An Introduction to Portal Narratives

Portal narrative’s are stories that include two worlds and characters which travel between them. The primary world (which the characters at the outset of the story) is often our world or a realist/mundane world while the world they travel to is exotic, magical or fantastical in some way. The characters reach the second world be a variety of means (wardrobes, doorways, technology) it doesn’t have to be a literal portal. Portal narratives vary widely in content, setting, themes etc. They can be obvious to spot, like Narnia, or a bit more subtle, like The Hunger Games in which The Capital and the arena serve as secondary worlds dues to their stark contrast to District 12. Portal narratives frequently follow the heroes journey plot structure, concluding with a return to the primary world, although this rule can be broken, such as in Poison by Chris Wooding.

Below are 10 examples of portal narratives:

  1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol

    the caterpillar
    Artwork by Cory Godbey
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

    HP_pb_new_1
    Book Cover
  3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

    629a2ec171eb85a8aff419f844346aa2
    2009 Film poster
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

    e88987d26d477d740bea286747f3473d
    Artwork by Taryn Knight
  5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    miss-peregrines-home-peculiar_book-cover
  6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

    peter-pan
    Artwork by Karl James Mountford
  7. Shalott (series) by Felicity Pulman

    7558198_f1024
    Artwork by John William Waterhouse
  8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

    a-wrinkle-in-time
    Artwork by Erin Kubo
  9. The Wonderful  Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

    th_deadly-poppy-field
    Artwork by Patrick Awa
  10. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson

    thomas covenant
    Book Cover

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