Celebrating a subgenre: Portal Fantasy

This is not a prompt from the Wyrd & Wonder challenge, but I do like to celebrate this subgenre. In a portal fantasy the real world is connected to one or more parallel worlds by some kind of portal. Most well-known are the rabbit hole that brings Alice in Wonderland and the wardrobe to Narnia. There are a lot more portal fantasy books, here are my five favourites:

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
This trilogy, starting with Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the US), is a childhood favourite I still love. It’s a magical, adventurous, coming-of-age story, but also has a lot of deeper layers. The story is full of portals. And while reading these books, I often wished I was able to go to other worlds as easy as Lyra and Will.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
Karou may seem just another art student in Prague. However, she hides a secret life where she is able to fulfil small wishes with her necklace, and runs mysterious errands for a monstrous creature from Elsewhere. Karou knows little about that other world, but she is about to find out. And this world with chimaeras and angels is fascinating.

Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Gray
I really enjoyed this adventurous and exciting love story. The Firebird is an invention from Marguerite’s parents. It can be used to jump to other dimensions. When Marguerite’s father is killed, Paul is the main suspect. With the Firebird he escapes to another dimension, but Marguerite follows him. Interesting enough, she meets alternate versions of people she knows, including Paul.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This novella is an interesting take on portal fantasy. Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is the place for children who came back from other worlds and no longer feel at home in our world. This book is the first part of a series alternating between our world and various other worlds.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
In this story there are multiple versions of London. Kell is one of the few who is able to travel between them. I enjoyed reading this book, but for some reason I never read the sequel. But I still hope to finish the trilogy at some point.


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