The best fiction books set in underground worlds

Who am I?

I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I can remember, but more formally for over a decade. I have published a variety of works from short-story collections to children’s books, and my latest is a science-fiction trilogy set in an underground world. I’m passionate about imagination and creativity, and love exploring different kinds of books and different ways of expressing similar ideas.


I wrote...

Lying Beneath

By Kevin Moran,

Book cover of Lying Beneath

What is my book about?

Underneath the city lies an advanced society, and its dark secrets could bury her alive. Ayla worries she’ll be stuck waitressing for pennies until she dies. She longs for adventure, for something to save her from the paycheck-to-paycheck life she lives with her long-time boyfriend, Derek, who plays it safe and only half-tolerates her thirst for exploration. With her trusty camera in tow, she explores abandoned buildings, searching for something—anything—interesting.

One night, she finds a mysterious trapdoor in an old warehouse which leads to a futuristic society beneath her feet. This is the adventure she’s been looking for, but the people underground don’t appreciate her intrusion and she quickly finds herself locked up and questioned. They think she’s a spy, their questions are getting more intrusive, and Derek has no idea where she is. Ayla must find a way out of this underground world that’s not the adventure she thought she wanted, before it’s too late...

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Wool

Kevin Moran Why did I love this book?

Wool is so much more than an author writing and releasing a book. I won’t delve into the full background, but it was initially released as a self-published short story, gained popularity, and grew from there into a great series. The worldbuilding is fantastic which lets readers get lost in the world, where details and characters are fleshed out. There’s enough mystery and intrigue to keep you coming back for more. Overall, an excellent read.

By Hugh Howey,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Wool as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SOON TO BE A MAJOR APPLE TV SERIES
__________________________
'Thrilling, thought-provoking and memorable ... one of dystopian fiction's masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World.' DAILY EXPRESS

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others…


Book cover of The City of Ember

Kevin Moran Why did I love this book?

This book often gets overlooked because of its “juvenile” stigma, however, there’s much more than the cover! The characters are on the younger side, but the worldbuilding is great through their eyes. Readers get a good feel for how the underground society works and provides a good glimpse into some things we take for granted. While later books in the series get further away from the underground world, it’s all worth a read.

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The City of Ember as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Ember is the only light in a dark world. But when its lamps begin to flicker, two friends must race to escape the dark. This highly acclaimed adventure series is a modern-day classic-with over 4 MILLION copies sold!

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to dim. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she's sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now, she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to…


Book cover of Neverwhere

Kevin Moran Why did I love this book?

This book allows readers to strongly visualize Neil’s fantasy world and get lost in it. The descriptions are enough to tantalize and run with, and the world that’s built through Neil’s classic prose comes alive on each page. Even if you’re not a fan of the fantasy genre, there’s enough grounded in aspects of reality that make it worth a look.

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Neverwhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE EXTRAORDINARY FIRST NOVEL BY THE MASTER OF STORYTELLING

'Prose that dances and dazzles . . . Gaiman describes the indescribable' SUSANNA CLARKE

'It's virtually impossible to read more than ten words by Neil Gaiman and not wish he would tell you the rest of the story' OBSERVER

'Much too clever to be caught in the net of a single interpretation' PHILIP PULLMAN

ACCLAIMED BBC RADIO 4 DRAMATISATION WITH ALL-STAR CAST INCLUDING JAMES MCAVOY, NATALIE DORMER, DAVID HAREWOOD, SOPHIE OKONEDO AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

---

'I love doors. Anything that leads to possibilities' NEIL GAIMAN

---

Under the streets of London…


Book cover of Tunnels

Kevin Moran Why did I love this book?

Another overlooked book because it is targeted for children. It’s the first in a series and is darker in tone than others. The imagination of the underground world here is neat and built in such a way that lets you envision it. The plot can be a bit disjointed for younger readers, and there are some twists to keep it interesting, but overall, is a fast read.

By Roderick Gordon, Brian Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tunnels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Fourteen-year-old Will Burrows lives with his family in London. He
has little in common with them except for a passion for digging
which he shares with his father.

When his father suddenly disappears down an unknown tunnel, Will
decides to investigate with his friend Chester. Soon they find themselves
deep underground, where they unearth a dark and terrifying
secret - a secret which may cost them their lives.


Book cover of Gregor the Overlander

Kevin Moran Why did I love this book?

While on the more fanastical side of things, and again targeted for younger readers, the overall environment that’s built throughout really lends itself to questions about other worlds and how, not just societies, but animals adapt as well is interesting and often described really well. The prose also reads very quickly, so it’s easy to read and engaging.

By Suzanne Collins,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Gregor the Overlander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The first in a gripping young fantasy series from the
author of THE HUNGER GAMES.

When eleven-year-old Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry
room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland,
where spiders, rats and giant cockroaches coexist uneasily
with humans.

This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival
is no accident.

But Gregor wants no part of it - until he realizes it's
the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance.
Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure
that will change both him and the Underland forever.



Engrossing,…


You might also like...

Bessie

By Linda Kass,

Book cover of Bessie

Linda Kass Author Of Bessie

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Bookstore owner Learner Reader Historical novelist Long distance cyclist

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In the bigoted milieu of 1945, six days after the official end of World War II, Bess Myerson, the daughter of poor Russian immigrants living in the Bronx, remarkably rises to become Miss America, the first —and to date only— Jewish woman to do so. At stake is a $5,000 scholarship for the winner.

An intimate fictional portrait of Bess Myerson’s early life, Bessie reveals the transformation of the nearly six-foot-tall, self-deprecating yet talented preteen into an exemplar of beauty, a peripheral quality in her world. It is the unfamiliar secular society of pageantry she must choose to escape her roots as she searches for love and acceptance, eager to make her mark on the world.

Bessie

By Linda Kass,

What is this book about?

Just days after the close of World War II, Bess Myerson, the college-educated daughter of poor Russian Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx, is competing in the Miss America pageant. At stake: a $5,000 scholarship. The tension and excitement in Atlantic City's Warner Theatre is palpable, especially for traumatized Jews rooting for one of their own. So begins Bessie.


Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Bessie reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson, who, in 1945 at age twenty-one, remarkably rises to become one of the most famous women in America. This intimate fictional portrait reveals the transformation of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dystopian, archaeology, and sibling?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dystopian, archaeology, and sibling.

Dystopian Explore 541 books about dystopian
Archaeology Explore 116 books about archaeology
Sibling Explore 202 books about sibling