5 Uncommon Books Harry Potter Fans Will Love

Once you’ve finished the Harry Potter series, you feel the desperate need to read it again. And again. And again. And then you read The Cursed Child. And then the Hogwarts Library. And then the Fantastic Beasts screenplays. Eventually you will run out of good Harry Potter related reading material.


But that does not mean you have to stop there. I know the desperate need to find a new world to join and love just as much as the Wizarding World.


Of course, you can read Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia just like everyone else. But there are some lesser known books that anyone who enjoys Harry Potter will find solace in just as much.

Nevermoor

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend is easily my third favorite book of all time. Just like the separation of the Wizard and Muggle worlds, the world of Nevermoor is split.

Morrigan Crow, like Harry Potter, is an normal child save for one thing. She is doomed to die on her eleventh birthday. And, like Harry, a mysterious stranger comes to her aid, Jupiter North. Jupiter takes Morrigan away from the dull and corrupt Wintersea Rublic to the wonderfully crazy Free State city of Nevermoor.

However, she has her own Voldemort pursuing her, the Wundersmith. Nevermoor has two books that succeed it and Townsend is still working on the series, so there is lots to look forward to.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is more of a mature read than Harry Potter but I still believe Wizarding World lovers will enjoy it.

Just like Rowling’s unique take on magic, Morgenstern has taken it to the next level. Magic exists, yes, but magicians hide amongst ordinary people. The magicians parade their gifts as mere conjuring tricks but do not need smoke and mirrors to create illusion. Two young people, Celia and Marco, youths with the gift of sorcery, have been bound together from a young age by their guardians. This bond has them playing their lives like a chess match, seeing who can outshine the other in a contest of magical prowess.

The Night Circus is the board and they are the players…or are they the pawns?

The Grishaverse

Just as Rowling crafted her own world, large as life, Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is as real as Hogwarts.

Magic and normalcy are collided in the same steampunk/fantasy land. Grisha are men and women who can harness the power of elements. While they live amongst normal people they are often either praised or punished for their magic. Many Grisha hide their abilities and some do not even know the power is theirs. Three series and have been written in the Grishaverse so far, Shadow and BoneSix of Crows, and King of Scars.

I read Six of Crows before Shadow and Bone by accident, but I would advise reading the series in order, even if the former is so much better.

The Inquisitior’s Tale

The Inquisitor’s Tale or Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz is by far the most hilarious book on this list.

Set in the Middle Ages, Jeanne, Jacob, and William are the Medieval equivalent of the Golden Trio…plus a dog. Tales and folklore of magic are told and celebrated but when these three children are revealed to have miraculous abilities they are persecuted and rejected. Even threatened with burning at the stake! The story is told by a group of travelers at an inn; a Brewster, a nun, a librarian, the innkeeper, a jongleur, a chronicler, a king’s companion, a troubadour, and, of course, the Inquisitor.

The tale is original and the format unique, Potterheads of any age will love it.

The Night Gardener

Magic is not always good, as Voldemort and his Death Eaters have demonstrated. This rings true in Jonathan Axiur’s The Night Gardener.

Molly and her lame brother, Kip, are orphans and have gone to work for the Windsor’s. The Windsor’s live in a crumbling and bleak mansion in an island of woods and the family all have the same gaunt pale skin and dead black hair and eyes. But the most peculiar and ominous omen is the twisting tree that is apart of the house. Molly and Kip soon begin hearing noises in the night…loud footfalls and rustling leaves. What will the children do when the dark magic begins to overtake them as their hair and eyes darken, just like the grim Windsor’s?

What secrets are hidden in the mansion and, more importantly, the great tree that grows darker every day?


Reading these books will put you in the same magical trance that Harry Potter did, and most likely still does. Yes, they don’t have Harry, Ron, and Hermione in them but this is the opportunity to fall for new characters. I promise these books will not disappoint if you give them a chance!

Unlocking Sherlock

I used to attend a homeschool co-op. My teacher gave us these little surveys to fill out on each subject. I was going through my old school papers and found this;

If you can’t read my tenth grade handwriting it says;

The most important event in all of world history is when to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sat all alone in his small optometry office and first thought of Sherlock Holmes (or, at the time, Sherrinford Holmes.)

To which my teacher replied;

You might be a little obsessed 🙂

The same teacher gave me a very fancy copy of the Complete Sherlock Holmes as a graduation present.

It is safe to assume from what you have read, that I am completely in love with Sherlock Holmes.

