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Recently, my love for dark fantasy books has grown. Maybe it’s my love for horror and the creepy atmospheric vibe that makes me want these books more and more. Maybe it’s because most of the time there is no good or bad in these novels — the balance of being good or being bad is askew. Morally grey characters are usually found in dark fantasy books, so you get to see characters who don’t always go on a path decided for them before the novel starts. If you’re like me and enjoy all of these things as well, take a look at these next dark fantasy books.
Horror is usually sitting right beside fantasy when it comes to dark fantasy books. There are certain topics that can be traced back to the horror genre that you can find in dark fantasy, like death, monsters, suspense, and so many others that will take so much space if I name them. Even if the whole book isn’t about one theme, you can definitely spot them inside dark fantasy. That’s what makes it so interesting. To have your favorite genres mixed together, becoming a new thing to obsess over. So, you can have your epic fantasy adventure, but with a few evil creatures and blood.
Please be cautious about starting these books! Most of them, or all of them, have dark themes and topics. I’m going to try to include content warnings whenever possible, but your mileage may vary.
Adult Dark Fantasy Books
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Legends and myths fill up this book in a wonderful tale of sisters and curses.
Red’s life has been given to the Wolf since birth. By being the Second Daughter, that has always been her destiny. Red is rather relieved to enter the Wilderwood. There, she cannot hurt the people she loves with the dark powers she has inside her.
But the legends lie. The Wolf isn’t a monster, he’s a man. And his magic is calling hers.
Content warnings can be found here.
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Gild by Raven Kennedy
Auren is the King’s favored. She has been Gold-Touched by him, to show everyone she belongs to him. Since she was a teenager, after being saved by King Midas, she has lived her life inside the palace, inside a gilded cage made to never let her out. He has always given her protection in that way.
Until war comes to the kingdom and her trust is broken. Now Auren is ready to climb down those tall walls, break down her gilded cage, and see the world.
Content warnings for attempted rape, rape, pedophilia, grooming, Stockholm syndrome, abuse, violence, and misogyny.
The City of Dusk by Tara Sim (March 22, 2022)
The way I’m awaiting Tara Sim’s new trilogy! The City of Dusk is the start of an epic dark fantasy series where four heirs of four noble houses form an alliance to keep their kingdom from getting into a realm-shattering war.
For each realm, there is a god. And for each god, there is an heir. Without the gods, the realms will perish. So when they withdraw their favor, chaos commences.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Inspired by the movie Labyrinth (1986), a young musician will travel to the Underground to save her sister from the Goblin King.
Darkly romantic, Wintersong is the tale of Liesl and her new life as she journeys to the Goblin King’s kingdom. What she finds is a captivating world filled with wonders and rare beings. And in the center of it all, the man who rules it, the Goblin King.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
A queer Southern gothic fantasy novel that will haunt your dreams and your reality. It’s The Secret History meets Fast and Furious. It sounds good and based on pretty much everyone’s reviews, it’s also pretty amazing.
Andrew and Eddie have been best friends since childhood. Then, Eddie moves away to finish his graduate program. Andrew’s supposed to join him six months later, and when he’s ready to do so, he finds out that Eddie supposedly died by suicide. He has left Andrew his inheritance, a group of friends, and a dark secret.
Content warnings for mentions of suicide, homophobia, racism, gore, blood, and death.
YA Dark Fantasy Books
Only A Monster by Vanessa Len (February 22, 2022)
I’m so excited to start reading this dark fantasy YA novel because I love monsters. Especially if a main character is one.
Half-human, half-monster Joan is sent to London for the summer. When the cute coworker asks her out, she thinks that the summer couldn’t be better. Unfortunately, she finds out that she comes from a monster family with terrifying powers. And the cute guy? He’s a monster slayer who wants them dead.
Now, she has to team up with the heir to another monster family to save herself and her family. But their families have been enemies for so many years. What could go wrong, right?
Content warnings for violence, blood, murder, involuntary drug use, and fantasy xenophobia.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Necromancers need no introductions. And this one definitely doesn’t.
Everything starts when Tea accidentally brings back her dead brother. Her life quickly changes after that. She finds out that she is different from other witches — she’s a bone witch. The kingdom both fears and loathes them. And this is where Tea’s story begins. Where we find out how she became the villain of the story.
Content warnings for blood magic, gore, and death.
Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
Being dismissed from the Queen’s guard is not something Wren saw as a possibility. But because of her decisions and bad use of her magic, she finds herself all alone.
When a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, she takes that opportunity to redeem herself. Now she has to travel to a crumbling mansion to cure the lord’s servant. But the one who was called a servant is no servant at all. It’s the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s worst enemy, Hal Cavendish, who needs her help.
Content warnings for mention of war, death, violence, torture, gore, murder, kidnapping, and graphic medical surgeries.
That Dark Infinity by Kate Pentecost
Imagine The Witcher, but every time this monster hunter sees the day, he becomes bones. And every night, he resurrects. He is cursed in an endless cycle of immortality and he just wants to break it.
Help comes in the form of a loyal handmaiden whose kingdom recently got sacked. As the sole survivor of the massacre, the only thing she wants is to find her missing princess. If he helps her find the princess, she will help him break his curse.
Content warnings for rape, death, and graphic violence.
Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan
When I first saw this book being pitched as Prince Zuko and Katara teaming up for a fantasy adventure, I thought, “this is perfect for me!” Jade Fire Gold is definitely a book I’m super excited to read.
One of them is no one. The other is lost. When Anh and Altan meet, both see that they can help each other out. Altan wants a way to reclaim his throne while Anh craves to understand her magical abilities.
Content warnings for self-harm, child abuse, parent death, violence, blood, war, and descriptions of physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia.
What We Devour by Linsey Miller
Lorena is keeping a big secret. A deadly secret. She holds the power of the gods inside her. But she wants to live a life where no one finds out the truth.
But when the bloodthirsty crown prince comes to arrest her betrothed’s father, he finds out what she is. What she hides. Because of this, she makes him a deal: he will give a fair trial in exchange for her service to the crown. The prince is desperate for her help, for that powerful magic inside her. He’s losing a battle against the gods and she is the only one who can save them all.
Content warnings for self-harm (cutting) magic system, murder, references to child death, blood, abuse, and death.
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker
Enter the world of the dead in this rich and luscious story that will captivate you immediately after just one page.
Ren is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. And she really has never felt like she belongs. When she is unable to control her Shinigami powers, she is banished from London and flees to Japan, to the Underworld, to serve the Goddess of Death…
Content warnings for blood, gore, mentions of cannibalism, murder, death, racism, mentions of child abandonment, and bullying.
I’m sure that as soon as you read any of these books, you will find yourself completely adoring them. Get immersed into worlds of dark magic, epic adventures, and rich characters. They’re perfect for the spooky month! But also for every other month, because picking up a dark fantasy novel to read is never a bad choice. Find even more dark fantasy reads here.