The best books with magic and magical creatures in a modern, futuristic, or urban setting

The Books I Picked & Why

Magic Bites

By Ilona Andrews

Book cover of Magic Bites

Why this book?

Readers will love this book for its exemplary world building, its kick-ass heroine, and its smooth writing style. I loved this book because it had straight-up action, a main character I could happily follow, and a promise of romance to come.

The fight scenes were well choreographed, and the shift from tech to magic and back again at random moments lent an air of uncertainty. It threw obstacles at the characters and forced them to create workarounds for it. 

I enjoyed discovering the intricacies of this unique world and immediately sought out the second book in the series. I read each book quickly because I was hooked. I’ve also read book three and want to read more.

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A Discovery of Witches

By Deborah Harkness

Book cover of A Discovery of Witches

Why this book?

The magical creatures in this story hide their existence from humans but live amongst them. I loved that Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, studies the DNA of the different species and tries to understand their origins. Mixing magic with science always captures my interest.

I first tripped over A Discovery of Witches via the television series when Amazon Prime made season one available to view. I watched the entire season within a couple of weeks, and since I already had the book in my TBR pile, I immediately read it.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. The show followed the book fairly closely (season one follows book one), which pleased me. I plan to read and watch the rest of the series.

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Dead Until Dark

By Charlaine Harris

Book cover of Dead Until Dark

Why this book?

This is another book that I started reading because I loved the television series, in this case, True Blood. Book one, Dead until Dark, is the source for season one of the television series.

Charlaine Harris has an easy-to-read writing style, and her main character, Sookie Stackhouse, is an amusing character to follow. Her interactions with the vampires, who’ve “come out of the coffin,” make for lively reading. I loved the twist that she’s telepathic but can’t read the minds of vampires.

I’ve read the first two books in the series and plan to keep reading.

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Year One (Chronicles of the One, Book 1)

By Nora Roberts

Book cover of Year One (Chronicles of the One, Book 1)

Why this book?

Nora Roberts is one of my all-time favorite authors. If she writes it, I’ll read it.

Year One is a departure from her typical fare. It’s an apocalyptic urban fantasy that begins with a pandemic and ends with an unmasked world filled with magical characters. Published in 2017, it predates the COVID-19 pandemic by three years.

Rather than make me think life imitated art or that Ms. Roberts is psychic, I view it more as Nora Roberts’s take on a story similar to The Stand but written in her unique style. For any of her fans seeking another paranormal romance, it might disappoint, but if you enjoy her writing, you’ll love this book anyway.

Year One is the first book in a trilogy, and it’s a book I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.

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Practical Magic

By Alice Hoffman

Book cover of Practical Magic

Why this book?

This is another book that I picked up because I saw the movie first, which stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as the witchy Owens sisters. I couldn’t wait to hunt down the book at my local library.

The book has a different feel. It’s darker and sadder, but I enjoyed it anyway. The writing captivated me, and the characters drew me in. A book allows you to live in a character’s head, to be privy to their thoughts and motivations, in the way a movie can’t. 

I loved the strangeness of the two sisters’ witch-family lives and the despair of a curse that forbids the Owen girls to fall in love. The big question throughout the entire story, of course, is will they get around the curse?

A big draw for me is Hoffman’s beautiful writing style. I’ve also read The Rules of Magic, which is a prequel to Practical Magic and just as captivating.

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