The best books that combine magic with the mundane

Marva Dasef Author Of The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim
By Marva Dasef

The Books I Picked & Why

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

By J.K. Rowling, Mary Grandpré

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Why this book?

I read my first Harry Potter book as an adult and was immediately hooked on the series. I've always loved fantasy books but was getting bored with medieval-style high fantasy books. Harry Potter manages to bridge the divide between children's books and adults. I was encouraged to write my own fantasy stories for adults but with teen and adult characters. Harry has Hogwarts. My witch, Kat, has a whole island devoted to educating the young in the craft.


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Silverlock

By John Myers Myers

Book cover of Silverlock

Why this book?

Most people don't even know about this book. Written in 1946, it's just a little older than I am. I read it years ago and was delighted by Myers' world woven from existing fantasy and legend. I also use what has worked before to make my own books both familiar and new. How convenient when you have a perfectly fantastic cauldron of long-held material completely free for the taking. I, as did Myers, took full advantage of the vast pool of wonderful existing ideas. “Silverlock” certainly showed me I could freely dip from the pool and just twist it a bit to fit my own tale.


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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

By Mark Twain

Book cover of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Why this book?

I love Mark Twain and it was hard to choose just one of his many books. Several fit the bill of my theme: a person pulled out of their place or time and having to contend with the possibility of magic. Connecticut Yankee fits my idea of great fantasy. I like to have characters one might reasonably meet at a bar. At the same time, I want those characters to be out of place or time and have to use their wits in extraordinary ways. Hank Morgan is an average guy who is thrust back in time to King Author's court. A huge revelation for me is that it shows any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.* I didn't “get” this until I worked in the computer industry and realized we are surrounded by magic but we call it technology.

(The quote is from Arthur C. Clark who “got” it years before we decided to fly to the moon.)


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Storm Front

By Jim Butcher

Book cover of Storm Front

Why this book?

Right after fantasy, my favorite genre is mystery. The Dresden Files gives me both, so it has to be on my favorites list. I put it on my recommendation list because it fits nicely with my own fantasy series. Harry Dresden is a wizard and he puts those skills to use solving crime. My own main character is a witch living in the modern world (no horrible fantasy maps need to be drawn, just get out an atlas) and trying to use her magic in good ways. Just like Harry. Sometimes it doesn't quite work as advertised. My favorite form of fantasy is humorous, so I love the Dresden Files. It touches all the bases with me.


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The Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum, Lizbeth Zwerger

Book cover of The Wizard of Oz

Why this book?

I, like so many others, have loved the story of Dorothy's trip to Oz, plus the other Oz adventures. This is a classic that should be required reading for… well, everybody. The combination of fascinating characters, a magical world (not Kansas for sure), and a journey in search of something. In Dorothy's case, it's the way home. This is a classic theme that L. Frank Baum tells in such an engaging style, it is almost the archetype of the motif if you never heard of Odysseus. Even then, I find the Oz books more engaging and heartfelt than the mythical stories of the Greek hero.


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