Michelle Harrison's Top Five Magical Worlds

Michelle Harrison's Top Five Magical Worlds

1. Hogwarts (from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)
Perhaps an obvious choice, but J.K. Rowling's imagination captivated me from start to finish. As with many of my favourite fantasy stories, it begins in the "real" world where we meet poor Harry in his cupboard under the stairs, living a thoroughly miserable existence with the Dursleys. Then on one magical night everything changes when he learns he's a wizard. From boarding the Hogwarts Express on Platform nine and three quarters to buying his wand in Diagon Alley, there's magic at every turn of the page. Photographs and paintings move as though living, learning to fly a broomstick is a school lesson, and rooms mysteriously appear and vanish at will. Brilliant.

2. Scar Fell House (from Bad Blood by Rhiannon Lassiter)
Though this tale of four step-siblings is based in the Lake District rather than another world, the alternate reality presented is as clever as it is eerie. In the house, the teenagers find a room of books with crossed out words, and a box of dolls locked away. Dolls that somehow move when no one is watching. Years ago, a game was played in the house which allows imaginings to become reality... for a terrible price. Be warned: this one is horror!

3. Tickey End/Spinney Wicket (from The Thirteen Treasures/One Wish ~Michelle Harrison)
It would be remiss not to mention the magical world I've spent the most time in, which is the one I created. Once again, my stories are based in the world as we know it, but with fantastical elements. Tanya knows that fairies exist because she has the ability to see them. Elvesden Manor (her grandmother's house) is full of them (as well as a secret passage or two) and is only a stone's throw from Hangman's Wood, a gateway to the fairy realm. Similarly, the seaside town of Spinney Wicket holds a portal to the Inbetween, where ghosts and witches exist in a time vacuum, as well as the mischievous wishing tree – able to grant your heart's desire. Many of the ideas and places in my books are based on real locations and seasoned with a good dollop of wish fulfilment.

4. Neverland (from Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie)
With its location being "second star to the right, and straight on till morning", Neverland is certainly a magical place. However, for me it is the characters that make it one of the most memorable fictional worlds. The selfish and stubborn Peter, evil pirate Captain Hook, and of course, the bad-tempered and jealous fairy Tinkerbell each bring their own charm, but it is actually the ticking crocodile that stands out as the most brilliant and bonkers addition to the cast.

5. The Nine Kingdoms (from The 10th Kingdom by Kathryn Wesley)
I'm being a bit naughty here, as technically the book was written after the TV series, but I absolutely loved this world of the Nine Kingdoms, accessed through magic mirrors and inhabited by fairy tale characters such as Snow White. An evil queen escapes from the Fourth Kingdom's prison and plans to overthrow them all with the help of a turncoat wolf and three hilariously stupid trolls with shoe fetishes. When a human girl, Virginia, inadvertently stumbles through one of the mirrors from the previously unknown Tenth Kingdom (New York) a bizarre adventure ensues. Fans of "Once Upon a Time" may well enjoy this.