5 Fantasy Series to Read if You Feel Like J.K. Rowling Let You Down
If you pay attention to current events in the literary world and/or are on Twitter, you probably know what J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter series, has been up to. I won't go into the details here, but I bring it up because I know a lot of people who feel as though Rowling's transphobic comments have ruined Harry Potter for them. Whether that's been your experience or not, I thought I'd recommend some high quality fantasy series that you can read instead. I may return to the topic of J.K. Rowling in another post, because there's a lot that can be said about separating an author from their work and what Rowling's comments might mean when it comes to her place within the literary canon, but, for the time being, I hope you enjoy the following series!
Note: I haven't finished most of these series and I'll designate how much of it I've read, but just keep that in mind if you end up wanting to blame for giving terrible recommendations.
Second Note: all links lead to the first book in the series
1. The Gemma Doyle trilogy -- Libba Bray
(Book One: A Great and Terrible Beauty)
This trilogy follows Gemma Doyle as she attends a boarding school in Victorian Era England. Gemma's dark family history leads her, and her three close friends, to a secret world and some very dangerous magic. The series is technically YA, but it explores dark themes, including drug addiction and sexual abuse. I reread the series recently and I honestly enjoyed them more as an adult than as a teenager.
2. The Shades of Magic trilogy -- V.E. Schwab
(Book One: A Darker Shade of Magic)
I've only read the first book in this series, but the second calls out to me from my shelf. This trilogy takes place in a universe of parallel Londons and follows the adventures of a smuggler and a robber who form a somewhat shaky alliance to save all of the worlds. Not only is it an enjoyable story, but Schwab has created one of the most unique systems of magic that I've ever read.
3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series -- Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(Book One: The Shadow of the Wind)
This is another series for which I've only read the first book. The four main novels, one novella, and one short story were originally written in Spanish and were translated to English by Lucia Graves. The series takes place in Barcelona in 1945 and follows a boy who gets involved in a secret library and a dangerous mystery. It's one of those stories that was clearly written by a book lover for other book lovers. While I was looking up the series for this post, I found out that Zafón died quite recently, in June, so, rest in peace to a fantastic story-teller.
4. The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan
(Book One: A Natural History of Dragons)
This is yet another series in which I've only read the first book (of five). The series is written in the style of a memoir from the world's top dragon expert. Before she started writing, Brennan worked as an anthropologist and she does an excellent job of incorporating science into a fantasy world. As someone who never really got over her dragon phase, these books are a joy.
5. The Folk of the Air trilogy -- Holly Black
(Book One: The Cruel Prince)
Full disclosure: I haven't read any of the books in this series. However, I feel fairly confident recommending it because Holly Black is a reliably good fantasy writer. She co-wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles, a series I loved as a kid, and also wrote the only modern vampire novel that I actually enjoyed (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown). This series has three main books and two novellas and, from what I understand, it portrays faeries as they're meant to be, absolutely terrifying. I don't know about you all, but that's enough description to get me hooked.