The Fiction Fox
Hogwarts Book Recommendations: Slytherin
In honour of the 2020 Magical Readathon, I’m doing something many a book-blogger have done before me: recommending books based on your Hogwarts house. I know it’s not the most original idea, but I’ve always liked these kind of ideas, and I love hearing peoples rationalisations for placing a certain book in a certain place. This year, I’ll be doing my own version, in which I recommend 10 books that I feel fit a certain house well, including my reasons for that, ánd the 2020 O.W.L. prompts they will fulfil. Each list will be as varied as possible: including different genre’s and age demographics, and I will try to match as many O.W.L. prompts as I can for those of you looking for last-minute recommendations.
Sidenote: as the prompts for Astronomy (read the majority of this book at night) and Divinations (pick a book using a random generator) can work for any of these, I won’t be mentioning them.
Slytherin values ambition, cunning, leadership and resourcefulness. When I think about Slytherin-books, I think of dark worlds, hight stake power battles and protagonists that may be okay with pushing the boundaries of morality to reach their end goal. Many a dark fantasy has these traits and some authors even seem to make it their trademark. Like with my Gryffindor recommendations, I tried to make this list a bit more varied, including books from different genres as well as different levels of fame.
What it’s about: A female assassins apprentice with the power of bending shadows, out on a quest for revenge against the ones who destroyed her family.
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Care of Magical Creatures, Charms
Why Slytherin? I don’t think this needs too much explanation: many of you will be familiar with Mia and her limitless ambition. The world of The Nevernight Chronicals is brutal and as a result you’ll be hard pressed to find a cast filled with more Slytherins than the one in this book.
2. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
What it’s about: A ragtag group of outcasts, each blessed with their own set of unique skills, coming together to pull of the heist of a lifetime, against the backdrop of a dark Amsterdam inspired city.
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Care of Magical Creatures, History of Magic
Why Slytherin? This book, again, needs little introduction in the book-community, nor will it need much explaining as to why it landed in the Slytherin House. Kaz and his crew may not all be Slytherins at heart, but the cruel world they live in has brought out their serpentine trades for better or worse. This story however is also a perfect example of the complexity of Slytherins and the way that they are more than just their driven ambition. I fell in love with every single cast-member in this story and they will probably remain among my favourite characters of all time.
3. Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
What it’s about: A female freshman student with a troubled past gets wrapped up in the web of mystery, paranoia, secret societies, dark politics an arcane arts at Yale University.
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Possibly Arithmancy or Astronomy, but honestly this is the worst fit for the challenges I have. I just couldn’t leave it off this list; perhaps the cover will help you forgive me even more…?
Why Slytherin? Leigh Bardugo makes a second appearance on this list with her trademark dark-but-accessible-fantasies, this time with her first adult novel. Again: the tone of her worlds, combined with her ambitious and cunning protagonists make Leigh Bardugo the perfect Slytherin-author.
4. The Magicians – Lev Grossman
What it’s about: A bored, recently graduated teen enrols in an exclusive and highly secretive college of magic in upstate New York. What follows is basically what would really happen if you gave magical abilities to a bunch of irresponsible young adults…
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Herbology
Why Slytherin? This book is basically a reimagining of adult Harry Potter if all characters were Slytherins…
5. Deeplight – Frances Hardinge
What it’s about: The people of the Myriad have lived for generations in fear of the oceans, and their Gods living within them. Now the Gods are dead, and all that’s left of them is their parts. When 15-year-old Hark stumbles upon the highly valued heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt.
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Ancient runes, Care of Magical Creatures, Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Why Slytherin? This story is all about the addictive nature of power, and the way it can corrupt even the best of man if you’re not careful. A valuable cautionary tale for the sometimes too ambitious Slytherins.
6. An Unkindness of Magicians – Kat Howard
What it’s about: In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades. When she enters a secret competition, a series matches to the death, between wizarding Houses, she gets a taste of the power she always yearned for. Now it’s up to her to decide whether to use that power to build or to destroy.
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Charms, History of Magic.
Why Slytherin? The entire plot of An Unkindness of Magicians hinges on a battle for power, and like a true Slytherin, Sydney will halt at nothing to obtain it. The characters motives vary from morally grey to jetblack, and it’s a great journey to see our (anti-)heroine balance between these extremes.
7. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
What it’s about: The story of a tightly knit group of six elitist classic students at Hampton College, and how a spiralling power dynamic leads will lead to the doom of one (or perhaps all) of them. Alternatively: if you’ve already read The Secret History and want more like it, I highly recommend If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio which follows a similar structure based around 6 young elitist Shakespeare actors.
Matching O.W.L. prompts Arithmancy (although it’s one of favourite genres, I think I’m in the minority among my followers with literary fiction), Charms.
Why Slytherin? I debated between putting these books in the Slytherin or Ravenclaw house, as both show the darker qualities of their respective houses. Yet ultimately it’s the ambition, the cunning and the will to be cut-throat and go to any lengths to achieve your goals that make these characters true Slytherins.
8. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
What it’s about: Set in a fantasy world, ravaged by regular natural disasters of Apocalyptic force, Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, and with war looming in the background, every step along the way is a battle. But Essun doesn’t care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Defence Against the Dark Arts (mind you: only parts of this novel take place at a coastal setting!)
Why Slytherin? Essun is a true Slytherin. On the surface she appears callus and fuelled by vengeance and rage, but once you get to know her you see the beautiful soft woman, who just wants to look out for the ones she loves underneath.
9. East of Eden – John Steinback
What it’s about: A classic that weaves together the struggles of two families in a highly ambitious retelling of Cain and Able and a few other Biblical Myths.
b. Matching O.W.L. prompts: Arithmancy, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Muggle Studies
c. Why Slytherin? Major themes of this novel are the struggle for power, validation and greatness, and the ultimate self-destruction that can lead to if one isn’t careful. Again: this one might be a good cautionary tale for the ambitious Slytherin.
10. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck – Mark Manson
What it’s about: “In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.”
Matching O.W.L. prompts: Arithmancy, Muggle Studies
Why Slytherin? One of a Slytherins character strengths is not caring too deeply what others think about you or your methods, as long as you are comfortable with yourself. This book may help you on your way a bit. Also: Mark Mansons cynical brand of humour might just put a smile on your face along the way.
As a small bonus entry, I wanted to give a shout out to one of the best ARCs I read this year. I wasn’t able to feature this as a full entry on the list, as it hasn’t officially released yet, but this Last Memoria https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48644511-last-memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw is one of those dark fantasy novels that just screamed Slytherin to me in the best ways possible. I hope you enjoyed todays list, and I hope to see you all back tomorrow for the third entry in this series. Tomorrows is for my fellow Ravenclaws!