The best UK urban fantasy books that aren’t set in London

Who am I?

Although I’m from New Zealand, Europe has been home for a lot of my adult life, and that has included a lot of time in North Yorkshire. It always seems to me that there’s potential for magic around every corner, in the deep sinkholes and high fells of the Dales, or the cobbled charm of the York Shambles and the loom of the Abbey over Whitby harbour. So I do feel that the fact so many stories are set in London is a waste of so many delightfully different settings, and I make a point of hunting out as many alternatives as I can. I hope you enjoy this selection!


I wrote...

Gobbelino London & a Scourge of Pleasantries

By Kim M. Watt,

Book cover of Gobbelino London & a Scourge of Pleasantries

What is my book about?

Find a missing book. That was the job the woman in the Doc Martens gave us. Easy money, right? Only now it seems she’s actually an ancient, powerful sorcerer, and the book is a Book of Power that doesn’t want to be found. It wants to tear reality apart at the seams, and it’ll use anyone it can to do it. So now we’ve got one spectacularly displeased sorcerer, a hungry, still-missing book, a dentist with bad hygiene, and a neighbourhood having some reality issues to deal with. Plus about a day before the book turns our world – and us – inside out.

We’ve totally got this. I hope.

The books I picked & why

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The Stranger Times

By C.K. McDonnell,

Book cover of The Stranger Times

Why this book?

I love finding a new series that hits all my favourite urban fantasy points – smart, funny, peopled with delightfully weird and very uncool characters, and it’s set anywhere in the UK outside London (nothing against London, it’s just fun to read about somewhere different). C.K. McDonnell’s The Stranger Times hits all of these, plus is partly inspired by actual news stories from around the world (some clippings included, and the author’s podcast covers a lot more). This is a pure joy to read, and I’m definitely looking at Manchester a little differently now...

The Stranger Times

By C.K. McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Stranger Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Wonderfully dark, extremely funny' proclaimed ADAM KAY, author of the No.1 bestselling This is Going to Hurt
'A filmic romp with great characters, a jet-propelled plot, and a winning premise' said the GUARDIAN
JASON MANFORD thinks it's 'Hilarious. You'll never look at Manchester the same way again.'
The Chronicles of St Mary's series author JODI TAYLOR declared 'I loved this . . . great premise - great story - great characters . . . hugely enjoyable.'
And THE TIMES called it 'ripping entertainment from start to finish.'

There are dark forces at work in our world (and in Manchester in…


Oddjobs

By Heide Goody, Iain Grant,

Book cover of Oddjobs

Why this book?

Heide Goody and Iain Grant do a great line in funny, inventive stories, both non-fantastical and urban fantasy, but Oddjobs is a favourite for me. Lovecraftian monsters are due to break through into our world at any moment, and Morag works in a top-secret government department in Birmingham that’s tasked with making sure the apocalypse goes as smoothly as possible. Which sounds a lot darker and less entertaining than the story actually is. It’s full of delightfully sharp humour, and a fantastic blend of office drudgery and otherworldly terrors.

Oddjobs

By Heide Goody, Iain Grant,

Why should I read it?

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


Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

By Wilkie Martin,

Book cover of Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

Why this book?

In the depths of the Cotswolds, Andy Caplet is a small-town journalist with a disastrous career (and life). Until, that is, the mysterious Inspector Hobbes offers him a spare room and the chance to follow along on some investigations. The only problem being, none of the cases are exactly the usual sort of crime, and Inspector Hobbes is not a usual inspector. Or a usual human. These stories are just fun, goofy escapism, caught somewhere between cosy mystery and urban fantasy, and they’re pure entertainment. Andy can be a bit annoying, but Inspector Hobbes is delightful.

Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

By Wilkie Martin,

Why should I read it?

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


Pandaemonium

By Christopher Brookmyre,

Book cover of Pandaemonium

Why this book?

Christopher Brookmyre writes some truly entertaining crime capers with a good bite of social commentary, but things go seriously off the rails in Pandaemonium. A religion-heavy Scottish Highland retreat for high school students who have lost a fellow pupil to murder is already fraught with secret parties and hookups, but when a nearby military base has a small mishap involving unleashing the forces of hell, things get really interesting. And weird. And very much fun for the reader, if not for the characters.

Pandaemonium

By Christopher Brookmyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The senior pupils of St Peter's High School are on retreat to a secluded outdoor activity centre, coming to terms with the murder of a fellow pupil through the means you would expect: counselling, contemplation, candid discussion and even prayer - not to mention booze, drugs, clandestine liaisons and as much partying as they can get away with.

Not so far away, the commanders of a top-secret military experiment, long-since spiralled out of control, fear they may have literally unleashed the forces of Hell.

Two very different worlds are on a collision course, and will clash in an earthly battle…


The Library of the Dead

By T. L. Huchu,

Book cover of The Library of the Dead

Why this book?

So, this is a little bit of a cheat, as it’s got a good dollop of dystopian sci-fi in with the urban fantasy, but it’s too good a book to leave off. And it’s not the sort of dystopia we usually think of – no aftermath of nuclear war or ravening zombies. But water is scarce, and the city centres are mostly abandoned, and Ropa has dropped out of school to become a ghost-talker to support her family. Plus there is, of course, a kind-of magical library, which is an automatic win for any book. Ropa is an interesting character with a lot of potential for development, and there’s enough humour to lift the darker moments.

The Library of the Dead

By T. L. Huchu,

Why should I read it?

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


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