The best books if you want to go on a magical adventure

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on fairy tales and folklore in the Appalachian Mountains. Stories of adventure and dusty fairy tale books in my grandmother’s attic were my entertainment. The library trips we took “into town” added to my reading. I discovered that the step from fairy tales to classics wasn’t as wide as folks argue. Years later, when I went off to college, I became an English major, then a graduate student, and then started teaching literature at college. From childhood to adulthood, magic and fiction were my life... which led to selling a book of my own. Over the last 17 years, I’ve been writing fantasy.


I wrote...

The Hidden Dragon

By Melissa Marr,

Book cover of The Hidden Dragon

What is my book about?

A sea-faring girl and her friends take on pirates and grown-ups, and bond with dragons, as they work to make the world a better place. Otter (short for Ottilie) lives on her family’s ship, the Tempest, where she and her fathers collect the dragon hides that protect the queen’s guards. Along with her friend London, Otter faces pirate attacks, the magical land of the Netherwhere (where they get ship-wrecked), and adventures with the realm’s most magical creatures—dragons and gargoyles.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of So You Want to Be a Wizard

Melissa Marr Why did I love this book?

When I first read this book, I realized that the adventure Nita has—opening a book to enter a magical world of magic—was what I wanted every time I had collected my stack of books at the library.

Books are magical, of course, but this was real magic. I think I always hope that I’ll find a portal inside an old book. Still. Even as an adult, I’m looking for the entry into a magical reality.

By Diane Duane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked So You Want to Be a Wizard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Long before wizards were a fixture on the bestseller lists, Kit and Nita were working magic with readers of all ages. So You Want to Be a Wizard is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, featuring a new afterword from Diane Duane as well as the hard-to-find Kit and Nita short story "Uptown Local."


Book cover of The Secret of Platform 13

Melissa Marr Why did I love this book?

Long before Harry Potter came The Secret of Platform 13, and the idea of a railroad station where a magical doorway existed.

I grew up in a town built on the railroad. My grandfather worked as a mechanic at the railyard. My field trips were to train museum or train-related locations, so the idea of hidden portal there made perfect sense to my childhood heart.

Trains take us places, why not a magical world? It simply makes sense to me to find a magical world beyond a train station.

By Eva Ibbotson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret of Platform 13 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Under Platform 13 at King's Cross Station there is a secret door that leads to a magical island . . .

It appears only once every nine years. And when it opens, four mysterious figures step into the streets of London. A wizard, an ogre, a fey and a young hag have come to find the prince of their kingdom, stolen as a baby nine years before.

But the prince has become a horrible rich boy called Raymond Trottle, who doesn't understand magic and is determined not to be rescued.

Shortlisted for the Smarties Prize, The Secret of Platform 13…


Book cover of First Test

Melissa Marr Why did I love this book?

Getting to become a knight? Yes, please!

Childhood me, adult me, mommy me, writer me, all version of me wanted adventure—and swords. Her books were treasured enough in my home that my (now-adult) daughter and I both had to buy replacement copies over the years.

I read Tammy Pierce’s books with my daughter in the years before I was published, never knowing that years later, I’d be teaching sword fighting and chatting with Tammy herself about swords and books.

This recommendation is listing the one book, but it’s part of a whole set of connected series books.

This was our entry into a world of strong adventurous women, and honestly, I’m not sure I’d have ended up a writer if not for her writing.

By Tamora Pierce,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked First Test as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Kel will not allow this first test to be her last. Her adventure begins in the New York Times bestselling series from the fantasy author who is a legend herself: TAMORA PIERCE.
 
Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of a new rule in Tortall—one that allows females to train for knighthood. After years in the Yamani Islands, she knows that women can be warriors, and now that she’s returned home, Kel is determined to achieve her goal. She believes she is ready for the traditional hazing and grueling schedule of a page. But standing…


Book cover of Graceling

Melissa Marr Why did I love this book?

I loved this book since before it was published.

I gave a quote for the cover of the first printing of it, in fact. Fifteen years later, it still remains a book that can carry me away to a world where magic is not a gift but a challenge to overcome.

Kristen had a fresh idea here, but it still folded into my love of adventure and magic and finding out who we are inside.

That’s a story that will always get my attention, and the writing in this one is also lush enough to make me want to pause and re-read lines.

By Kristin Cashore,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Graceling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Discover the Graceling Realm in this unforgettable, award-winning novel from bestselling author Kristin Cashore.

A New York Times bestseller
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature Winner
Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal,Booklist, and BCCB Best Book of the Year

"Rageful, exhilarating, wistful in turns" (The New York Times Book Review) with "a knee weakening romance" (LA Times). Graceling is a thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure that will resonate deeply with anyone trying to find their way in the world.

Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, who is smart and beautiful and lives in the…


Book cover of A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Melissa Marr Why did I love this book?

I had stopped reading children’s and teen fiction for a couple of years, for the first time in my half a century of life, and then I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

There’s a different sort of adventure here, and I think I related to Harper a little bit extra because I have a chronic illness and when it flares up, my limp is so very obvious. It felt good to see magic + that realism.

The combination of magic, a protagonist I could connect to, and fairy tale elements made me start opening the covers of other books I’d bought and shelved.

By Brigid Kemmerer,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked A Curse So Dark and Lonely as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller! "Has everything you'd want in a retelling of a classic fairy tale." - Jodi Picoult In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer. Fall in love, break the curse. It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the…


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Touching the Surface

By Kimberly Sabatini,

Book cover of Touching the Surface

Kimberly Sabatini Author Of Touching the Surface

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Mom Coach Chocolate connoisseur HSP

Kimberly's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she can't remember her past, is getting the cold shoulder from her best friend, and has no idea why she keeps repeating the same mistakes across her previous lives. Elliot just wants to move on, but first, she'll be forced to look at her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. She'll also have to face the person she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her previous lives, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most…

Touching the Surface

By Kimberly Sabatini,

What is this book about?

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.

When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn't remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she'd rather keep buried. Memories of people she's hurt, people she's betrayed...and people she's killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of…


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Interested in wizards, fairy tales, and knights?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wizards, fairy tales, and knights.

Wizards Explore 96 books about wizards
Fairy Tales Explore 300 books about fairy tales
Knights Explore 68 books about knights