The most recommended urban fantasy books

Who picked these books? Meet our 250 experts.

250 authors created a book list connected to urban fantasy, and here are their favorite urban fantasy books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of urban fantasy book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Three Mages and a Margarita

Jali Henry Author Of Cursed Charm

From my list on addictive urban fantasy with strong female leads.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an avid reader as a child. Then I became a teenager and started hating it! Why? Because the teachers at school started pushing classical literature on me. I didn’t read for years until a friend introduced me to fantasy. I fell in love and haven’t looked back. I love commercial fantasy fiction that has lots of action, where the writer focuses less on elegant prose and more on plot and characters. I aim to write the kind of books that readers get addicted to, where they can disappear into another world and forget they are reading – the kind of books I love to read!

Jali's book list on addictive urban fantasy with strong female leads

Jali Henry Why did Jali love this book?

The main character in this book is a badass, snarky, strong female lead and I fell in love with her immediately. But I also loved the humour in this book.

Annette Marie is particularly good at creating humourous dialogue and she did it so well in this book. There is also a reverse harem type of feel with several mages all of whom are kind of competing for the attention of the lead character.

However, unlike some reverse harem series on the market, this one is very clean with light romance – the plot is more focused around mystery-solving and action, my favourite combination! I tore through the entire series in a few weeks. Highly addictive reading!

By Annette Marie,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Three Mages and a Margarita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.

It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview — to see if I'd mesh with their "special" clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That's the definition of fitting in, right?

I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they… offered me the job?

It turns out this place isn't a bar. It's a guild. And…


Book cover of Spider's Bite

H.D. Smith Author Of Dark Hope

From my list on urban fantasy books with a strong female lead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love stories set in contemporary urban environments where magic just happens to be real. This can take many forms, but my preference is a novel with realistic real-world scenarios that have to accommodate a magical world, without making things too easy for those with power. When I write Urban Fantasy (or SciFi) I try to inject logic and consistency into the worlds I create. My day job, working in the software industry and the logic skills needed to master problem solving, add these qualities to my writing.  

H.D.'s book list on urban fantasy books with a strong female lead

H.D. Smith Why did H.D. love this book?

Jennifer Estep’s writing talents shine in her Elemental Assassin series. She has filled her world with supernatural creatures and humans with magic who can harness different elemental powers. Gin is an assassin, known as the Spider. She has ice and stone magic. She also runs the best barbecue restaurant in town and Estep’s masterful food descriptions will have your mouth watering for more.

By Jennifer Estep,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spider's Bite as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Follow Gin Blanco, a kick-butt female assassin who moonlights at a BBQ joint in Tennessee, as she searches for the person who double-crossed her in this heart-pounding and fresh paranormal romance series.

After Gin's family was murdered by a Fire elemental when she was thirteen, she lived on the streets and eventually became an assassin to survive. Now, Gin is assigned to rub out an Ashland businessman, but it turns out to be a trap. After Gin's handler is brutally murdered, she teams up with the sexy detective investigating the case to figure out who double-crossed her and why. Only…


Book cover of Amongst Our Weapons

John Jacobs Author Of Travels with High Frequency

From John's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Engineer Traveller Grandfather Optimist

John's 3 favorite reads in 2023

John Jacobs Why did John love this book?

Ben’s storytelling gets better and better. This is the ninth in the Rivers of London series continues the adventures of Peter Grant as the magical policeman of London.

As a Londoner myself, I know many of the places described and got the twitchy feeling between the shoulder blades that some of these places just could be fey. Brilliant entertaining story, but you probably need to read some of the earlier ones in the series to understand everything.

By Ben Aaronovitch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The ninth novel of the bestselling Rivers of London urban fantasy series returns to the adventures of Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, as he solves magical crimes in the city of London.

There is a world hidden underneath this great city.

The London Silver Vaults-for well over a century, the largest collection of silver for sale in the world. It has more locks than the Bank of England and more cameras than a paparazzi convention.

