26 Best Dark Fantasy Books For Adults
Fantasy books have always transported their readers to wonderous lands and the best dark fantasy books go even further. These stunning book series and novels will take you on unforgettable adventures.
You’ll find on our list all kinds of dark delights from dark fantasy romance books, and dark fantasy horror books, to new dark fantasy YA novels.
If you’re into epic adventures and tales you should pick up one of these thrilling and spooky high fantasy books or sci-fi fantasy book series that will help you understand unimaginable universes.
RELATED: BEST DARK FANTASY AUDIOBOOKS FOR ADULTS
You can also explore diverse dark fantasy books by diverse writers from around the world. This will help you explore not only fictional worlds but our own in a different and more magical way.
From China through Italy to the USA and through enchanting imaginary lands here are our favorite new dark fantasy books. From highest rated dark novels to the most beloved new dark fantasy books you’ll find here something deliciously dark to fell in love with.
Are you looking for more fantasy books? Check out our other book lists and bookish guides that’ll inspire imagination and wanderlust. Or visit our online book nook where you’ll find exciting new book releases, must-read classic novels, and lesser-known books from around the world by diverse and fan-favorite writers.
Updated March 31, 2023 by Jella Erhard.
Adult dark fantasy book lovers can find all types of fascinating classic and new stories that’ll transport them into magical fantasy realms and immerse them in mysterious, thrilling, and one of a kind stories.
You’ll find here not only some of the must read classics but new dark fantasy books for adults too. No matter if you love historical settings. sweeping romances, horrors or twisted mysteries and thrillers set in dark fantasy realms because you’ll surely in find here a few reads you won’t be able to put down easily.
Must-Read New Dark Fantasy Books For Adults & YA Readers
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26| Thick as Thieves by M. J. Kuhn | July 2023 | Adult Dark Fantasy Book
Ryia Cautella, a.k.a. the Butcher of Carrowick, and her motley crew have succeeded in the ultimate heist…with the most dire possible consequences.
A terrifyingly powerful tool has fallen into the hands of Callum Clem, the criminal leader of the Saints, who was already one of the most dangerous men alive.
With the newfound ability to force magic-wielding Adepts to his will, he is unstoppable.
With their group scattered throughout the five kingdoms of Thamorr—and not all on the same side of the fight—things seem hopeless.
But can Ryia get the gang back together for one last job? Or will chess-worthy power plays and shifting loyalties change Thamorr as they know it?
Thick As Theves is one of the most magical dark fantasy books for adults and YA readers.
25| Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire | January 2023 | Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Book
A young girl discovers an infinite variety of worlds in this standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series from Seanan McGuire, Lost in the Moment and Found.
Welcome to the Shop Where the Lost Things Go.
If you ever lost a sock, you’ll find it here.
If you ever wondered about favorite toy from childhood… it’s probably sitting on a shelf in the back.
And the headphones that you swore that this time you’d keep safe? You guessed it….
Antoinette has lost her father. Metaphorically. He’s not in the shop, and she’ll never see him again.
But when Antsy finds herself lost (literally, this time), she finds that however many doors open for her, leaving the Shop for good might not be as simple as it sounds.
And stepping through those doors exacts a price.
Lost in the Moment and Found tells us that childhood and innocence, once lost, can never be found.
Lost in The Moment And Found is one of the most touching dark fantasy books for adults and YA readers.
24| The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw |May 2023 | Adult Horor Dark Fantasy Book
From USA Today bestselling author Cassandra Khaw comes The Salt Grows Heavy, a razor-sharp and bewitching fairytale of discovering the darkness in the world, and the darkness within oneself.
You may think you know how the fairytale goes: a mermaid comes to shore and weds the prince. But what the fables forget is that mermaids have teeth.
And now, her daughters have devoured the kingdom and burned it to ashes.
On the run, the mermaid is joined by a mysterious plague doctor with a darkness of their own.
Deep in the eerie, snow-crusted forest, the pair stumble upon a village of ageless children who thirst for blood, and the three ‘saints’ who control them.
