Top Ten Books for Young Readers That Feature a Passage Between Worlds

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World literature started with tales that would be now claimed by the fantasy genre. For a long time, fantastic tales were very much the mainstream of fiction, and only with the growth of the classic realistic novel, the fantastic, later on split into the fantasy and sci-fi, became "genre fiction". There is an incredible temptation - and appeal - in setting your story in a world that isn't - or doesn't have to - be constrained by laws of science and requirements of realism. And how much more appealing is it to believe that those other worlds are real - can be reached with a hand that extends just far enough, really here, behind the wall, inside a mirror, between the pages of a book?

Magda has compiled her top ten novels which feature a portal between worlds. In most of them, a character from our reality enters an alternative (and often, but not always, a magical) world, but in some, the journey is the other way, or both worlds are different from ours. Why not tell us about your favourites?


The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis

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The most wonderful fantasy series ever written for children. Don't miss it and don't let them miss it either. And don't forget to check the back of your wardrobe. Full review...

The Poison Garden by Sarah Singleton

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Wonderfully creepy supernatural mystery involving all sorts of difficult concepts. Younger readers will enjoy being stretched, whilst older ones will revel in the atmosphere of menace. Full review...

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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An utter tour de force. This scary Alice in Wonderland style novella has surrealism in spades, a perfect ear, a wonderful central character, plenty of shivers, and a detail to pore over again and again. Full review...

The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

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A wonderful alternate world historical fantasy, pitting myth and legend against science. Underlying environmental themes and well-drawn characters, including curry-loving mermaids, add depth to a satisfying an literary adventure. Michelle Lovric was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag. Full review...

Shadow Web by N M Browne

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A gripping adventure that is great fun to read but also gives pause for thought. Readers are asked to explore the real contemporary issues of war, terrorism and civil liberties, but also to appreciate the value of living in a relatively free society. Full review...

The Sorcerer's Mirror by Adrian Howard

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A girl encounters a parallel world, where - of course - she is the focus of a great world-saving plot. An old-fashioned, and undemanding but entertaining fantasy is the result. Full review...

The Bloodstone Bird by Inbali Iserles

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A very enjoyable teen fantasy read, with two children breaking into a parallel world in search of a mystical and world-changing bird. Both sides of the balance are full of detail and realistic touches. Full review...

The Truth Sayer by Sally Prue

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First in a promising series about a boy from another world gifted with huge powers. Great fun to read with lots of magic and comforting coming-of-age metaphors. Full review...

Charmed Life (The Chrestomanci) by Diana Wynne Jones

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Stylish but accessible, captivating and emotionally realistic story of magic in a (slightly) alternative world with a mildly Dickensian flavour but modern sensibilities. Better written than Harry Potter, but should appeal to most Potter fans and comes recommended for children and adults aged 7+. Full review...

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

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Beautifully imagined and realised, this novel of future regression is rich with strong characters, big issues and a compelling plot. It is a barnstorming piece of serious fantasy that doesn't put a foot wrong. Full review...

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