The best portal fantasy adventure books

Sarah Ashwood Author Of Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset
By Sarah Ashwood

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by fairytales since I was a little girl, watching Disney movies with my grandparents. As I grew older, I read fairy tales almost insatiably and was also drawn to mythology and folklore of every variety. When I discovered the fantasy genre, in my early teens, it was like coming home…a genre that combined all of the elements I’d grown up devouring: fairytales, mythology, and folklore. My love of fantasy developed my love of portal fantasy—the idea that other realms, other worlds, other dimensions exist, and we can travel between or to them. I wrote my first portal fantasy novel at eighteen and have continued writing fantasy and portal fantasy novels ever since. 


I wrote...

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset

By Sarah Ashwood,

Book cover of Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset

What is my book about?

Hannah's college plans didn't include becoming the prophesied savior of a parallel world or getting tangled up with an immortal warrior. They sure didn't include learning to wield magic or holding the fate of an entire realm in her hands. In fact, Hannah's pretty resistant to the entire idea...until she learns that, in order to survive, she'll have to become a woman with magic. The Artan.

Sometimes, before you can save others, you first have to save yourself.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Can I Get There by Candlelight?

By Jean Slaughter Doty,

Book cover of Can I Get There by Candlelight?

Why this book?

This book is technically more ghost/time travel than strictly fantasy, but it was the book that opened my eyes to the idea of “portal fantasy.” It’s the story of a teenage girl in an old mansion who is able, with her horse, Candlelight, to travel through a portal and meet the girl who lived in the mansion many years before her. It was mysterious, slightly spooky, and used the idea of parallel worlds in such a unique way. I read hundreds of books as a teen, but this one really stuck with me. 


Arena

By Karen Hancock,

Book cover of Arena

Why this book?

This was probably the next book that confirmed the concept of portal fantasy for me. It’s an allegorical story of a young woman’s fight against evil and evil forces, but starts out on Earth before moving to a parallel fantastical realm. I remember reading this as a teen and being fascinated by the idea of moving back and forth between worlds. At this time, I wasn’t even aware of the term “portal fantasy” or the subgenre, but Arena developed my interest in it. 


Timeline

By Michael Crichton,

Book cover of Timeline

Why this book?

I’m not exactly sure if this book qualifies as pure fantasy, but it’s definitely on the fantastical side. An old man from a distant era shows up in the desert, which ultimately leads a group of scientists to follow him back to his realm, the Middle Ages. This was another fun time travel/portal book that explored the idea of parallel times and parallel dimensions, meshing modern times with the medieval era. 


The Circle: The Complete Volumes of Black, Red, White, & Green

By Ted Dekker,

Book cover of The Circle: The Complete Volumes of Black, Red, White, & Green

Why this book?

Christian/Inspirational fantasy and thriller with a solid portal fantasy plot. I read several Ted Dekker books and series when I was a teen, but this one stood out to me because of the notion of two realms and how a protagonist could be a normal human being in one realm, Earth, and a savior, a leader, a “chosen one” in the other. 


The Iron King

By Julie Kagawa,

Book cover of The Iron King

Why this book?

This is my favorite portal fantasy series. It truly defined portal fantasy for me, on top of all of the other books/series that I’ve already mentioned. 

Meghan is your average teen…until she discovers a portal to a parallel world, the world of the Fey. This series has Meghan, and creatures from the fey realm, traveling back and forth as Meghan seeks to discover her true identity and her role in both worlds. 

I loved how this series was fantasy but intertwined traditional fairytale creatures, storylines, and elements with Kagawa’s own twist on the Fey, along with Shakespearean creatures and even Shakespearean humor. 

The Iron Fey is always my foremost recommendation for anyone who enjoys a great portal fantasy series, with one foot grounded on Earth, in reality, and the other in the fantastical.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in time travel, France, and allegory?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about time travel, France, and allegory.

Time Travel Explore 154 books about time travel
France Explore 587 books about France
Allegory Explore 23 books about allegory

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hot Zone, The Night Circus, and Waterfall if you like this list.