What to Read After... The Chronicles of Narnia
Published on: 09 September 2018 Author: Anna McKerrow
Is your child hooked on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia? Have they devoured them multiple times? Here are some ideas about where they could turn next...
Cosy badger burrows, epic battles, lashings of tea and cake and legions of mythical creatures - and with wartime England grumbling in the background - the Chronicles of Narnia series is a huge part of British cultural heritage.
To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures. But what can fans who have devoured the books read next? Which stories will they love in the same way? We have some suggestions...
If you're looking for more fantasy...
There are so many threads in the richly woven, comforting (and thrilling) quilt of wonderment that is Narnia that it provides a number of possible themes to follow up. There are, of course a selection of other general well-known classic fantasy reads that Narnia fans will love: The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman and the Earthsea books by Ursula Le Guin.
Over on Twitter, @MagdaRaysdottir also suggested Le Guin's other books Powers and Voices and added: 'If you are a bit older and like Le Guin's anthropological world view, try Reindeer Moon by Marshall Thomas. She lived with Bushmen as a child, another daughter of an anthropologist.'
A brand new homage to Narnia
Perhaps top of the list for those looking for an homage to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is Piers Torday's sensitive and beautiful The Lost Magician, which takes the theme of four brothers and sisters finding themselves taken to a large country house and stumbling upon the fantasy story-world of Folio.
Torday's take on Narnia is more of a meta-story about libraries, reading, fact and fiction, retaining the classic English feel of the original series and set during World War Two, but with subtle modern sensibilities.
Meanwhile, @AngelosantoK suggested Piers' Wild trilogy, saying it can help to develop 'political awareness and a sense of justice' in young readers, and @thatboycanteach proposed There May Be a Castle: 'I know it's not his official inspired-by-Narnia [book] but it surely is.'
For readers who want more witches
If Narnia readers are left with a yearning for more witches, they could try Robin Jarvis's atmospheric and spooky fantasy classic The Whitby Witches or James Nicol's Apprentice Witch series, which has all of the cosiness of Narnia-esque tea and cake in front of roaring fires juxtaposed with magical derring-do.
For those who enjoy the snow
For those seeking a snowy fantasy setting, Alex Bell's The Polar Bear Explorer's Club provides the strong female lead that Narnia's Lucy might have become in other circumstances, and a journey to the mysterious Icelands for Stella Snowflake Pearl and her gang of unlikely adventurers.
Alternatively, Ruth Lauren's addictive Prisoner of Ice and Snow tells the tale of a crime mystery in an icy fantasy world that should delight older readers.
For readers ready to explore a new world
For keen readers looking for new worlds to immerse themselves in, Twelve Nights by debut novelist Andrew Zurcher tells the fantasy-rich tale of Kay and the mysterious Removers who have stolen her father away as if he never existed.
Fantasy lovers will also adore the epic, intelligent and classic fantasy series Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas (and its sequel, The Chosen Ones) wherein Effie vows to protect her grandfather's magical books, and, in doing so, journeys through a book into the magical Otherworld.
For those who like Narnia's folklore
Children drawn to the folkloric elements of C.S. Lewis's work will enjoy The Wild Folk by Sylvia Lindsteadt, a magical quest in which Tin and Comfrey complete seemingly impossible challenges set by the mystical Wild Folk to find the one who holds the secret to saving their world.
Alternatively, The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson is a magical retelling of the Baba Yaga myth that has an underlying spiritual message about this life and the next - similar to Narnia - along with a cracking fantasy setting.
As always, when we asked you for some ideas about What to Read After The Chronicles of Narnia, you came up with some fantastic ideas! Below are just some of your brilliant suggestions...
The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud
This series of books came highly recommended by @BadnessJonathan, who told us it is 'the best young adult fantasy series' he's read since Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (which, by the way, was also recommended by lots of you!) Described by Jonathan as 'utterly humane' and 'hilarious', there are four books to enjoy and a graphic novel, so get reading - start with book number one, The Amulet of Samarkand.
Abi Elphinstone's books
First up to suggest Abi Elphinstone's brilliant stories was @Alibrarylady, who suggested that Moll and Gryff in the Dreamsnatcher trilogy reminded her of Lucy and Aslan. She added: 'For snow and an ice queen, Sky Song would be great.' @KCrommie agreed on that front - 'Erkenwald reminded me of Narnia' - and also suggested reading Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend.
The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix
This one came highly recommended by @writestorybooks, who said: 'It may not have an appearance from Father Christmas or fauns, but it is the pinnacle of world-building and features the only feline character that could ever give Aslan a run for his money.' Big claims indeed!
J. R. R. Tolkien
Heaps of you - including @evidencebase, @DavidKenvyn and @Webwight - suggested Tolkein's classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We'll leave it up to @HardejJoanna to explain why: 'The Lord of the Rings has similar themes of temptation, redemption and self-sacrifice, but depicted in a more grown-up way and on a more epic scale.'
Go back to where it all began...
We loved the suggestion from @MerrynGlover, who suggested heading right back to where these stories all began: 'Find well-written versions of the great mythologies and discover the primal, archetypal stories that underpin Narnia and so much great children's literature.' To get started, you could try Kevin Crossley-Holland and Jeffrey Alan Love's collection of Norse myth, or check out this booklist of Celtic legends.
- @AJ_Beaumont proposed the 'wonderful' Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell, while @joboyley recommended Wildwood by Colin Meloy: 'A magical forest on the outskirts of Portland, populated by talking animals. Love this series.'
- @kathblessan told us about the Duncton Wood books by William Horwood ('powerful stories read when I was a teen'), while @elliec0pter raved about the 'amazing' Doomspell books by Cliff McNish.
- @RuthAhmedzai suggested Yulia Yakovleva's The Raven's Children - one of our In Other Words 2017 titles, which she has just translated! It's a good recommendation though; as Ruth says, it involves 'talking animals, a creepy fantasy world and a significant wardrobe'.
- For more translated fiction, try The Song of Seven by Tonke Dragt, translated by Laura Watkinson. @DerbyshireLibs explained: 'It has a fantastic old-school fantasy feel to it - really enjoyed that one and it gave me Narnia-nostalgia!'
- @HappySadCross also spoke from experience when they told us they read Jenny Nimmo's Snow Spider trilogy straight after Narnia: 'It's darker and has more adult themes.'
- Elsewhere, Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series got the nod from @BMS_RIC, @WstonesClifton plumped for The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and @LisaTheresa suggested Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.
- Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments was suggested by @youinadaydream, @13JAMartin suggested Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, and both @maclark35 and her daughter were big fans of Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.
Thank you so much again for all of your brilliant ideas! While we go and add to our reading list, do keep swapping ideas on Twitter using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter or in the comments below.