When it comes to fiction I’m an enormous fan of just about anything magic related. I grew up reading a lot of high fantasy which typically takes place in a time period associated with the past, if not always our own world’s past. And like many lovers of fantasy I’ve often imagined how cool it would be if magic were around today – in the real world.
Unfortunately, that will never happen; life-spoiler: magic isn’t real. But urban fantasy is real and it explores the notion of epic fantasy style magic (and more) running wild in modern times. How cool is that!?
Answer: really cool.
9 Fun Urban Fantasy Books & Series
This short list of fun urban fantasy books and series blurs the lines a bit between a strict definition of urban fantasy and say – paranormal or supernatural fantasy. But what I think is most important when putting a list like this together is the quality of the books that make the cut.
I haven’t read all of the books in each of these series (not all of them are finished either) but enough to know that if you pick them up and get started, chances are you’re going to have a good time. So long as you are into urban fantasy. And if you’re not, why have you read this far?
Anyways, enjoy the reading list!
Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
2. The Dresden Files
For Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name.
3. The Magicians
Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren’t black and white, and power comes at a terrible price.
4. Felix Castor
Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. It may seem like a good ghostbuster can charge what he likes and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle–but there’s a risk: Sooner or later he’s going to take on a spirit that’s too strong for him. While trying to back out of this ill-conceived career, Castor accepts a seemingly simple ghost-hunting case at a museum in the shadowy heart of London–just to pay the bills, you understand. But what should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. That’s OK: Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It’s the living who piss him off…
5. The Iron Druid Chronicles
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
6. Rivers of London
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
7. The Mortal Instruments
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk.
Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .
Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.
8. Kassandra Lyall Preternatural Investigator
Preternatural Private Investigator and Paranormal Huntress Kassandra Lyall is used to working alone. Whenever there’s a murder or a mystery to solve that involves the preternatural – she’s the witch they call. When she’s called in to help the local cops work on a mysterious murder case, she finds herself needing all the help she can get. A bloodthirsty werewolf is loose in the city and on a killing spree.
As if her plate weren’t full enough, a strange she-wolf seeks Kassandra’s aid, asking her to help find her missing brother. Kassandra soon learns that the strange she-wolf serves two masters, and one of those masters has taken quite an interest in her.
In a world where vampires have charmed their way into modern society, where werewolves walk the streets with their beasts disguised by human skin, Kassandra Lyall has a secret of her own to protect.
She’s one of them.
9. American Gods
Since it was first published, American Gods became an instant classic. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.
What Did I Miss?
Urban fantasy is a hugely popular sub-genre and I know I’ve only scratched the surface with this list. What are some of your favorites in this category? What should have made my list? Let me know in the comments below.
Great list! Note: I went to find “Rivers of London”, and in the USA it was published as “Midnight Riot”. The Kindle version is only available under the latter title.
I’d also recommend “Three Parts Dead” by Max Gladstone. A great debut novel by a promising new author. Fantastic world building.
Just read the book description. Looks really cool! I’m definitely putting Three Parts Dead on my to-read list. Thanks for the recommendation!
Ah, thanks for bringing that up. I’ll insert a note above.
Anything by Charles De Lint! And I LOVE Little, Big by John Crowley! (:
If you are a fan of The Iron Druid Chronicles, then you will most likely enjoy The Baba Yaga series. I find them very similar and highly enjoyable.