and the real world. Everyone thinks that Gwen's cousin Charlotte is the one who will inherit the time travel gene in the family--only, when they turn 16, it turns out it's Gwen, instead. She hasn't been prepared for anything, and now she has to go on a mission for the secret time traveler group in London to collect blood samples from all the past time travelers to read them into the time travel machine, upon which...*something* amazing will happen. Only no one will tell her what, in case she betrays them like the last Montrose time traveler girl did. And there's a hot time traveling boy, too. :)

Hex Hall series, Rachel Hawkins--this one is in the real world, but skews a lot more paranormal. Girl goes to a school for people with powers (er, for kids who can't really control their powers, let's say), and then finds out that someone's trying to undo the school and attack them all. School story, normal people with magic, and a very humorous POV. But more blood.

Starcrossed, Elizabeth C. Bunce--a full fantasy world, but much more immediate feeling than Graceling. Sort of a historical fantasy? Or fantasy mystery? Political intrigue in a castle stranded during a winter storm, approachable heroine.

Ultraviolet, RJ Anderson--skews more scifi, but in a L'Engle sense. Alison has always seen numbers as colors and seen colors with different sounds. Her mother is afraid of it and wants her to be normal. But when Alison wakes up in a psychiatric ward for supposedly killing a classmate (there's no body, so they can't charge her), she knows either her sanity or her concept of reality is off, because no one can REALLY disintegrate someone just by looking at them. She has to figure out what really happened, even as her strange abilities grow. It's not just a mystery--it's about learning to love who you are. (And there's a very interesting researcher there, too...)

Entwined, Heather Dixon--a retelling of the 12 dancing princesses story. Probably my favorite one. Some roots in the real-life court of Norway? Denmark? Funny with a lot of heart.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson--not sure on this one--it's a bit more like Graceling, set in another world entirely, a girl set up for an arranged marriage because everyone thinks she's a pushover--but it turns out she develops strengths no one expected--not even her. One difference between this and Graceling is that the girl here is not a killer.

Cinder, Marissa Meyer (series)--three of the four books are out, with one more to go. Each retells a fairy tale--but in a sci fi sort of way. It's earth, but the future, and people live on the moon. (But Lunars aren't quite like earth people--they have mind powers, for one thing.) Cinder's a mechanic in China, and part cyborg after a nasty accident long ago. She meets Kai, the Chinese emperor, who's trying to avert a war with Levana, the Lunar queen. But there's something different about Cinder...she can see through things other people can't. And despite being "just" a mechanic, might be the most important person on earth yet.

Shadows, Robin McKinley--set on a kind of alternate earth, on a continent that deals in science, not magic--except magic is coming through. Road trips and sentient algebra books and a stepfather with strange shadows around's different!

Marissa Doyle's books--historical fantasy, ie think Jane Austen, but with magic. If you like these, you might like the Wrede/Stevermer book Sorcery and Cecelia as well.
#4 - March 25, 2014, 06:33 PM

This seems obvious, but have you tried the Percy Jackson series? And then the sequel series "Heroes of Olympus?" by Rick Riordan?
#5 - March 25, 2014, 07:23 PM
THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2018)

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Kenneth Oppel's Silverwing trilogy.
#6 - March 26, 2014, 09:46 AM

Barb  :owl


I'd give Holly Black a try. Valiant's a solid urban fantasy story - Tithe and the Curse Workers series are also good.

This is more high fantasy, but maybe also Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. It's exciting and fairly fast-paced, a little less Tolkien and a little more C.S. Lewis.
#7 - March 26, 2014, 09:55 AM

Mike Jung

You might consider Scott Westerfeld - his books tend to be less formal and more contemporary in tone than GRACELING or LOTR, and they're crackingly good in terms of both fast-paced adventure and character relationships.
#8 - March 26, 2014, 10:18 AM

I'm a fantasy reader, who tends not to like "epic" fantasy (like Tolkein), but historical fantasy and fantasy-light.
In addition to all the great books already mentioned (nice list, olmue!), I've enjoyed:
The False Prince and sequels by Jennifer Nielsen
The False Princess Eilis O'Neal
Historical fantasy by Marissa Doyle :)
Fairy tale retellings by Gail Carson Levine, Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George
#9 - March 26, 2014, 07:27 PM

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All great suggestions, although I don't think The False Prince series is a fantasy at all.

Other suggestions: The Magic Thief series, by Sarah Prineas.
                             The Dreamdark series, by Laini Taylor, even though she still has to write the last book
                             Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo
                             The Hollow Kingdom series, by Claire Dunkle

Hope you find something here you like.

#10 - March 27, 2014, 09:45 AM

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Maybe also Megan Whalen Turner starting with The Thief.
#11 - March 27, 2014, 07:38 PM


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