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...

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.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Stranger Times

Kim M. Watt Why did I love 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...

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…

Book cover of Oddjobs

Kim M. Watt Why did I love 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.

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.

What is this book about?

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but someone still needs to do the paperwork.Incomprehensible horrors from beyond are going to devour our world but that’s no excuse to get all emotional about it. Morag Murray works for the secret government organisation responsible for making sure the apocalypse goes as smoothly and as quietly as possible. In her first week on the job, Morag has to hunt down a man-eating starfish, solve a supernatural murder and, if she’s got time, prevent her own inevitable death.The first book in a new comedy series by the creators of ‘Clovenhoof’,…

Book cover of Inspector Hobbes and the Blood

Kim M. Watt Why did I love 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.

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.

What is this book about?

A reporter with nothing to lose. An inspector with something to hide. The Cotswolds’ newest odd couple is on the case…

Of all the journalists at his small-town paper, Andy Caplet is far and away the worst. At least he has a job. But when his latest expose on the strange and scandalous Inspector Hobbes backfires, Andy is left broke and homeless. The inspector’s offer of a spare room for a few days (or months) seems like the only option…

Andy agrees to accompany the inspector to investigate a sudden surge in crime and soon finds himself immersed in a…

Book cover of Pandaemonium

Kim M. Watt Why did I love 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.

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…

Book cover of The Library of the Dead

Kim M. Watt Why did I love 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.

By T. L. Huchu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a USA TODAY bestseller!

Ilube Nommo Award 2022 for Best Novel

"An absolute delight . . . kept me totally hooked." – Genevieve Cogman, bestselling author of The Invisible Library

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu's The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.


Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left…

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The Olympus Project

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of The Olympus Project

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The future is uncertain, and the stakes are high. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the planet, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. The only hope lies in the Olympus Project, a plan to colonise the moon and build on the Artemis Base.

Led by three of the best and brightest--Troy Bruin, Xavier Consus, and Xanthe Waters--they must battle both winner-take-all competition and their own differences in order to save humanity from destruction. But even as they search for a way to reconcile, a secret organisation is lurking in the shadows, threatening to extinguish their efforts and ensure humanity's downfall.

A gripping tale of leadership, ambition, and the indomitable human spirit.

The Olympus Project

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

***WINNER: GOLD MEDAL in Fiction - Thriller - Environmental, Readers' Favorite Awards 2023***

They are the best. The brightest. The hope of humanity.

And they might destroy us all…

The future. Climate change has rendered much of the world desolate. Crops are failing. Rising seas have flooded coastal communities. The earth is dying, and humanity careens toward extinction.

Enter the Olympus Project—a plan to colonise the moon, building on the Artemis Base, led by three of humankind’s best and brightest: Troy Bruin, Xavier Consus, and Xanthe Waters.

But even the best and brightest can fall prey to humanity’s failing. Soon…

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