Not somewhere you can murder someone and vanish without a trace-only that's what happened.

The disappearing act, the reports of a blinding flash of…


The Others

By Evette Davis,

Book cover of The Others

Evette Davis Author Of Woman King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in journalism, politics, and public policy for 30-plus years and watched as the extreme voices gained the most traction on either side of a debate. On social media, these minority views often dominate the discussion. 48 States is a stand-alone novel highlighting the problems of extremist viewpoints in a civil society. I also have another book series that features a political consultant who discovers she's a witch and joins a secret society that uses magic to manipulate elections to protect humanity. Bottom line: if I can’t fix political discourse for a living, I can write science fiction novels that contemplate how to do it.

Evette's book list on dystopian stories for the bada** feminist in us all

What is my book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…

The Others

By Evette Davis,

What is this book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…


Book cover of Titanshade

Sarah J. Sover Author Of Fairy Godmurder

From my list on dicks in urban fantasy (detectives, that is).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Sarah J. Sover, and I adore smashing genres together, especially when there’s magic involved. My first book, Double-Crossing the Bridge, is a comedic fantasy about drunk trolls pulling a suicidal heist, and my new release, Fairy Godmurder is like Jessica Jones with sparkle. The novels are wildly different from each other, but they both exist in the crime-fantasy sphere, where I can delve deep into character motivations, explore wrongs in the world through a fantastical lens, and play with well-loved tropes, inverting and subverting in unexpected ways. I love that this is a growing genre, and I hope I get an influx of suggestions added to my own TBR tower because of this list!

Sarah's book list on dicks in urban fantasy (detectives, that is)

Sarah J. Sover Why did Sarah love this book?

Carter is your typical noir detective—cynical and staring down a rocks glass. But Titanshade is far from a standard city. It’s gritty and brimming with all kinds of characters from those you think you know to new species whose spilled guts smell like cinnamon. I’m particularly fond of the blood magic readings. And when Carter is backed into a corner, this hardboiled dick may surprise you.

By Dan Stout,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This noir fantasy thriller from a debut author introduces the gritty town of Titanshade, where danger lurks around every corner.

"Take a little Mickey Spillane, some Dashiell Hammet, a bit of Raymond Chandler, and mix it with Phillip K. Dick's Blade Runner; add a taste of CJ Box, and Craig Johnson, and you've got a masterpiece of a first novel." —W. Michael Gear, New York Times bestselling author

Carter's a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It's also a metropolis…


Book cover of Dead Witch Walking

K. Marie Smith Author Of Touch

From my list on strong female leads who might be morally gray.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with Irish folklore, Lord of the Rings, and X-Men comics as my bedtime stories, but I am also a domestic violence survivor twice over with c-PTSD. I was never able to get justice for anyone who hurt me. I created my stories as a way to cope and understand my feelings and triggers by making them their own personalities. So, I made my trauma available for everyone in a fantasy setting with two love interests to adore the heroine who had to endure so much but never gave up on giving people someone to root for when they couldn’t for themselves anymore.

K.'s book list on strong female leads who might be morally gray

K. Marie Smith Why did K. love this book?

What if a witch, a vampire, and a Fairy walk into a bar, all having quit their job to start a detective agency, and you get this book? I loved the pacing, the characters, all of it!

The female lead character, Rachel, is just one of the funniest characters. I loved how she was A-okay with going around the legal system in the ways she did to trip up her target was just fun.

By Kim Harrison,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Dead Witch Walking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author, Kim Harrison, comes the first book in an exciting urban fantasy series; packed with the perfect balance of wry humour and thrilling action, which will delight fans of thrillers and fantasy alike.

Rachel Morgan is a white witch and runner working for Inderland Security, in an alternate world where a bioengineered virus wiped out a great deal of the world's human population - exposing the existence of the supernatural communities that had long lived alongside humanity.

