Urban Fantasy recommendations
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
I’ve decided to share some recommendations for books that are part of the ‘urban fantasy’ genre as it’s a favourite genre of mine.
(There’s been some discussion recently about whether the term ‘urban’ is derogatory but given that the word in this context means ‘city’ and there isn’t another well-known term for this genre, I’ll leave it for the time being. If you have a better way of describing this genre, please let me know in the comments!)
Urban fantasy is usually defined as fantasy that takes part in a city (or densely populated area). Some class it as a sub-genre under ‘contemporary fantasy’, which means that the plot also has to take part in the present.
My recommendations are mostly confined to the lead protagonist having magic (opposed to being something else in the supernatural world), although I deviate slightly here and there. Also, most of the characters are private investigators or solve mysteries. You’ll find most protagonists fall under this category in the genre.
Some of these books may fall under another sub-genre, so you may disagree with the way I’ve included them here. That’s okay – let me know in the comments why.
There are MANY books in this genre, so I’ve just chosen a few to share with you. There’s a varying quality in these books – I’m not saying they are all amazing, but I found each enjoyable. I’ve also read the books I’m recommending but will admit I’ve not read EVERY book in all the series (looking at you Jane Yellowrock). If you do the maths there’s probably around (if not more!) 100 books listed below, so hopefully you’ll understand why!
This is by no means a comprehensive list and features mostly well-known series. I’ve written a short summary for each series which was fun to try and do while remaining spoiler free. If you want to share any recommendations in the comments, please do!
Alex Verus by Benedict Jacka A Diviner is drawn back into the magic world and explores his own dark past, all set against a centuries old fight between ‘light’ and ‘dark’ affiliated mages. Set in London. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch A London Probationary Police Constable suddenly becomes a Magician’s Apprentice. Shenanigans ensue as he learns more about the supernatural world. Dresden Files by Jim Butcher Harry Dresden is probably the only wizard in the world to advertise in the yellow pages. Join this misfit PI as he tries to the save Chicago (and sometimes the world) against evil forces.
The Nightside – Simon R Green John Taylor is a PI in a fictional (very sleazy) version of London called the Nightside. He’s a badass in a white trench coat. Iron Druid Chornicles – Kevin Hearne Atticus O’Sullivan is the last surviving druid. He just wants to live in peace…unfortunately, he’s made a lot of enemies in the thousands of years he’s been alive.
The Forty Proof Series by Shannon Mayer
Okay, this is billed by the author as a paranormal woman’s fiction, but I think it fits under this genre! Newly divorced 40 something old Breena returns to Savannah to rediscover her magical background and kick some serious ducking ass.
Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
Kate has been training all her life and is a general badass. Join her in a ‘new’ world, where magic and technology mix and it’s up to Kate to save the day (all while avoiding entanglement with the local pack and revealing her secret).
The Nix Series by Shannon Mayer
Nix ran away from her past, but when her husband and son are killed, she vows to do everything she can to find those responsible and make them pay.
Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs
Mercy is a coyote, living next to a werewolf in Tri-Cities area of Washington. Join her adventures as she helps her allies solve mysteries and find her place in life.
The Harper Connelly Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
As a child Harper was struck by lightning and can now tell how people died. I think you can guess where this is going…
Jane Yellowrock by Faith Hunter
Jane is an orphan that also happens to be a skinwalker of Cherokee descent. She hunts vampires for a living and lives in New Orleans. Join her chase vampires and learn more about her past. Billed as Dark Urban Fantasy.
Alice Worth Series by Lisa Edmonds
Alice’s father ran a cabal – Alice ran away and started a new life as a PI. Join her solving mysteries, while trying to avoid people learning the truth about her past. Also, she has magic. Lots of it.
The Jezebel Files by Deborah Wilde
Ash is the only mundane PI in Vancouver. Until one day she discovers she isn’t just a mundane (aka has no magic) and her life gets a lot more difficult.
Anita Blake by Laurell K Hamilton
Anita Blake is a badass necromancer, who is also a vampire executioner who also helps the police solve paranormal crimes on the side. This (very long, still ongoing) series starts off well and then descends into soft porn. Seriously – Anita become a succubus.
Boundary Magic by Melissa F Olson
Lex is a US army vet with PTSD, a dead twin and a sudden power that is linked to death. Join her as she fights to protect her niece (a null) by joining forces with the local vampire kiss.
Scarlet Bernard Series and Disrupted Magic Series by Melissa F Olson
Scarlett Bernard is a null who helps her local pack, vampire kiss and witch’s coven enact an uneasy peace. These are two series with the same protagonist – Scarlett.
Cassandra Palmer by Karen Chance
Cassie is a powerful clairvoyant, who can also time travel. When her power is discovered, the supernatural world rushes to try and control her. (These books jump time frequently and plots cross each (i.e. in book three you’ll find yourself in book one’s plot. It’s confusing, but worth it)
Weather Warden by Rachel Caine
Joanne is a weather warden who helps defend humanity against mother nature. Only problem is she’s now on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.
You can find all of these books on Amazon and for your Kindle. I know some are also available as audio books. Most will be sold in large bookstores, although you might need to ask them to order some of the books in the series!