The mermaid and her doctor must embrace the cruellest parts of their true nature if they hope to survive.
The Salt Grows Heavy d is one of the most darkly magical adult dark fantasy books with chilling charcters and an unforgettable story.
23| The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland | March 2023 | Adult Dark Fantasy Book
By turns suspenseful and enchanting, this breathtaking first novel weaves a story of love, family, history, and myth as seen through the eyes of one immortal woman
Collette LeSange is a lonely artist who heads an elite fine arts school for children in upstate New York.
Her youthful beauty masks the dark truth of her life: she has endured centuries of turmoil and heartache in the wake of her grandfather’s long-ago decision to make her immortal like himself.
Now in 1984, Collette finds her life upended by the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, the return of a stalking presence from her past, and her own mysteriously growing hunger.
Combining brilliant prose with breathtaking suspense, The God of Endings serves as a larger exploration of the human condition in all its complexity, asking us the most fundamental question: is life in this world a gift or a curse
The God Of Endings is one of the scariest adult dark fantasy books with a unique story.
22| Mountains Made of Glass by Scarlett St. Clair | March 2023 | Adult Dark Fantasy Retelling Book
“Could you love me?” he whispered. The question stole my breath and burned my lungs in the silence that followed.
I wanted to answer, to whisper yes into the space between us, but I was afraid.
All Gesela’s life, her home village of Elk has been cursed. And it isn’t a single curse—it is one after another, each to be broken by a villager, each with devastating consequences. When Elk’s well goes dry, it is Gesela’s turn to save her town by killing the toad that lives at the bottom. Except… the toad is not a toad at all. He is an Elven prince under a curse of his own, and upon his death, his brothers come for Gesela, seeking retribution.
As punishment, the princes banish Gesela to live with their seventh brother, the one they call the beast. Gesela expects to be the prisoner of a hideous monster, but the beast turns out to be exquisitely beautiful, and rather than lock her in a cell, he offers Gesela a deal. If she can guess his true name in seven days, she can go free.
Gesela agrees, but there is a hidden catch—she must speak his name with love in order to free him, too.
But can either of them learn to love in time?
If you loveooking for more spicy and dark new fae books then this is a great choice for your.
Mountains Made Of Glass is one of the most magical dark fantasy books for adults who love retellings, fae, and magical romance novels.
21| The First Bright Thing by J. R. Dawson | June 2023 | Adult Dark Fantasy Historical Book
If you knew how dark tomorrow would be, what would you do with today?
Ringmaster — Rin, to those who know her best — can jump to different moments in time as easily as her wife, Odette, soars from bar to bar on the trapeze.
And the circus they lead is a rare home and safe haven for magical misfits and outcasts, known as Sparks.
With the world still reeling from World War I, Rin and her troupe — the Circus of the Fantasticals — travel the midwest, offering a single night of enchantment and respite to all who step into their Big Top.
But threats come at Rin from all sides. The future holds an impending war that the Sparks can see barrelling toward their show and everyone in it.
And Rin’s past creeps closer every day, a malevolent shadow she can’t fully escape.
It takes the form of another circus, with tents as black as midnight and a ringmaster who rules over his troupe with a dangerous power.
Rin’s circus has something he wants, and he won’t stop until it’s his.
The First Bright Thing is one of the most fascinating and deeply atmoshperic new dark fantasy books for adults with a chilling story.
20| The Forever Sea by Joshua Phillip Johnson | Published: 2021 | Dark Eco-Fantasy Novel
The Forever Sea is the first book of a new environmental epic fantasy series. It’s a wonderfully written dark fantasy novel and is a great choice for those who enjoy Erin Morgenstern and Neil Gaiman novels.
It’s set in a magical world where giant vintage sailing ships kept afloat by magic and sail an endless grass sea aka The Forever Sea. It has a fascinating and original world and a thrilling story.