For the last five years Rachel has been tracking down law-breaking Inderlanders in modern-day Cincinnati, but now she…


Book cover of Cascade

Dale Stromberg Author Of Melancholic Parables: Being for the Antiselving Reader

From Dale's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Misfitish Stormcloudish Solitarish Word-drunk Drunk-drunk

Dale's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Dale Stromberg Why did Dale love this book?

A tale of the world’s end should be intense, and I love how Cascade is driven by ethical urgency, its gallows humour lurching grippingly into dead seriousness.

As ancient magic cataclysmically awakens (in a clear analogue to climate change), media tycoons, wizards, researchers, and anarchists strive and struggle. Some hope to mitigate catastrophe; others choose to unleash evil—racism, xenophobia, the sadistic thrill of the jackboot—for political gain. All politics are petty at the end of the world, but we remain sadly human.

For me, what lingers past the final page is a vision of humanity within catastrophe. If we are our own greatest enemy, we are also the reason we carry on. Magic, like nature, is indifferent to suffering. To be saved, we must save each other.

By Rachel A. Rosen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cascade: Book I of The Sleep of Reason trilogy

120,000 words

"A near-perfect blend of implacable horror, gallows humor, and ecological apocalypse." -- Peter Watts, author of Blindsight

What does magic want?

When Vasai Singh resurrected drowned Mumbai and raised it into the clouds, the world reacted with awe and wonder -- and no small amount of fear. As with the climate crisis believed to have caused the Cascade, resurgent magic proved lucky for some, a disaster for many others, and a source of hope and dread for everyone else.

A generation has passed since the Cascade transformed the world,…


Book cover of Dance with the Devil

L. S. Bethel Author Of The King's Seer

From my list on romance with supernatural worldbuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

Give me all the supernatural and fantasy intrigue with love on the side. Sometimes this world of ours is too much to deal with and it’s nice to visit other worlds. To read and write about the justice, love, and magic of other things that may be lacking in your life can be cathartic and gives us something to look forward to and strive for. While some of the more supernatural aspects might be out of reach, the beauty of unbreakable bonds forged in love and trust, people willing to sacrifice for what they believe in, and seeing justice prevail also gives me the hope that it's not unreachable if you believe it. 

L. S.'s book list on romance with supernatural worldbuilding

L. S. Bethel Why did L. S. love this book?

Probably one of my favorites and in my opinion best written for the series. Not surprising that my love for this book spawns because of its similarity to another book I have on this list. Once again we have cool mythology, vampire lore, an ornery hero paired with a kind-hearted but smart heroine, and moments that’ll make you want to cry, throw things into a fire, and cheer. This book spoke to my need for retribution. Throughout the book, it’s what I wanted for my mc more than anything. A need for justice, a supernatural world you want to know more about, and funny, lovable, but also broken characters that you just want to protect, I found this all and more in just this one book. 

By Sherrilyn Kenyon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Zarek is the most dangerous of all the Dark-Hunters. He endured a lifetime as a Roman slave and centuries as a Dark-Hunter in exile. Zarek trusts no one. Because of his steadfast denial to follow any orders, he is kept in isolation in Alaska where his activity is seriously limited and closely monitored. There are many who fear he will one day unleash his powers against humans as well as vampires. Have nine hundred years of exile made Zarek too vicious to be redeemed? The gods want Zarek dead but reluctantly agree to allow justice goddess Astrid to judge him.…


Book cover of Lagoon

Carl Abbott Author Of Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them

From my list on science fiction with really cool cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I discovered science fiction at age nine with Rocketship Galileo and Red Planet and have never lost my love for speculative worlds, even after growing up to follow a career teaching and writing about the history of cities and city planning. In recent years, I’ve also begun to write about the field of SF. So it is one-hundred-percent natural for me to combine the two interests and explore science fiction cities. I try to look beyond the geez-whiz technology of some imagined cities to the ideas of human-scale planning and community that might make them fun places to visit or live in if we could somehow manage to get there.  

