We have a special treat today! We are doing a blog swap with Kelly Byrd, author of the Far From Home middle-grade fantasy series. We’re pleased as punch to share part of this discussion of magic systems. To read the entire blog, visit Kelly Byrd.com.
Written By Candi R.
Magic systems are critical in fantasy books for any age group. Before you dive into writing your own fantasy stories, we’ll explain what magic systems are and why they work in books for young readers. Plus, we’ll give you five of our favorites.
Magic systems in middle-grade books are a wonderful way to spark imagination for readers. The Harry Potter series, The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Far From Home series are all examples of books with drastically different magic systems.
But what is a magic system in a book? It’s what magic in a story can do and can’t do; magic’s effects on the world; and what using magic means for characters. Considering all these things, it’s no wonder it’s called a system! It’s important to think beyond wand and spell magic, too. There are all kinds of elements to add to a system: Animal, technology-based, and nature magic are some great examples.
Magic in books for young readers can center around these and stray from the darker themes you might find in young adult fantasy. Let’s check out some middle-grade books that feature some of our favorite magic systems:
City of Lights by Kelly Byrd
We can’t go without mentioning the Everything! With this series you’ll follow along with a crew who become Oracles in training, honing the magic they discovered within themselves. It’s got magical realism, too. And let’s not forget THUNDERBIRDS. That new magic they’re perfecting must be used to save the new world they’ve found themselves in. There’s plenty of magic and self-discovery with this one.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
While this book is middle-grade, it’s a spookier one! You’ll find elements of horror and paranormal here. Coraline stumbles upon a hidden entryway in her new home and decides to explore it. What it leads to is a world much like the one she already knows, but slightly creepier. She gets a new mom, new toys, better food, and a seemingly better life. She can stay there… if she agrees to give up the world she knows on the other side of the door.
Root Magic by Eden Royce
This lovely tale embraces coming of age in a historical setting and features a black family in South Carolina. Though they’ve seen tragedy, Jezebel and Jay have persevered through it all and are now ready to learn the ways of root work to keep the tradition in their family. This book features healing magic, the magic of nature, and supernatural themes as well!
The Magnus Chase Series by Rick Riordan
This series features plenty of magical elements. Monsters and the powers and weapons to defeat them are heavily explored. Magnus Chase is based on Norse mythology, and the pivotal character is the son of a God himself. Diversity also gets a shoutout here!
The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton
This book features magic you might think is typical of witchcraft and wizardry. You’ll see things like elixirs and potions, but Ella is a first-of-its-kind conjuror. Being the first, sets her up to be somewhat of an outcast as it’s just magic her classmates don’t yet understand. The element of her conjuring adds an exciting twist and helps her solve the mystery of where her beloved teacher has disappeared to.
Magic in books for young readers opens up a whole new area of imagination. Not only will your magic system help you drive the story and set it apart from others, it will also have readers of all ages imagining what they would do with those skills. Don’t be afraid to write big, a little magic never hurt anybody!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create a magic system for my book?
Think about the elements you want to use to tell your story. What type of magic is it? What can your characters do with it? The sky’s the limit… or is it?
What is middle-grade magical realism?
Magical realism takes a real-world setting and adds a sense of wonder to it. Take a setting young readers know well, like school, and add the magic. Wow, my pencil is moving on its own!
Thanks to Longbird Publishing, Kelly Byrd, and Candi R. for sharing with us! Read more of their blogs at KellyByrd.com.
About the author: Candi is an experienced marketing specialist who loves all things K-Pop, Kylo Ren, and WWE. She writes about middle-grade books for Longbird Publishing with an undeniable passion for words.