The best children’s fantasy series (beyond Harry Potter)

Kevin Sands Author Of Children of the Fox
By Kevin Sands

The Books I Picked & Why

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1)

By Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1)

Why this book?

The most important element of urban fantasy is its worldbuilding. The best of the genre creates a city that’s not only familiar but feels even better than the real thing, the kind of place a young reader wishes they could live. Well, Jonathan Stroud is about as good at worldbuilding as it gets. Here he infuses modern London with a problem—or, rather, The Problem—the dead just won’t stay dead, in a series that’s tense and creepy, but also filled with his signature wit and humour. 


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Dragonwatch, 1: A Fablehaven Adventure (Dragonwatch #1)

By Brandon Mull, Brandon Dorman

Dragonwatch, 1: A Fablehaven Adventure (Dragonwatch #1)

Why this book?

Jurassic Park meets Lord of the Rings. Need I say more? Fablehaven, and its sequel series, Dragonwatch, draws upon centuries of mythology to create a wildlife haven—or, rather, a "monsterlife" haven—protected by a kindhearted cast of rogues. The series’ biggest strength is that author Brandon Mull understands there’s something sinister lying behind most fairytales, and he brings that danger to every scene. 


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Fly by Night (Mosca Mye #1)

By Frances Hardinge

Fly by Night (Mosca Mye #1)

Why this book?

Most readers were introduced to Hardinge’s work when The Lie Tree won the Costa Book of the Year Award (only the second children’s book ever to do so; Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass was the first). But fans who’ve been reading her since Fly By Night, the first book in her Mosca Mye series, already knew that Frances Hardinge is the most imaginative writer in children’s fantasy today. Her brilliant debut introduced the charmingly hostile Mosca Mye, her murderous goose, Saracen, and her hapless partner-in-crime, Eponymous Clent—and the sequel, Twilight Robbery, is even better. There are only two books in the series so far; I hope every year for a third. 


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The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

Why this book?

If you like stories that keep you guessing, then Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendance series was written for you. Featuring a clever, likable protagonist (Sage, a thief from the streets, recruited into a plot to impersonate the dead Prince Jaron and steal the throne), the first book, The False Prince, is a slow burn of secrets, lies, and conspiracies—and totally worth the price of admission on its own. 


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The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1)

By Tui T. Sutherland

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1)

Why this book?

When your main characters are all dragons, your biggest challenge is making them relatable. Sutherland does this expertly, showcasing her dragonets’ alien nature through fun, dragonlike qualities, all the while imbuing them with an inner humanity that will have young readers rooting for the heroes as soon as the Mudwing, Clay, lumbers onto the page. With fourteen books already out—and one more to come—this series is a dragon lover's dream.


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