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Penguin ROC | Roc Orbit | Hyperion Book CH Daw Books | Penguin Group (USA) | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Headline Review St. Martin’s Griffin | Del Rey | Gollancz HarperCollins

Urban Fantasies That Beat Your Favorite High Fantasies

When you think of fantasy, you probably think of magical creatures, faraway lands, and knights in shining armor. But what about the paranormal among our own world?
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All I ever hear about nowadays on social media are epic fantasies like A Court of Thorns and Roses and Lord of the Rings. But I’ve read those already. I want something new–not the same popular BookTok books that everyone is recommending. And while I do love an escape into a brand-new fictional world, it’s also fun to read about paranormal and fantasy creatures living among us ordinary humans. These urban fantasy book series are sure to keep you entertained!

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
Penguin ROC | Roc

This ongoing series follows Harry Dresden, a private investigator that happens to be a wizard. Dresden solves various crimes and mysteries around Chicago. He works with both magical and non-magical people, sometimes even helping the police department.

Throughout the series, we get to see all kinds of creatures, from wizards and faeries to vampires and werewolves and so many more. There are also governments and organizations for each species within the city limits. Each mystery will have you scratching your head.

There are currently 17 novels, 2 short story bind-ups, ten graphic novels, and two more novels on the way. A game, The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, is a tabletop game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. There was even a one-season show released on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2007.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse or The Southern Vampire Mysteries or True Blood series by Charlaine Harris
Gollancz | Orbit | Ace Books

Better known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels or The True Blood Novels, the series follows Sookie Stackhouse as she gets accustomed to living with vampires in Bon Temps, Lousiana. Charlaine Harris created a world with a colorful history; anyone would be lucky to live there.

The series has 13 novels, 18 novellas, and two additional books (The Sookie Stackhouse Companion and After Dead) that help us understand the world a bit better. And if you somehow missed it, True Blood was based on the series with Anna Paquin playing Sookie.

See Also: Reality Bites: The Best Urban Fantasy to Escape into This Winter

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
Hyperion Book CH | Disney Hyperion

Hex Hall is one of my favorite series! The first three books focus on Sophie Mercer, a teenage witch at Hex – I mean Hecate – Hall. The first book throws Sophie into the mystery of a former student’s death before a war surrounding the school starts up again.

The fourth book, which I wish was the start of another trilogy, is School Spirit. It follows Sophie’s cousin Izzy, who we first meet in the third book, Spell Bound. Unlike Sophie, Izzy is a Brannick, part of a clan at war with Prodigium (supernatural creatures).

You’ll love Sophie as she grows into her powers throughout the trilogy. Even more, you’ll be satisfied with the ending. Two of the characters who lost their lives in the fight finally find peace, and even better, the spin-off book doesn’t ruin the end.

See also: Completed Series Perfect for Your Next Binge Read

October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire

October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
Daw Books | Penguin Group (USA)

I first discovered this series when I saw one of the covers on Pinterest and instantly wanted to know more. At the time, there were only six books in the series. Now there are 15 books, with at least two more on the way. There are tons of short stories if that’s not enough for you.

October Daye is a changeling who has tried to fit in with humans for years. But in the first book, she’s pulled back to her Faerie roots when a countess is killed. Before turning her back on the faeries, Daye was a knight errant, and she’ll have to become that again to solve the mystery.

I didn’t know I needed faeries in modern-day worlds, but I’m so glad I found Seanan McGuire’s work. And this is the first time I’ve seen changelings in books where they were described or treated poorly just because they’re not fully faerie or human.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a trilogy that was extremely popular when it first came out. But I haven’t heard much about it since a year after the last book was published. The first book was also supposed to be adapted into a movie in 2012, but alas, no movie yet.

Karou, a protagonist of the books, lives in a world where a war rages on between Chimaera and Seraphim. She meets different Chimaera and Seraphim throughout the series while living in Prague. You won’t be able to choose a side in this war, and I don’t blame you.

See Also: The Best Fantasy Books Written by Women

Pax Arcana Series by Elliott James

Pax Arcana series by Elliott James
Orbit

When you think of fantasy, you probably envision a knight in shining armor. You’re halfway there with this series; John Charming is a knight, but he wears a leather jacket. There are five novels and seven short stories in the series. I’m still waiting for more books like Pax Arcana.

John was born into a family of witch- and monster-hunters. From a young age, he’s done everything to protect ordinary humans, but he goes too far. As an adult, he’s been able to avoid the supernatural. Still, everything is about to change when a vampire shows up at his job.

