1. Anything by Tamora Pierce
She’s the master at creating universes led by strong female characters. I would suggest starting with Alanna: The First Adventure, because well, it’s the first adventure. This book follows the story of Alanna, a young girl who disguises herself as her twin brother to begin training to become a knight. The series is full of magic, adventure, romance, and like I said, really badass female characters.
2. Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
In the kingdom of Prydain, a young Assistant Pig-Keeper sets out on an adventure to save Prydain from an encroaching evil force. It includes all the elements that made Harry Potter such a success: friendship, magic, and the complex meaning of being a leader and a hero.
3. Redwall series by Brian Jacques
Yes, the series stars a bunch of talking animals, but it’s so much more than that. The first book, aptly titled Redwall, follows the story of Matthias, a bumbling field mouse as he tries to defend the peaceful Redwall Abbey from Cluny, an evil rat, and his army. Plus, if you like this book, there are twenty-one other books in the series.
4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
This classic series explores the story of King Arthur’s court through the women’s perspective. There’s a huge cast of characters and it spans a large time period, truly making this series into an epic.
5. Old Magic by Marianne Curley
I remember reading this book and being super disappointed when I realized there wasn’t a sequel to it. This book follows two teenagers trying to unravel the mysterious powers that one boy has that are somehow linked to earlier generations of his family.
6. Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer
While this series doesn’t involve quite the same subject matter as the Harry Potter series, it’s still a lot of fun to read. The series follows Jacky Faber, a young, homeless girl in eighteenth-century London who disguises herself as a boy to get a job as a ship’s boy. Soon enough, she’s stuck on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic, desperately trying to hide her real identity.
7. The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini
I have to include this series, even though it resulted in a truly terrible movie. It’s another book that follows a poor farm boy that discovers that his destiny will take him much further than his small homestead. In this book, the boy becomes a Dragon Rider and becomes intricately involved with the fate of the Empire he lives in.