What to read after... His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Published on: 05 September 2022

Once you’ve been entranced by His Dark Materials, it can be tricky to find the next book that will give you a similar experience. There are many elements to love in this series, so here are some suggestions for equally enjoyable reads. We want to hear your ideas too!

For magnificent world-building...

If you love the varied worlds of His Dark Materials, Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series is as innovative, with an equally thrilling plot. Moving cities prey on each other in the vivid landscape of Reeve’s dystopian world, and Tom and Hester must fight for survival.

Meanwhile, Taran Marathu’s Summoner series, The Novice being the first, combines traditional fantasy elements, such as elves and dwarves, with the story of a boy with a demon that is both friend and weapon. Epic and gripping, this is a must-read.

And we can’t talk about world-building without mentioning Frances Hardinge. The worlds of Gullstruck Island and Unraveller, in particular, are unique, dangerous and incredibly compelling.

Finally, the London run by magicians in The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud is full of intrigue, murder and rebellion. But it’s the hilarious relationship between Nathaniel and Bartimaus the djinni that makes this series absolutely stand-out.

Illustration from Mortal Engines by Philip ReeveIllustration from Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

For close animal relationships...

There is nothing like having a part of your soul in animal form to share your adventures with, like Lyra and Pan. But actual animals can be steadfast, loyal companions too.

The white-nosed monkey Bartholomew in Everdark by Abi Elphinstone has been enchanted to speak, which means he can grumble about Smudge’s determination to go on a dangerous journey. But in times of need, he proves a true friend, and their adventures together are utterly thrilling. As a bonus, the book is printed in a dyslexia-friendly font.

If you enjoy reading about furry animals, Tess has a pet tarantula in The Star-spun Web by Sinead O’Hart. After a menacing stranger appears in her orphanage, they are propelled into an adventure through multiple worlds. How can the Starspinner – the device Tess has had since a baby – help her thwart a terrible plan?  

If you’re looking for a creature that’s more unpredictable, try a ferocious unicorn. Skandar has always wanted to be a unicorn rider: to hatch a unicorn, bond with it for life, and race for glory. When he hatches Scoundrel, Skandar discovers a secret that could blow apart his world forever. Read Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A. F. Steadman to be swept up in a rich and compelling fantasy.

Similarly wild and untameable, Torak’s companion in Wolf Brother and the follow-up books by Michelle Paver is a wolf cub. Together, they must battle to defeat a demon in the form of a bear. Breath-taking, original adventures combine with a wonderful bond between boy and wolf to ensure a truly captivating read.Illustration from Viper's Daughter by Michelle PaverIllustration from Viper's Daughter by Michelle Paver

For heart-pounding adventure...

Do you enjoy imaginative versions of history? Cogheart by Peter Bunzl is a dazzling Victorian steampunk adventure featuring airships, dastardly plots and a wily mechanical fox called Malkin. Hester and Robert must find her missing father – and foil the shadowy, silver-eyed men.

Had enough of cities? Journey to the frozen North with Mila and her sisters in The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millward Hargrave. Can they find their stolen brother? You will be spellbound by their whirlwind adventures.

For a story set in the real world, but with a dash of magic, be swept up by Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan. Asha and Jeevan cross the Himalayas to save Asha’s family, facing many trials – even staring down a snow leopard. Luckily, Asha’s nanijee’s spirit bird is watching over them.

And if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson is sure to. Linnet’s journey to bring the peoples of her island together is fraught with danger, and full of unexpected magic. Watch out for the alligator pools!

Illustration from Cogheart by Peter BunzlIllustration from Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Older readers looking for a similar read

For older readers, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is an extraordinary fantasy based in African tradition. Zelie and Princess Amari should be rivals, but they team up to bring magic back to the world. Expect fierce battles, tough decisions and explosions of amazing powers.

Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series, beginning with Shadow and Bone, is a compelling read set in a fantasy world rich with detail, where Alina Starkov learns to harness her unique powers. Dark, epic and gripping.

Finally, Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones is set in a world where girls with golden blood are near-immortals, but are hated and feared. Follow Deka’s journey as she wrestles with her gifts and her true identity. Warning: there is some brutal violence, but the sisterhood subplot makes the whole story shine. 

Join in!

Those are some of our ideas – but what about you?

Let us know by leaving your comments in the box below or tweeting us @BookTrust using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter

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