Is Samantha Shannon the Next J.K. Rowling?


I’m sorry to be so blunt about it, but in my opinion there is no “next J.K. Rowling.” I understand the comparison. Shannon is British. At age 21 (gasp!) she just sold her 480-page speculative novel, The Bone Season, to Bloomsbury for over £100,000. The Bone Season is the first in a seven book series. While I am excited to read the book and wish Shannon nothing but success, I doubt The Bone Season will become the elusive next Harry Potter.


Every since Harry Potter publishers, movie producers, and fans have longed for “the next Harry Potter”. Lots of books and movie adaptations have been called “the next Harry Potter”: Artemis Fowl, The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, Maze Runner. I could go on and on. In fact, my first ever post for Hardcovers and Heroines was about how people called The Night Circus “the next Harry Potter”.

What do these books all have in common? None of them became the next Harry Potter. This doesn’t mean they weren’t wildly successful, because they were. But Harry Potter was a phenomenon. When J.K. Rowling wrote it her agent told her there was no money in publishing children’s books – it went on to become the bestselling book in history and a franchise Wikipedia estimates as worth fifteen billion dollars. It created a massive fandom (largely defined by the new Internet culture) and an even bigger readership that included people of all ages, genders, nationalities, religions, etc. What other books are featured in their own theme park?

My friend, Celeste, and I waiting for our copies of book seven.
My friend, Celeste, and I waiting for our copies of book seven.

I understand the desire to recreate the Harry Potter experience. I love the books, and some of my best memories of being a teenager are the book release parties, the midnight showings of the movies, reading the books in one day so I could talk about them with my friends.

I have also loved many of the books compared with HP, but the next phenomenon in readings isn’t going to be something similar to Harry Potter. It’s going to be books that are aps without words, stories completely told through tweets, or something equally unimaginable right now that will change the book industry and pop culture dramatically. In fact, if anything published in the last ten years deserves the title of next Harry Potter, it’s E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey – a self published novel stemming from fan fiction that topped bestseller lists, changed the publishing industry, and brought BSDM and erotic fiction into the mainstream.

Do you think there has been a next Harry Potter? If so, what is it? Are you planning on reading The Bone Season? Let me know in the comments!

Also if you want to read more about Samantha Shannon click here.

9 thoughts on “Is Samantha Shannon the Next J.K. Rowling?

  1. When I first heard about The Bone Season in Entertainment Weekly, I was intrigued, but skeptical. They also compared her to J. K., but then later gave her book a B rating. I still want to read it, but I don’t have “Harry Potter”-sized expectations.

  2. This is a great post and I couldn’t have said it better. I was just listening to Oliver Boyd and The Rememberalls’ “End of an Era” song about Harry Potter. And it really was! It was an era. No amount of imitation or planning or marketing studies can anticipate the rise of something unprecedented. I love HP and hope with all my heart to one day experience another world or movement just as special in its own way, but who knows when or if that will happen. I’m reading the Hunger Games now and they’re great books, easy reads, and full of memorable characters, etc. I think we’re all on the lookout for the next awesome thing, but nothing has really come close for me. I never even heard of this Bone Season book :/ but if it’s as anticipated as it is, I’ll be happy to check it out. Loved this post 🙂 ps awesome pic! XD

    1. Yeah, I think the Hunger Games comes closest to me … but in the end (warning bad metaphor ahead) it’s kind of like comparing nonfat yogurt with your favorite ice cream. It wasn’t just the books, it was the atmosphere and community the books created. I am excited to read The Bone Season and see how it is. If it got that big of an advance, the publishers must be pretty confident readers will enjoy it and want to continue with the series.

  3. I rather thought the tabloids simply meant the same in terms of sales to children. It would be impossible to replicate the renewed enthusiasm for reading JK Rowling’s works gave to children (and adults!).

    It seems every new YA novel these days is dystopian-based. To me it’s not original enough as a premise to be a breakout novel, although it would likely make money. And I think too, that’s another place where JK Rowling is unique. She chose a theme that wasn’t popular in children’s books of her time — witchcraft.

    That said, publishers don’t invest $150K advances and 7 book deals every day. I shall be interested to see how this new series does. I do think someday there will be another “JK Rowling” culture-shifting icon. But it won’t happen for 100 years. Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Rowling, . . . Yes, I think it will be 100 years at least . . . .

    Great post!

    1. Thanks for brining Shannon to my attention, Indra. Totally agree that there is probably something special about the book to get that kind of advance/deal. Who knows who the next culture shifting icon will be?

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