‘American Gods’ and ‘Anansi Boys’ by Neil Gaiman

American Gods duology by Neil Gaiman
Headline Review | William Morrow Paperbacks

It’s no secret that Neil Gaiman has amazing books, and this duology is no different. The Norse gods now live in modern America, and Odin has just hired a bodyguard. Odin is now Shadow, and his bodyguard quickly learns that his job is a lot tougher than he signed on for.

The second book, Anansi Boys, is not a direct sequel, but we see some characters show back up. It follows the twin sons of Anansi, a West African trickster now living in America. The first book was adapted into a television show that went on from 2017 to 2021.

Shadow Falls Series by C.C. Hunter

Shadow Falls and After Dark series by C.C. Hunter
St. Martin’s Griffin | St. Martin’s Press

Shadow Falls is a camp for supernatural teens to learn to control their powers and meet other teens like them. At the camp are werewolves, shapeshifters, witches, vampires, fairies, and an unknown species called Chameleons. Chameleons are able to shift their DNA to fit in when they need to.

This was the first urban fantasy I ever picked up, and I couldn’t love it more. Shadow Falls follows Kylie, a supernatural that is sent to the camp after a party goes haywire. Despite the annoying love triangle, she finds who she truly is and ends up with who I hoped she’d end up with.

There are five books and two novellas in the series, but it doesn’t stop there. A spin-off series, Shadow Falls: After Dark, was released because fans, including myself, wanted more. After Dark follows vampire Della, dyslexic witch Miranda, and other campers at Shadow Falls.

The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison

The Hollows series by Kim Harrison
HarperCollins | HarperVoyager | Voyager GB

The Hollows follows supernatural bounty hunter Rachel Morgan and her partners, Ivy and Jenks. Ivy is a vampire, and Jenks is a four-inch pixy. The three hunt humans and supernatural creatures in and around Cincinnati. They also live together in a decommissioned church in the Hollows district.

This is perfect for fans of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong or people who want to get into adult urban fantasy. There are sixteen books in the series and many short stories. Four of those short stories are also narrated by different significant characters.

Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London or Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch
Del Rey | Gollancz

The eight-novel Rivers of London series follows Peter Grant, a police officer and apprentice wizard in the Metropolitan area. Each book has a new mystery that Peter must solve while also learning about his new life among other wizards and supernatural creatures.

The first book sees Peter solve two mysteries that are actually related to each other. In addition to the eight novels, Aaronovitch wrote three novellas and co-wrote seven graphic novels following Peter. The other author of the graphic novels is Andrew Cartmel.

Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising Series by Kelley Armstrong

Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies by Kelley Armstrong
HarperCollins

I could have gone the easy route and talked about Kelley Armstrong’s adult series, Otherworld. But instead, I went with her two YA series that intersect. Darkest Powers follows a group of teens at a “group home” who run away, led by Chloe Saunders.

On the other hand, Darkness Rising follows another group of teens on the run with Maya Delaney, a skinwalker who discovers her powers on accident. The two groups crash into each other in the final book. If you want to read these two series, start with Darkest Powers.

Kitty Norville Series by Carrie Vaughan

Kitty Orville series by Carrie Vaughan
Grand Central Publishing

With adult urban fantasies, there’s usually a private investigator or police officer solving mysteries. This series turns that trope on its head and makes its main character a late-night radio host hiding her own supernatural identity. She didn’t even mean to start the radio show, but hey, at least she’s got a job, right?

Kitty Norville’s radio show highlights issues vampires and werewolves face, including people trying to “convert” them back into humans. The completed series is fourteen books long. The author, though, said spin-off books are in progress.

House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast
St. Martin’s Griffin | Atom

When the Twilight resurgence happened over the last two years, House of Night came back to light, too. In this universe, vampyres are marked as fledglings and must attend school around other vampyres. The main catch is anytime during their transition, they could die.

Once they become full vampyres, their marks are fully filled in, and more markings cover their bodies over time. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Zoey Redbird somehow came to the school with a full mark after a chance meeting with Nyx, the goddess of night.

House of Night consists of twelve books following Zoey through her transition and her fight with her supposed mentor. There’s a lot of Native American representation and mythology interweaved in the vampyre world. A spin-off series called House of Night: Other World is currently being released.

Finished the urban fantasies already? Have you tried the top ten fantasy books that everyone should read?