Carl's book list on science fiction with really cool cities

Carl Abbott Why did Carl love this book?

I get bored when aliens always seem to land on the National Mall in Washington or hover over Los Angeles, so I was delighted to discover that at least one alien ship prefers to land in the lagoon off Lagos, Nigeria.

It’s a city as big or bigger than New York, after all. There is the challenge of dealing with very enigmatic visitors, but the time is the present and readers get a whirlwind tour of one of the world’s megacities. It’s like having the most highspeed guide you can imagine… who happens to be one of the most compelling SF writers today.

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria's legendary mega-city, they're more alone than they've ever been before.

But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world... and themselves.

'There was…


Book cover of Witchy Eye

Gerry Ironspear Author Of Lakhoni

From my list on fantasy set in a familiar but strange old America.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was younger, I turned to fantastical stories of determined, flawed heroes to bring me a world I could understand and control – unlike the scary reality I lived in. Most of the fantasy stories I read as I grew up were, of course, set in a medieval England-type world. But as I got older, I found myself fascinated by the history and mythology of the New World and got the feeling there was a lot of untapped potential there. So, I started studying Mesoamerican and Native American peoples, as well as picking up alternate history fantasies set in America. So of course, I had to write my own. 

Gerry's book list on fantasy set in a familiar but strange old America

Gerry Ironspear Why did Gerry love this book?

Witchy Eye instantly transported me to a fascinating, alternate Appalachia, where magic and magical creatures abound.

Not only does this book tell a coming-of-age and heroic story about Sarah Calhoun, it takes place in a fascinating world where the New World has an emperor, legends that I’d heard tell of have come to life, and undead and shapeshifters haunt Sarah’s every step.

Sarah’s voice is accessible and sympathetic. At the same time, her journey to try to claim her own powerful heritage and discover the truth about her lineage, takes place in a world that is totally replete with creatures and mythology from the New World.

DJ Butler is deeply versed in the history and legends of many regions and people from old colonial America – making this a fascinating read.

By D.J. Butler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witchy Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Sarah Calhoun is the fifteen-year-old daughter of the Elector Andrew Calhoun, one of Appalachee's military heroes and one of the electors who gets to decide who will next ascend as the Emperor of the New World. None of that matters to Sarah. She has a nat


Book cover of Rivers of London

Lynn Emery Author Of Spirited Sisters: Two Joliet Sisters Psychic Detectives Mysteries

From my list on psychic sleuths supernatural and fantasy creatures.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mixing the magical with everyday life is part of my Louisiana culture. Our history is a rich gumbo of legends from Indigenous peoples, Africa, the Caribbean, Spain, and France. So, as a child, hearing stories of the supernatural didn’t seem abnormal at all. I was ten years old when I became hooked on supernatural suspense. I voraciously read Agatha Christie's mysteries and spooky comic books. The comic book sleuths were sometimes as scary as the villains they chased. And I loved every page. What fun I had during summer school breaks! If you’re like me and love mysteries with paranormal twists, dive in. You won’t be disappointed in this list.

Lynn's book list on psychic sleuths supernatural and fantasy creatures

Lynn Emery Why did Lynn love this book?

I was instantly pulled into this first book in the Rivers of London series because of the main character. I found Constable Peter Grant to be delightfully awkward. His very much unwanted ability to see and speak to lingering spirits results in his assignment to a secret police unit that investigates crimes involving magic.

He’s stunned to meet gods, goddesses, and more fantastic beings who exist in a hidden world alongside mortals. I loved meeting all of the engaging characters, normal and supernatural. I was totally engaged in the believable world created by the author, where the ordinary ticks beside the extraordinary. Even better, the humorous situations Peter stumbles into as he chases down whodunit made me laugh out loud.

By Ben Aaronovitch,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Rivers of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1 in the Rivers of London series, from Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch.

My name is Peter Grant, and I used to be a probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth.

My story really begins when I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead...

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. After taking a statement from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost, Peter comes…