Putting the Magic Back Into Young Adult Fantasy

As the market becomes saturated with young adult fantasy books in the “Harry Potter” mold, how long will it be before the genre loses its magic?

“If, like me, you’ve noticed that the spell being cast by the latest crop of young adult fantasy novels is becoming less potent, it seems a fair question to ask,” said R.J. Nimmo, a young adult novelist and expert on entertainment for children.

Nimmo doesn’t dispute the continued popularity of the sword-and-sorcery retreads out there.

“Nonetheless, assorted witches, djinn and goblins risk succumbing to that well-known pitfall of every successful celebrity from boy bands to Britney: overexposure,” he said.

Nimmo says the genre’s rise in popularity was initially due to J.K. Rowling’s wildly successful “Harry Potter” series and was further compounded by the success of the “Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman.

“They are all fantastic books – genuinely fun and original,” Nimmo said. “The problem is the market is becoming saturated. One more insipid ‘Harry Potter’ clone may be one too many.”

So how can parents find worthwhile reading choices that their kids – whose appetites for fantasy fiction show no sign of abating – will want to open and read?

“The trick is to find books for children and young adults where the fantasy genre elements are infused as part of historical-inspired stories, thus sharpening the emotional, intellectual and educational edge,” Nimmo said.

“The Ancient Egyptian Ennead,” Nimmo’s latest myth-inspired novel set in Egypt in the time of the pharaohs, promises to do just that.

“The magic in my books is something readers can identify with: the magic of learning about ancient civilizations, gods, myths and monsters,” he said. “It’s the way forward for an increasingly lackluster genre. I want to put the magic back in the hands of the reader.”

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