It Must Be Magic

At loose ends because you’re between books? Looking for a new title to love?

Maybe you’d like to reconnect with an old favorite, but you just can’t remember its title. Or perhaps you haven’t done much reading and would like to start— where on earth should you begin?

Talk to an expert!  Send your book question to What Do I Read Next?, our new personalized advice column for book lovers. Let the Ravenous Readers -- our readers advisory professionals -- send some reading love your way!

We’ll personally respond to each question we receive. And, every Friday, we’ll pick one question we’ve had more than the usual amount of fun answering and publish it right here on the What Do I Read Next? blog. (If your question becomes a blog post, your name will not be used.)

The Ravenous Readers welcome questions from all ages and every genre interest, and it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for ideas for yourself, your kids, or your book club. Drop us a line! Let us connect you with your next favorite book.

Dear Ravenous Readers,

The miles flew by on this summer’s family road trip because we kept the kids entertained with Harry Potter audio books. The fact is, I love J.K. Rowling as much as my children do, especially her descriptions of wizarding, her offbeat characters, and the way her contemporary kids live in a magical world, but now I’m looking for magic that’s a little more mature. What’s an adult with a yen for make-believe to do? Can you recommend some plots that are fantastic and grown up at the same time? Please, no sci-fi, vampire love stories or zombie apocalypses.


Some Enchanted Reading

Dear Enchanted,

You’re never too old to be bewitched by a book, and it absolutely sounds like it’s time for you explore some new fabulous fables.The dreamlike world of The Night Circus will captivate a literary fiction fan who hankers for the fantastic. Author Erin Morgenstern’s magical circus is as evanescent as a dream, a fabulously-imagined and lushly-described, otherworldly sort of place. Circus stars and star-crossed lovers Marco and Celia are unaware that they are just as ephemeral as their surroundings, pawns in a competition between magicians that will end when only one of the lovers is left standing. Morgenstern’s enchantments will beguile you, but it’s her plot twists that will keep you compulsively turning pages.

Enchanted characters that break the mold are at the heart of Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni. Chava, the Golem, is a woman constructed of clay to serve a master who leaves her adrift when he dies. Ahmad, the Jinni, is a man made of fire, released from the lamp that imprisoned him for hundreds of years but still bound to a fiendish master. She is from Eastern Europe, he from Syria, and they discover their mystical connection in the melting pot of New York’s Lower East Side at the turn of the last century. It’s the ultimate immigration story: two alien characters who look human on the surface, struggling to conceal their magical natures and trying to survive in a foreign world, dogged relentlessly by the threat of exposure.

Norwegian fairy tales meet The Internet for Dummies with disturbing results in Victor LaValle’s recent offering, The Changeling. New father Apollo Kagwa wants to do everything right to protect his baby son, but doesn’t realize that spreading his paternal joy around on Facebook is like inviting total strangers into the house—the results are disastrous. Maurice Sendak’s Outside Over There—a troubling picture book about goblins and kidnapping—is a recurring theme in this tech-savvy ‘once-upon-a-time,’ and LaValle gives new meaning to the concept of an evil troll. Where do we draw the line between magic and technology? I guarantee you’ll have taped over that little camera on your computer before you finish this modern-day take on fairy tales most Grimm.

--HW for the Ravenous Readers

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Any other ideas for Enchanted? Let us know in the comments below!