In the description for each individual series I will explain how exactly it is related to the Harry Potter books. I'm also putting the synopsis and cover of the first book in the description, so you can get a sense for the series' flavor.
1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Synopsis of The Lightning Thief:
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
I know, I know. You've already heard of these, touted as the "next Harry Potters." Well you know what? They are not the next Harry Potters. Nothing, ever, can replace Harry's position in the book world and in our hearts. However, the books are still good in their own right, apart from Harry's shadow. If you love Harry Potter for its magic, adventure, world-building and humor, then this is the series for you. Be warned, though, it's geared for a younger audience than the later Potter books are. You may not find it as funny as all the tweens do.
2. Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
Synopsis of Magyk:
The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?
The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.
This is one of my personal favorites as a Harry Potter substitute. Why, you ask? Because it wasn't geared to fill the demand raised by the Harry Potter books! It is set in a completely different universe from ours (or a thousand years in the future - same difference, right?), in a world with royalty and occupational wizards. I can't praise this humorous, exciting and heart-warming series enough, and I highly reccomend it to anyone who loved the relationships in the Harry Potter books - and maybe secretly wished there was a whole series written just about the Weasleys.
3. Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher
Synopsis of Knightley Academy:
Henry Grim is a servant boy at the Midsummer School—until he passes the elite Knightley Academy exam and suddenly finds himself one of the first commoners at the Academy, studying alongside the cleverest and bravest—and most arrogant—young aristocrats in the country. They thwart Henry’s efforts to become a full-fledged Knight of the Realm, but he and two commoner classmates are determined to succeed. In the process, the boys uncover a conspiracy that violates the Hundred Years’ Peace treaty—and could lead to war! Can Henry manage to save his school and country from their enemies—and continue to study at the Academy?
This is a two-book series that has basically fallen to the way-side. I have my serious doubts whether the author will ever finish the series, but if she did I'd be first in line to buy the third book! This is a work of love toward the Harry Potter books, full of sly references to the Potter universe even as it tells its own absorbing tale of the penniless orphan Henry who gains admittance into the posh private boarding school Knightley Academy. There's no magic but lots of fun in this awesome series that I always recommend to people who are interested in reading the Harry Potter books, but don't like the magic in the originals.
4. The Prydain Chronicles Alexander Lloyd
Synopsis of The Book of Three:
Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn't exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kingdom of Prydain safe from them. But who would find her first?
These are classics, so I'm not going to say too much about them. Let's just say that they're full of enough humor, friendship, and love that fans of these aspects in Harry Potter are going to love these books.
Bonus: if you like the Lord of the Rings books, you'll probably like these. The authors were friends in real life, and there are a lot of similarities between the two series.
5. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Synopsis of Dealing With Dragons:
Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart - and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon - and finds the family and excitement she's been looking for.
These are some really fun books that play on a lot of fairy tale tropes. They're similar to Harry Potter in that they take traditional rules of magic and stand them on their head. Also, they're really funny but still heartwarming at the same time. I read them for the first time as little girl, probably before I even read Harry Potter, and loved them so much. Then, being a little girl, I completely forgot the title and couldn't find them again for like five years. When I re-read the books for the first time two years ago, I still loved them just as much as I did as a little girl. They've got that same ageless appeal that the Potter books do.
6. The Dragon Slippers trilogy by Jessica Day George
Synopsis of Dragon Slippers:
Many stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories.
True, when Creel's aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it's Creel who talks her way out of the dragon's clutches. And it's Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king's city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession.
But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom… or destroy it.
So, these are on my list of all-time favorite books. On the surface they don't seem to have much in common with Harry Potter besides the presence of dragons - and where Harry Potter's dragons are basically just really scary wild beasts that breathe fire, these dragons are thinking, speaking creatures who actually make friends with the main character Creel. But this is a great trilogy full of humor and heart where the basic glue that holds everything together is friendship. Friendship and love - sound familiar?
7. Story Thieves by James Riley
Synopsis of Story Thieves:
Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.
But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…
…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.
So this is a very new series, with only one book out. My review will be posted on Friday, but here's the short version: I basically decided the jury's still out until the later books come out and I see how the series progresses. However, the reason I would reccomend this just-started series to fans of Harry Potter is that it incorporates quite a bit of the plot of the high-fantasy series Kiel Gnomenfoot. Kiel himself is actually sucked into the "real world" (their world), and we learn most of the story of the seven-series fake story. While the basic facts aren't really that similar, a lot of the themes of the Kiel books are so similar to the Harry Potter books that it's just all-around awesome to read about them.
8. The Ember books by Jeanne DuPrau
Synopsis of The City of Ember:
Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness….
But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?
These are for a younger age group, but I love them a lot. I think they're a great read for people who love Harry Potter for the way it changed the way they look at the world. In Harry Potter it's Mr. Weasley who best shows the shift in outlook the books provide: as a wizard, he sees the Muggle world from an entirely different light. And those of us who read the books also begin to see our world in a different light, at least while we're hanging out in the wizarding world. How on Earth can those poor Muggles cope with wearing tight clothing that actually goes between their legs?! In the same way, the books of Ember give us a different perspective on today's world. Because the people of Ember have never been above ground they are completely ignorant about so many things that we just take for granted. So one series looks at our world from the point of view of an outside culture, and the other looks at it by looking at the ruins we left behind.
Okay, there we go. Have you read any of these, and do you agree with my reccomendation? Are there any books you would add to my list?