The tale follows Kindred a heartfire keeper and sailor. Heartfires responsible for keeping the ships afloat. Her story turns darker when she receives the news that her grandmother stepped off her vessel into the never-ending sea and disappeared. However, Kindred soon finds out that her grandmother had a good reason to do so. So she set out to find out what’s really behind her disappearance.
The Forever Sea is a stunningly written dark fantasy book for adults who love unique stories and one-of-a-kind magical worlds.
19| Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff | Published: 2021 | Vampires, Horror Fantasy Novel
Empire of The Vampire is a fantastic dark fantasy book for adults who enjoy more serious horror stories. If you loved Interview With a Vampire and The Name Of The Wind then you’ll probably love this fascinating story too.
It does have some pretty gruesome parts, descriptive sex scenes, and overall it’s a great horror-fantasy book to read after dark.
It’s a story about Gabriel, humanity’s last hero and defender against the vampires who’ve been in a bloody war with humans for decades.
Empire of The Vampire is a truly dark fantasy book for those adults who enjoy epic and bloody vampire tales.
18| Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake 3) by Victoria Schwab | Published: 2021 | Ghost, Horror Fantasy Novel
Bridge Of Souls is one of the most exciting young adult horror fantasy books of 2021. It’s a spooky, atmospheric book series set in New Orleans that will get you hooked in no time.
In the third book, we follow Cass and Jacob this time in the mysterious and beautiful New Orleans. If you love fantasy travel books and stories with great characters Cassidy’s tale will surely mesmerize you. Cassidy had to deal with many ghosts during her travels but this time she’ll have to deal with death itself.
Bridge Of Souls is a spooky and immensely enjoyable dark horror fantasy book about ghosts and New Orleans for adults and YA readers.
17| The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Ash Parsons, Rachel Hawkins, and Vicky Alvear Shecter | Published: 2021 | Ghost, Horror, Gothic Novel
The Haunting of Beatrix Greene is a fun and quick read perfect for not only bookworms but for those as well who prefer short stories or series over the novels
It has a ghost tv show like format and it reads really well. However, it doesn’t take away anything from its spooky gothic atmosphere.
The story is about Beatrix who is a fake and successful spiritualist. She’s a proud con artist however, everything changes when she’s invited to perform a seance in James Walker’s house.
James is a scientist who built his reputation on discrediting people like Beatrix. Things turn scary when Beatrix’s medium gifts awaken during the seance. They also awaken an evil vengeful spirit who wants to kill them all.
The Haunting of Beatrix Greene is a short, spooky, and fun gothic ghost novel for adults and YA readers.
16| These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong | Published on: 17 November 2020 | YA Historical Fantasy Book
Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delight is about to become one of the biggest fantasy series for sure. For a good reason, every avid reader of historical fiction is restlessly waiting for its release in November 2020.
Shanghai in 1926 was a rather dark place with gangs battling for power. The endless war leaves nothing but blood and terror.
No one would believe but it all revolves around an eighteen-year-old girl, who wants to take on the Scarlet Gang.
Their only true enemy is the White Flowers, whose leader is Juliette Cai’s first love. What is going to be more motivating, love, or the promise of power and wealth? It seems a third will make the two sides get to a consensus; something is lurking in the dark to frighten everyone. Juliette and Roam have to join forces to save their city.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is among the truly frightening dark fantasy books that readers cannot put down.
15| The Black Song: Book Two of Raven’s Blade by Anthony Ryan | Originally published: 28 July 2020 | Dark Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy Book Series
The second book of Anthony Ryan’s Raven’s Blade duology is a superb dark fantasy fiction. It was highly anticipated following the first novel’s success.
Kehlbrand continues his devastating campaign to conquer merchant kingdoms in pursuit of more power and wealth.
No one seems to have what it takes to end his terrible reign, but Vaelin. Or at least many secretly hope in their despair. Vaelin has to pull his troops together while staying away from trouble and remaining in the shadows.
Ryan has a great vision of a land desperate for a hero, with loads of exciting moments and plenty of twists.
You are not going to be able to rest for a moment as the novel is packed with action throughout. If you enjoy high fantasy books, then you have just found your next favorite.
