The best books to whisk you away to magical lands you never knew you wanted to visit

Who am I?

I was born in a stable close to the Himalayas in India. The family farm was buzzing with animals and one of the most wonderful was a wild monkey called Oma who adopted our family and insisted on living with us. This is where the magic in my life began. My Grandmother was the storyteller in my family, so even after we emigrated to England when I was only 18 months old, our house was filled with magical stories, many with roots in India. So when I became a children’s author it was this magic that I wanted to bring to my stories and it was this magic that drew me to reading.

I wrote...

Asha and the Spirit Bird

By Jasbinder Bilan,

Book cover of Asha and the Spirit Bird

What is my book about?

Asha lives on the family farm with her mother in rural India. Her father is away working in the city, and when the money he sends stops suddenly, a wicked debt collector arrives. She’s determined to seize the property – and the treasure rumoured to be hidden on the land. Guided by a majestic bird which Asha believes to be the spirit of her grandmother, she and her best friend Jeevan embark on a journey to the city, across the Himalayas, to find her father and save her home. 

Three words to describe this book: Magical - Indian - Adventure.

The books I picked & why

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Book cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Why this book?

This book was one of my favorites when I was growing up. It was the one I kept under my pillow so I could bring it out in the early hours of the morning and get back to the story. I loved it because it takes something very ordinary – a wardrobe – and through it the children discover a magical land. Who wouldn’t want to be a king or queen instead of a normal boy or girl? And this was what sparked my imagination!


By Peter Bunzl,

Book cover of Magicborn

Why this book?

If you’ve ever believed in fairies then this is the book for you. I adored the setting of the Greenwoods where twins Storm Girl and Wild Boy are born and live until they are forced to leave. This is where the adventure begins – and what an adventure. It’s a book full of feisty characters, which is something I admire. They simply won’t give up and keep going until they uncover the secrets about their past. The other adorable character in this book is Coriel who is a robin who can talk to Storm Girl. I’ve always wished I could understand bird language! This is the first of a new series and I simply can’t wait for the next one.

The Good Thieves

By Katherine Rundell,

Book cover of The Good Thieves

Why this book?

This is a book that makes you feel like you’ve been whisked away to another era completely and on top of that it also transports you to a new place. I always love going somewhere exciting and full of adventure and this is exactly what happens. The story also shows us a hero who won’t be limited by her disability – Vita suffered from Polio as a little girl and this has made her more determined. She’s brave and forthright and will do anything to save her family's fortunes.

The Girl of Ink & Stars

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave,

Book cover of The Girl of Ink & Stars

Why this book?

The magic in this story is all about stars and maps. These are things that are very close to my heart. When I was a little girl growing up on our family farm close to the Himalayan mountains stars were an ever-present backdrop to the nights. We loved sitting beneath them and telling stories. Even though I was too young to remember these times, when my family moved to the UK we kept the magic alive by remembering those times. This is the sort of feeling I get when I read this book. It’s filled with magic and possibility.

In Darkling Wood

By Emma Carroll,

Book cover of In Darkling Wood

Why this book?

Imagine if you could meet someone from the past without realising? This is what drew me to this magical book. When you are young there are things you just don’t question and this is what I was like. I saw things that adults would have said weren’t there. But I didn’t believe them. I only believed in the power of my imagination. For me anything could appear; a small creature under a tree in the garden or Santa’s sleigh flying through the sky at Christmas – it was all so real I could reach out and touch it. In Darkling Wood is one of those stories that wrap themselves around you and whisk you away, where you’ll leave believing in magic!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fairies, New York State, and magical realism?

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