However, the problem with loving classic literature means that it is probable that your favorite author has long been retired. Meaning that the 56 short stories and the four novels that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about Sherlock are all I am ever going to get from him. 

And that is why I picked up Lock and Key by Ridley Pearson. 

The book had been sitting on the living room bookshelf for about two years…my mistake. I finally picked it up. To be perfectly honest, the back cover synopsis of the book did not truly reflect what the book actually was.

My first impression of its description led me to believe it was set in Victorian London, told from the perspective of Moriarty’s brother. If you have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem, you would know that Dr. John Watson tells us a little about Moriarty’s brother. 

But this is not the case. From reading Lock and Key, I deduce that Ridley Pearson is not a true Sherlockian. I can tell he has not studied the as books intimately as I have nor has an all consuming love for all things Doyle as I do.

However, that does not mean the book itself is bad.

The Lock and Key series is based on the modernization of Sherlock Holmes in his youth. The main idea Pearson has however is not about Sherlock. It is based on Sherlock’s arch enemy, James Moriarty and told from the perspective of his sister.

Before I get too far into the characters or plot, I first want to address the use of “modernization.” 

I know most classic lit lovers shy away from the word as if it were a rattlesnake. And I totally understand that. It is a risky move to take. Personally though, I usually enjoy modernization tropes. BBC Sherlock is my favorite TV show and it literally seems to pluck Sherlock & Co. from the Victorian era into modern day society. 

While Ridley Pearson does not execute this idea as well as BBC Sherlock does, I am of the opinion that he does it well enough.

The main characters are of course Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty, and they are accompanied by James’s little sister, Moria. 

Original characters (OCs) can be another risk to put in a retelling. I often times enjoy OCs but I am also their harshest critic. Moria Moriarty is…an okay OC. But I feel that the story Ridley Pearson created could have been told without her. 

And there is the issue of her name…Moria. 

Parents don’t just go from naming their first kid James and then their second Moria. James is a common name and Moria obviously is not. In BBC Sherlock there is an OC named Eros who is Sherlock’s sister. But her name is perfectly fine. We got Mycroft and Sherlock, some weirdo names, and Eros fits in perfectly. Moria, however, sticks out from James like a sore thumb.

However I do commend Pearson for making Moria a good narrator but also a distinct side character. She isn’t as logical as Sherlock nor as intelligent as James. But she does own her own skill sets, such as her curiosity.

When I first read Pearson’s description of Sherlock, I laughed out loud because he totally watches the BBC show…I mean, shocking blue eyes, high cheek bones, pale skin…? Sorry, that isn’t Sherlock, that is Benedict Cumberbatch.

I enjoy Pearson’s young Sherlock over the young Sherlock in the movie Young Sherlock Holmes. One fact that many people don’t know is that Sherlock isn’t Spock. He’s not a Vulcan nor a computer. While Sherlock may call love “human error” or show contempt at sentiment, he does not remain immune to human feeling. Pearson recognizes this and allows Sherlock the freedom to laugh, joke, and tease as he pleases. Except when he gets “in the zone.” When Sherlock is in the heat of deduction, solving a problem, or thinking around a situation, he does not revert to his human whims. 

I understand that it is hard to nail James Moriarty’s character on the head. We get little dialogue from him in The Final Problem and soon after, bye, bye, Jimmie. There are many different takes on Moriarty, and Pearson’s own works.

It isn’t spectacular, but it works. 

James is changeable. He has a moral compass and he knows what is right but he puts more stock into power and what he wants. Throughout the series he switches between being on the enemy’s side and being on Sherlock’s side. 

From the very beginning, he does not want to be Sherlock’s friend. They are roommates together at Baskerville Academy and while Sherlock attempts a companionship with James, the latter blatantly refuses the offer. Later, James does admit that he and Sherlock are friends. And still later, they become sworn enemies.

I wasn’t especially into the plot…secret societies have never really been my thing. And I don’t think it went entirely well with Sherlock and James as a whole. However, the scenes and situations in themselves where perfect. Pearson only needed a different overall concept. 

What kept me reading was the one liners, the quips that Sherlock made passive aggressively to tell James how stupid he was. Or James calling Sherlock “Sherlost.” And all the banter…priceless.

My biggest disappointment was the exclusion of any other canon characters. The only attachment to Doyle’s original books where Sherlock and James. No John Watson, no Irene Adler, no Henry Knight, no Dr. Mortimer, no Sebastian Moran…none of them were included! 

I kept turning pages hoping John would come in as a new exchange student in Baskerville Academy, or something…but no!