The Black Song by Anthony Ryan is among the most exciting dark fantasy books in 2020 because it is full of action.
14| Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer | Originally published: 3 March 2020 | Dark Young adult fiction, Fantasy Novel
E. Latimer’s second book is going to captivate all lovers of YA dark fantasy books about witches. Readers are about to be taken to a small Irish town, where the old fashioned locals are pretty judgemental.
Dayna is not living the most ideal teenager life, she is struggling with being different in many senses. The bisexual teenager has to cope with OCD and her mother has just returned after many years. Still, having her back is by far not as magical as she has imagined.
All that doesn’t derail Dayna from her ambitions of finally becoming a full witch. Everything turns much darker when another coven known to be pretty violent appears on the scene. We love dark fantasy books with female protagonists and this piece did not disappoint at all. While the novel is full of interesting and sudden turns, readers will find the pace to be perfect.
Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer is certainly among the best new dark LGBT fantasy books.
13| Goblin King: A Permafrost Novel by Kara Barbieri | Published on: 17 November 2020 | Dark Young adult fiction fantasy Novel
If you enjoy weird paranormal dark fantasy romance books, then you must pick Kara Barbiri’s book for sure. It has a very unique dark vibe, that will shake its readers’ worlds in an instant. Nothing is as you expected, so get ready for dark twists.
This mythological fantasy is full of strange struggles and the ones who thought to bring about the end may actually be the key to survival.
Readers got to know Janneke in the first book and her adventures have not yet come to an end. She has realized that a lot rests on her shoulders and it is time to grow up to the task.
These new adventures are not going to be easy for her and she even has to turn to her tormentor, Lydian, to stop the end of the world.
If you’re looking for more dark and adventure-filled new fantasy romance books then check out our other list too.
Goblin King by Kara Barbieri is among the most captivating dark fantasy books for young adults.
12| The Last Ritual: An Arkham Horror Novel by S A Sidor | Published on: 3 November 2020 | Historical mystery fiction, Dark fantasy book
Expected in November 2020, S.A. Sidor’s novel is going to be among the dark fantasy horror books that will cause a few sleepless nights. Readers will be freaking out as the dark world of Arkham is unleashed from the pages.
Step into the shoes of Alden Oakes, an ambitious painter to be. He is invited to join the New Colony, an art society in Arkham.
Lavish gatherings and mind-blowing rituals hosted by the famous Juan Hugo Balthazarr. But soon Alden has to realize; there is much more behind these events than sheer entertainment.
Those creatures thought to be only art are monsters of another world and Balthazarr wants to bring them over.
Is Alden going to be able to stop the celebrated artist from bringing about the apocalypse or is it too late?
The Last Ritual: An Arkham Horror Novel by S. A. Sidor is going to be among the best dark fantasy books for adults.
11| Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark | Published: 13 October 2020 | Science Fiction, Horror fiction, Historical fantasy, Dark fantasy Book
P. Djèlí Clark is a very creative author, whose superb book, The Black God’s Drums we have already included in our collection of Fantasy Books by Black Authors.
Ring Shout is another fantastic example of his great talents, this time he takes on monsters, our heroine calls the Ku Kluxes. In the years of Prohibition Maryse Boudreaux is bravely traveling through Georgia with her companions to push back hatred.
It all started with sorcerer D.W. Griffith’s terrible spell that brought about the darkest hours of America.
There is no doubt it is among the most actual and relevant books as the world is facing issues Ring Shout goes into. It may be a dark historical fantasy novel, but has a lot of meaningful messages for us today.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark is among the most eye-opening dark fantasy books with a female protagonist in 2020.
10| The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee | Originally published: March 2020 | Science Fiction, Young adult Dystopian Fantasy Book
The Feverwake series will soon be mentioned among the best sci-fi fantasy book series because it is perfectly crafted. The world has some good old motifs, while it’s full of new additions. Every reader can find something to like between the lines as Noam Álvaro’s adventures continue.
This brave and virtuous teenager has to realize that his efforts to help remove the oppressing government did not result in the best possible outcome.
