Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme/feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.
Me and Isa thought it’d be fun to do some memes as well as book reviews, so I’m starting with Top Ten Tuesday because I love lists. The theme is “Books in X Genre” and I immediately thought magical boarding school because Isa has been reading The Worst Witch, but that proved to be more difficult than I thought, so I’m doing this instead.
Top Five All Time Favorite Books in the Magical School Genre
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Obviously! This series was a huge part of my childhood and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was a big reason why I was so fascinated with the magical world. Harry can complain all he want about his homework, I’d take Potions and Transfiguration any day over English and Biology.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
This book is not all set in a school, but there’s a large bit in the middle where Ged (or Sparrowhawk as he’s called) goes to study at a magical school on an island. I remember that to enter and exit the school the students had to answer a riddle from the gatekeeper, and among other things Ged studies the true name of things because if you speak something’s true name that thing will have to obey you.
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Sophie Mercer gets shipped off to a reform school for troublemaker witches, faeries and shapeshifter. There’s a lot of enjoyable boarding school elements here, like the rivality between cliques, Sophie becoming BFFs with her roommate, and the evil teacher giving her detention. The other books are set outside the school for the most part, which was kind of a pity.
Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Several of the Discworld books feature the Unseen University, a college for wizards. It’s a bit different from the other entries in this list because the students are college age rather than teens, and also the stories usually revolve around the teaching staff. Also, the Unseen University usually has no lessons or lectures because all wizards are hopelessly lazy, or stupid, or trying to save the world from some terrible event that they have usually caused in the first place.
Song Quest by Katherine Roberts
I haven’t reread this one in forever so maybe it sucks and twelve year old me had terrible taste, but I remember being fascinated by the magic world in this story. The protagonist is a novice Singer on an island and she’s studying the five Songs of Power. For example there’s on song that makes people calm, one song that makes people happy… one song that kills people… So yeah, when I was little I wanted to learn how to kill people with my voice.
Top Five All Time Favorite Books in the Boarding School Genre
The Adventures of Endill Swift by Stuart McDonald
Before Harry Potter, this was THE book about a kid going to a strange boarding school. Epitaph school is on an island, guarded by a man-eating eel, and the corridors are so full of twists and turns that students can get lost for years. The professors are all weirdos and the Matron tours the corridors on a motorbike. Endill ends up in the Nettles dormitory and becomes friends with a kid named Mould, and together they plan to escape the school by building a giant catapult.
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
In this lesser-known sequel to Little Women, Jo and her husband open a school called Plumfield, which really is more like a big home than a school. They have a dozen or so students and the book follows their adventures. It’s a bit moralistic but I would have given anything to go to a tiny, fairytale-like school like Plumfield where everyone is friends with each other.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I think the version I read was Sara Crewe, which is the novella that later became A Little Princess. Sara starts off as a boarder at Miss Minchin’s school, but her father dies and she becomes penniless, so the evil Miss Minchin makes her work as a maid and live in the attic.
Here for a Year? Forget It! by Yvonne Coppard
A parody of the boarding school genre. The protagonist’s parents become billionaires by winning the lottery and send her to a super-exclusive school for filthy rich people. Everyone’s a bit crazy (or a lot crazy) but since their parents are rich the staff treats it as harmless eccentricities. I remember there was a lot of fuss over a game of lacrosse.
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
For some reason, it is decided that the prince of some kingdom must choose his bride among the girls of one small mountain village. So they create an academy for all the girls, to teach them how not to be a peasant. The magic of the internet has just told me that there’s a sequel so excuse me but I have to check it out now, even though alas I don’t think it’ll feature boarding schools.
Are there other books about a magical school or boarding school that you love?