The best books for lovers of urban fantasy

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a passion for weirdness in mundane settings since my childhood days watching The Addams Family in a boring suburb. I grew up with the Apollo program, but as I realized I’d never be an astronaut, I increasingly turned to writing science fiction and fantasy set on Earth. I discovered role-playing games shortly after D&D came out, but when I became bored with characters who were only after money and mayhem, I found other RPGs and began writing for them. FGU’s Bushido introduced me to Japanese mythology, which inspired my first urban fantasy novel, The Art of Arrow Cutting, which led me to being invited to write Shadowrun novels.


I wrote...

Shadowrun: For A Few Nuyen More

By Stephen Dedman,

Book cover of Shadowrun: For A Few Nuyen More

What is my book about?

War is brewing among Seattle’s criminal syndicates, and shadowrunners Ratatosk, 8-ball, Mute, and their allies are caught in the middle. A due of powerful, highly modified assassins is killing bosses and setting the various factions against each other, and the team is called on by both Knight Errant and a Mafia family to find a way to stop the bloodshed before the streets truly run red.

But locating these assassins is one thing; stopping them is something else entirely. The duo has been modified to within an inch of their lives, swimming in enough magic and cyberware to make them nearly indestructible, and Ratatosk and his crew will have to use every bit of cunning and street smarts they know just to survive.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of War for the Oaks

Stephen Dedman Why did I love this book?

War for the Oaks is a fantasy set in a very real Minneapolis (I’ve read parts of it on location) and concerns a war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts for the city’s soul. As the fey are immortal, each side needs to recruit mortals to infect them with mortality or no victory will be possible. Eddi McCandry, a rock and roll singer, is chosen to fight alongside the Seelie Court.

Eddi starts playing an active role in their strategy and grows into the hero they need. It’s difficult not to love Eddi and her new band – some mortal, some fey – and the fact that the city she’s fighting for is real makes the story even more gripping than the battle for Gondor.

By Emma Bull,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War for the Oaks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed by critics and readers on its first publication in 1987, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is one of the novels that has defined modern urban fantasy.

Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much…


Book cover of Tea With the Black Dragon

Stephen Dedman Why did I love this book?

The difference between urban fantasy and horror is that in urban fantasy, the supernatural elements may be benign, not scary. In Tea With the Black Dragon, the fantasy element is Mayland Long, a black dragon converted to Buddhism and transformed into human form to search for a Zen master. In San Francisco, he meets middle-aged Martha Macnamara, violinist and zazen practitioner, and assists her in looking for her daughter. Amateur detectives (one of them a dragon) vs. computer criminals; there’s no magic and not much violence.

By R.A. MacAvoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tea With the Black Dragon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this "astonishing fantasy debut," a mother and a mysterious Chinese man-who is more than he appears-search for her missing daughter in San Francisco (Locus).

Offering "a deft blend of the oldest of magicks in a dragon, and the newest of sorceries in computers" (Anne McCaffrey), this is the incomparable novel that garnered Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, and Philip K. Dick Award nominations, and earned its author the John W. Campbell Best New Writer award.

Martha Macnamara knows that her daughter, Elizabeth, is in trouble-she just doesn't know what kind. Mysterious phone calls from San Francisco at odd hours of…


Book cover of Wizard of the Pigeons

Stephen Dedman Why did I love this book?

Wizard is one of Seattle’s homeless magicians, a seer who tells the truth to those who need it, haunted by a nebulous menace and hiding from his past. Apart from its (often ambiguous) fantasy elements, it’s a beautifully-written guide to urban survival and to downtown Seattle (as well as the setting for my latest novels). 

By Megan Lindholm, Tommy Arnold (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wizard of the Pigeons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fifth book in the Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb) backlist.

Seattle: a place as magical as the Emerald City.

Subtle magic seeps through the cracks in the paving stones of the sprawling metropolis. But only the inhabitants who possess special gifts are open to the city's consciousness; finding portents in the graffiti, reading messages in the rubbish or listening to warnings in the skipping-rope chants of children.

Wizard is bound to Seattle and her magic. His gift is the Knowing - a powerful enchantment allowing him to know the truth of things; to hear the life-stories of ancient mummies locked…


Book cover of Neverwhere

Stephen Dedman Why did I love this book?

Gaiman is a master of urban fantasy, but I picked this early novel of his because it’s set in London, a city I know better than any in the US. He makes excellent use of the names of London tube stations and other old landmarks to suggest a deeper, more magical history behind them, and uses it to create a working community just outside our visual range.

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

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

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Under the streets of London…


Book cover of Dreams Underfoot

Stephen Dedman Why did I love this book?

This is a collection of wonderful short stories, not a novel. It was my introduction to de Lint’s Newford, the setting of many of de Lint’s later novels and collections, a fictional composite of the best aspects of several North American cities, where beings from different mythologies co-exist with humans and interact with those who believe in them. It's such a fascinating setting, and feels so real, that I wish I could live there.

By Charles de Lint,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dreams Underfoot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to Charles de Lint’s first collection of Newford stories. Immerse yourself in his gritty fictional city—as much a character as Jilly who paints fey wonders, fiddle player Geordie seeking his stolen beloved, the conjure man and his Tree of Tales, or Paperjack revealing fortunes. Meet Gemmins who live in abandoned cars and Katrina, a mermaid so entranced by love that she’s left the cold dark water to walk in the moonlight. Visit the music clubs, the waterfront, and the alleyways where myths and magic spill into the modern world.

Reviews:
This collection of conceptually innovative, thematically simple stories proves…


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Shadow of the Hidden

By Kev Harrison,

Book cover of Shadow of the Hidden

Kev Harrison Author Of Below

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Traveller Horror addict Reader

Kev's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It’s Seb’s last day working in Turkey, but his friend Oz has been cursed. Superstition turns to terror as the effects of the ancient malediction spill over, and the lives of Oz and his family hang in the balance. Can Seb find the answers to remove the hex before it’s too late?

Journey with Seb, Oz, and Deniz across ancient North African cities as they seek to banish the Shadow of the Hidden.

Shadow of the Hidden

By Kev Harrison,

What is this book about?

It’s Seb’s last day working in Turkey, but his friend Oz has been cursed. Superstition turns to terror as the effects of the ancient malediction spill over and the lives of Oz and his family hang in the balance. Can Seb find the answers to remove the hex before it’s too late?

From Kev Harrison, author of The Balance and Below, journey with Seb, Oz and Deniz across ancient North African cities as they seek to banish the Shadow of the Hidden.


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