The new chancellor is not what he thought to be. Lehrer has made Noam forget some rather incriminating memories, which he remembers now.
But can he avoid being exposed and fight the system once again without ending up badly hurt or dead?
You are in for another fantastic dystopian dark fantasy fiction full of action, mysteries, and twists.
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee is among the most exciting dystopian LGBT novels, and its narrated version is one of the most captivating dark fantasy audiobooks.
9| To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini | Originally published: 15 September 2020 | Science Fiction, Space opera novel
Speaking of amazing dark fantasy audiobooks, Paolini’s new piece is certainly a remarkable material. Fantasy lovers are very much familiar with the author’s works because they have been bringing magic into our world for almost two decades.
This time it is not simply fantasy, but a remarkable science fiction that will take us to space.
In a time, when humanity is exploring space and an endless number of planets await, Kira is out on an expedition. She comes across a mysterious relic that turns out to be much more than a simple fossil.
Kira instantly becomes the only hope for humanity’s survival. As her race’s first meeting with others wasn’t the smoothest, an epic war threatens Earth and its colonies.
In case you don’t feel like reading and would rather listen to this enchanting story you can do so because To Sleep In A Sea of Stars is also one of the best fantasy audiobooks of 2020.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini is amid the best dark fantasy books for adults in 2020 about an epic intergalactic war.
8| The Apprentice In The Master’s Shadow by Ian Gregoire | Originally published: 4 May 2020 | Dark fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, High fantasy Novel
Fortunately, bookworms are well served this year as well because many amazing high fantasy books are published in 2020. Ian Gregoire’s Legends of the Order series is continued and it will not be an easy adventure either.
Kayden Jayta is a very determined and fearless heroine, who is never willing to step back. Actually, for being a favored apprentice of a legend, she feels like living in the shadows. Fired up on that, she sets out on a mission, that will require much more than she has shown so far.
Undoubtedly Kayden is a great protagonist because she is brave and kick-ass, but also has flaws, making her so alive.
Gregoire’s novel is surely among the most captivating dark fantasy books with female protagonists.
The Apprentice In The Master’s Shadow is amid the most remarkable grimdark fantasy books with a kick-ass heroine on an impossible mission.
7| Looking Glass by Christina Henry | Originally published: 21 April 2020 | Fairy tale, Horror fiction, Dark fantasy Book
For lovers of Gothic dark horror stories, Christina Henry’s new collection is a must-read. You are going to find four hair-raising dark fantasy horror novellas, which surely will give you goosebumps.
Sometimes a scary short story can go a long way, especially if they are so well written.
Each of the stories are very deep, and the main characters have their major difficulties that pose troubles.
Secrets, fear and the unknown have very specific effects in life and Henry managed to give them a voice that stays with the readers. This collection is a very captivating book with dark fantasy novellas for adults.
Looking Glass by Christina Henry is a creepy little horror novella collection for adults.
6| The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska | Originally published: 2 June 2020 | LGBTQ+ Young adult fiction Novel
Caldella is threatened by a terrible curse and every year an innocent boy must be sacrificed to keep the tide away from the island.
The witch queen Eva is conceived as an evil ruler, but not everything as they seem.
Although Lina is certain about the young queen’s intentions and does her best to save her little brother. In protection of him, Lina calls on the help of Thomas, with whom she is secretly in love.
There is no time for playing games, the island city has to be protected, so Eva picks Thomas as the sacrifice.
Thanks to that Lina and her get very close and the two have to realize they have misread each other.
But them falling for each other results in tragedy, can they save their home city and remain together?
The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska is among the most surprising LGBT dark fantasy romance books that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
5| Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire | Originally published: 7 January 2020 | Fairy tale, Dark Contemporary fantasy Novel
Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children is among the biggest fantasy series as over the years it gained the admiration of both critics and fans. What makes these books so lovable, is the fact that they are so easy to read, you barely notice you just finished them. Despite their lack of weight, the stories are very much memorable.
