With all the hooha about the new Harry Potter book, I thought it might not go astray to give Philip Pullman a bit of a namecheck. If you've not read the His Dark Materials trilogy, then I very strongly recommend that you do so; they're geared somewhat to the sort of "young adult" audience Rowling is targeting, but from what I've been able to gather of the stories of the Potter books (which I only know through the film versions, I must admit), Pullman's books have somewhat more to commend them to the older adult reader. I'd heard of the books a year or two ago, but wasn't until I was working at my local library on my TAFE placement that I discovered they actually had them, so I got them out. read them in fairly short order, and have decided these are actually three of the best fiction books I've ever read by anyone (and I am not given to making statements like that lightly). You can read about them on the Net (e.g. this site for the BBC radio adaptation, but I personally had a lot more fun with them by not knowing too much about them, so the increasingly grand plot twists are rather more effective. Oh, and if you're one of those people who thinks the Potter books are Satanic (such as this saddo), then Pullman's books will give you fits.
"A sinister cabal of superior writers."