Mycroft was mentioned ONCE. Sherlock names him as his older brother who has been his legal guardian since their parents died.

I did hope that Mycroft might come in when Sherlock got expelled from Baskerville. I mean, Mycroft would be MAD. He’d be furious with his little brother for getting kicked out of an expensive prep school. But he doesn’t even cameo.

And when Sherlock is supposed to be in London but actually stays in Boston? Sherlock never says how he did that. Because if I know Mycroft Holmes, he would be after his brother like the Hound of the Baskervilles. I mean, that is Mycroft, an overly protective, condescending big brother. But no, Sherlock doesn’t even say he tricked Mycroft into letting him stay in Boston.

All in all, the series is worth a read if you just need more Sherlock. I certainly did. And if you aren’t a huge Sherlockian, you might enjoy the series. But it could have been better if Pearson had done a bit more research or loved the original stories a bit more. 

Books, War, and Potato Pies

I recall being in a bookshop when I first heard of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I can only call it fate. One of my best friends, Olivia, recommended it to me as we browsed the dusty clearance shelf. 

Olivia is the one friend I can safely say loves books as much as I. If she recommends a book, I am left in no doubt that it is a stunner. Which is why I am surprised that it took me so long to lay my hands on a copy.

The book isn’t scarce or hard to find. I merely forgot about it. Which is completely horrible of me. In my defense it isn’t too hard to forget. The title is quite a mouthful.

My mother and I were cleaning out our book stock when I saw we owned a copy. I was short on reading material, having have just finished a Jane Austen biography. So of course I sat down for a read. I am not ashamed to admit I did little else than that for several days.

I expected to be enjoying tea in a china cup with a scone sprinkled with sugar granules on top as I read the book. However, while the setting is in the Channel Islands (islands loyal to the British Crown, located in the English Channel, between the United Kingdom and France) and England, it is more than tea and crumpets. 

More than tea and crumpets? What a beautiful phrase.

The book is set in post WWll. It is a collection of fictional letters, wires, and telegrams sent and received amongst several characters. There is no real “main character” and I love the book all the more for it. No one is insignificant, and everyone’s role is equally as important as the next person. 

In the book, a journalist and author named Juliet Ashton has just hit it big with her collection on wartime anecdotes she published under the name Izzy Bickerstaff. 

She corresponds mostly with Sydney Stark, her publisher and friend, and Sophie Stachan, Sydney’s sister. Later, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer from Guernsey who owns a book by Charles Lamb which Juliet previously owned.

That is when Juliet first hears of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Which is better? Juliet’s meeting the Society by mysterious letter or my encounter with the Society in a bookshop?I favor the bookshop, as is usual. 

Guernsey was home to German occupation for most of the war. Unlike  France who signed an armistice with Germany, the Chanel Islands were taken over by the Germans purely through force. 

The book does not emphasize on this, but while researching the occupation I learned that Guernsey was taken over two years before France was even in the picture. Winston Churchill had demilitarized the islands because protecting them led to no strategic advantage. 

These were BRITISH CITIZENS, left abandoned and unprotected by their own country. The injustice of it all just triggers me. Did you ever learn about the German occupation of the Channel Islands in school? Probably not. Yes, France was important and a part of significant World War history but were is Guernsey’s recognition?

Letters from Juliet, Sidney, Susan, Dawsey, as well as Amelia Maugery (a Molly Weasley to the Society), Isola Pribby (if the 1940’s had millennials), Eben Ramsey (that one grandpa…you know which), and others who are equally as important, paint a vivid picture of the horrors of war, too close too home. 

But this isn’t a hopeless novelization of war time. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in the fruits of war but the Society was birthed by community and fellowship, something the victims of occupation sorely missed. I won’t give out any spoilers but…illegal roast pig.

I have never learned a more valuable lesson than this; if feelings are mentionable, they are manageable. Fred Rogers taught that to thousands of children, including my mother, who taught it to me. 

War creates emotion and trial, brokenness and bonds. If we can talk about it with others, we can get through it. The experiences each individual in the Society goes through would be unbearable if they didn’t have their friends to help carry their burden.

Nothing is worse than cutting yourself off from people for any reason. The only way to heal and grow is to open yourself up and connect. And that is what the Society is all about.

I greatly recommend reading this book, even if you aren’t an Angliophile. It is an easy read but I advise taking the time to really take the book slowly. There are so many “in-between the lines” philosophies and deep and simple concepts that smooth the soul. Welcome to the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!