Everyone was anxiously waiting for the next chapter in the Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children’s life. Now, we get to meet Jack and her sister, whom she actually murdered.
But death is not always as permanent as we think, especially in their odd world.
When she is brought back to the school, scary changes have gone through in her head. It is terrifyingly difficult to understand and that calls for another epic quest.
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire is another superb addition to the series of dark fantasy books for young adults. It is great for more mature audiences offering a little support for everyone who awre in a dark place now.
4| The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence | Originally published: 21 April 2020 | Dark fantasy High fantasy, Epic Fiction Novel
The first of the Book of Ice series is Mark Lawrence’s new book and is one of the most anticipated dark fantasy fiction books of 2020. It is already being mentioned among the best sci-fi fantasy book series because another incredibly well-crafted universe was created.
Lawrence doesn’t seem to be able to go wrong, whatever he writes turns out to be a masterpiece.
We are taken to Abeth, an icy world, where chances of survival is minimal.
Yaz’ life turns upside down and everything that meant family, home, and safety become her past. Now she has to find a new way to survive. Learn things about her homeworld and herself, she couldn’t have ever imagined.
From the first sentence, readers are sucked into this dark universe and won’t notice the world around them until the last sentence.
If you enjoy listening to your fantasy stories you should check this beguiling dark fantasy novel out since it’s also one of the best new audibooks.
The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence is one of the best dark fantasy books for adults. The protagonist has to leave everything behind and step out into a dangerous environment.
3| The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso | Originally published: 2 June 2020 | Adventure fiction, Historical fantasy, High fantasy Book
Another superb addition to the LGBT dark fantasy world is Melissa Caruso’s starter of her new series. It is so excitingly presented, readers are advised to fasten their seatbelts because it is full of suspense.
Ryx was born into the most prestigious family in Vaskandar, but things don’t work out just as simply. She is supposed to be a strong mage, however, something must have gone wrong. Instead of useful power, she is actually a threat to everyone she touches.
When an important visitor dies at her hands, she has to flee the castle and get things right. But it’s not all; a mysterious artifact was activated in the ancient tower of their castle. Now the clock is ticking and it is up to Ryx to save the world.
The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso is among the most suspenseful dark fantasy books with a female protagonist.
2| The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller | Originally published: 25 February 2020 | Young adult fiction, Fantasy Book
Tricia Levenseller had a pretty interesting vision in a fantasy kingdom. She introduces a young and ambitious female, who is willing to do whatever it takes to get the power she desires.
So meet Alessandra, who knows the best way to gain power is to seduce the king. Then she just has to marry him and when the time comes, kill him.
Now, as one might figure, things don’t happen as simply as one plans them.
First of all, it seems the king is not the most popular ruler, she isn’t the only one with similar plans.
Therefore, it is first up to Alessandra to keep the king alive until they get married. This is where her plans take an unexpected turn and she may have even fallen in love.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller is a very entertaining piece with a new take on the whole king and soon-to-be queen love story. It is among the most entertaining dark fantasy romance books.
1| Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco | Originally published: 24 September 2020 | Young adult fiction, Historical fantasy, Dark fantasy Book
Kingdom of the Wicked is a lush and dark adventure and is one of the best new dark fantasy books for adults and YA readers. It’s beautifully written, the story is creative, exciting, and fast-paced.
It’s a dark tale about witches, demons, and a serial killer who targets witches. The story follows Emilia who is secretly a witch. She discovers her twin sister’s corpse and determines to find her killer even if she’ll have to use dark magic.
During her search for the murderer, she makes some dangerous alliances and falls in love with one of the demon princes.
This beautiful tale has captivating world-building and a unique magical system. Its lush and atmospheric world and unshakable and powerful female lead will get you hooked on page one.
New York Times bestseller Kerri Maniscalco is not going to disappoint fans this time either. It is full of suspense, twists, and will be your new favorite if you love dark romance fantasy books.
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco is a beautiful and terrifying journey of love, vengeance, and dark secrets with witches and demons.
Thank you for reading!