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10 Great Magical Books for Adults

We’re just as excited as the next guy over the news that J.K. Rowling is writing a novel for adults, and like everyone else, we’re dying to know all the details. Rowling, however, is keeping a tight lid, which leaves us to sit around and speculate, an activity, to be fair, that we rather enjoy. While we don’t know if her new novel is slated to include any magic at all, we like to imagine that it will — after all, she is rather practiced at writing it — but we hope it won’t be another straight-up fantasy novel. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of wonderful and magical books for adults to inspire the great Ms. Rowling (and tide us over!). Now, don’t get us wrong: while there are plenty of fantasy books for adults — Lev Grossman has made a recent splash with his magical college novel The Magicians and its recent sequel The Magician King, and we don’t think anyone would argue that George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is for children, here we’re focusing on non-genre books (that is, not strictly fantasy or sci-fi) that nevertheless manage to include some awe-inspiring magic. Click through to read our list of ten great works of literary fiction that just happen to have a little magic in them, and if we’ve left off your favorite fantastical book for grown-ups, do let us know in the comments!

The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

In this hilarious, lip-lickingly sinister novel, the Devil visits 1930’s Moscow and stirs up some serious mischief. Satan and his pals, including the gun-toting, back-talking giant cat known as Behemoth, harass the pretentious literary elite and the newly rich, seek to add a new member to their retinue, and cause general mayhem among the public. Though the magic in this novel is inherent in its premise, we are particularly fond of the magic show the Devil puts on at the Variety Theatre, which ends in women running nakedly through the street, their money evaporating, and Behemoth giggling.

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