In portal fantasy, the characters are typically normal people like you and I who have traveled through a doorway of some sort into a fantastic world. The doorway need not be an actual door: The portal could be a book, talisman, or magic mirror. These journeys aren’t always by choice, and in some portal fantasies, the quest to find a way to return to the “real” world may become the story’s primary narrative.
In putting together this list, we thought it best to distinguish portal fantasy from time travel fiction. Thus, books that feature portals and other plot devices that take characters into the past or future of our own world were not included. In addition, we tried to narrow in on stories about regular people who cross into fantastic worlds, so there are no novels here featuring magicians who travel through portals, our logic being that having magical powers makes the portal just part and parcel of a magical existence. That said, books about people who discover their powers after journeying to the new world still made the list.
We realize that these kinds of decisions sometimes default to a matter of personal opinion. If there’s a book you think should have been included, we encourage you to mention it in the comments section.