Looking for a magical doorway? Check the library.
A lot of my favorite stories start out almost exactly the same. There’s this normal, mundane muggle-type person who unexpectedly finds herself, or himself, sucked into another world. A magical world. Usually there’s a quest involved, and only our hero or heroine can get the job done.
This never gets old for me. Whether it’s Harry getting that letter from Hogwarts or Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole or Wendy ending up in Neverland.
But all of the classic portal fantasies (you can read an even nerdier breakdown of the genre here) are for young adults.] If you love those books, but don’t feel like rereading them for the millionth time, here are some adult books that deliver that same brand of magic. (And by adult, I mean written for grownups, not for perverts.)
This is probably my favorite book ever, though I’m realizing that I haven’t read it in a while. It’s about a schlubby guy named Richard Mayhew living in London. He encounters a rough-looking girl who needs help — a girl named Door, how’s that for a magical portal? Helping Door drags Richard into London Below, a dark, magical city that shares space with the London that we all (and Richard) know. Of course he as adventures, really beautifully written adventures from the guy who created the Sandman and Coraline. If you ever go to London, read this first. It will freak your stuff out.
This book — the first in a series of five — strays from the formula a bit because Thursday already lives in a magical place, an alternate of version of England where time travel is possible and, most notably, everyone is obsessed with books. Thursday is sort of a librarian detective who makes her magical journey when she figures out how to read herself into books. The Thursday Next books are wondrous and funny, and they really reward readers. You don’t have to have read all the classics to follow along, but the more you’ve read, the funnier the jokes will be.
I just read this book for the first time a few weeks ago, and now I’m trying to get everyone to read it. The main character is a high school senior who’s obsessed with just the sort of books we’re talking about. A guy who feels cheated by life because he hasn’t stumbled onto his rabbit hole yet. The easiest way to explain The Magicians is to say that it’s like a morally ambiguous, more adult, grayer Harry Potter. Our protagonist gets to wizard school, but there’s no clear quest waiting for him, and he isn’t even clearly the hero.
If you know of any other great books like this, I’ll hope you’ll share them with me. And if you read The Magicians anytime soon, friend me on Facebook, so we can OMG about it …