Last Updated on November 30, 2023 by Jella Erhard
Fantasy books have always transported their readers to wondrous 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.
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 the highest-rated dark novels to the most beloved new dark fantasy books you’ll find here something deliciously dark to fall 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.
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 find here a few reads you won’t be able to put down easily.
Ever been drawn to the shadowy corners of stories, where light meets dark and the fantastical dances with the eerie? Welcome to the world of adult dark fantasy.
This genre isn’t just your bedtime fairy tale; it’s where compelling characters—think immortal ringmasters, cursed elves, and magical misfits—navigate twisted realms.
Expect tales steeped in enchantment, yet tinged with moral quandaries and the haunting unknown. For those seeking more than just a sprinkle of pixie dust, dark fantasy offers a deep dive into realms where magic meets malice, and where every adventure promises a blend of wonder and wickedness. So, lantern in hand, are you ready to explore?
Must-Read New Dark Fantasy Books For Adults & YA Readers
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26| Thick as Thieves by M. J. Kuhn
- Publication Year: July 2023
- Genres: Dark Fantasy, Heist, Adventure
In the mystical land of Thamorr, Ryia Cautella, better known for her dark moniker “the Butcher of Carrowick”, and her eclectic crew have just pulled off the heist of the century.
Yet, the stakes spike when the menacing Callum Clem, leader of the notorious Saints, gains a game-changing artifact—controlling magic-wielding Adepts.
As their team splinters across the five kingdoms, and loyalties start to blur, the odds look grim. But is Ryia ready to unite her team for one final gamble to reclaim Thamorr?
Thick As Thieves is set in a richly woven world of magic, shifting allegiances, and high stakes. It’s perfect for readers craving a dark fantasy filled with thrilling heists and intricate power struggles.
25| Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire
- Publication Year: 2023
- Genres: Adult Dark Urban Fantasy
From the acclaimed mind of Seanan McGuire, comes a gripping standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series. Lost in the Moment and Found takes us to a fantastical shop—where missing socks and long-forgotten toys find solace.
However, for young Antoinette, her loss is profound. Not of trivial items, but her father. An unexpected turn sees “Antsy” misplaced within the myriad of the shop’s doors. But the exit isn’t easy; each door demands its toll. Can she navigate this labyrinth and what cost will she bear?
For those yearning for an urban fantasy reflecting on lost innocence and the complexities of childhood, McGuire’s creation offers an enchanting yet haunting journey.
24| The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw
- Publication Year: 2023
- Genres: Adult Horror Dark Fantasy
Cassandra Khaw, a USA Today bestselling sensation, crafts a chillingly twisted tale in The Salt Grows Heavy. Think you know your fairytales? Think again. This isn’t your classic mermaid-prince love story; it’s darker, deeper, and definitely toothier.
After her daughters lay the kingdom to waste, our mermaid protagonist finds herself fleeing alongside a shadow-laden plague doctor.
Their refuge? An uncanny forest, home to bloodthirsty ageless children and their sinister ‘saint’ overseers. To outlive this grim fable, both the mermaid and the doctor must confront and harness their darkest instincts.
For those drawn to haunting tales that reimagine classic narratives, Khaw’s The Salt Grows Heavy presents a deliciously dark dive into the abyss of self and myth.
23| The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland
- Publication Year: 2023
- Genres: Adult Dark Fantasy
Jacqueline Holland weaves an entrancing tapestry of time, love, and myth in her debut novel, “The God of Endings.” Set against the nostalgic backdrop of 1984’s upstate New York, we meet Collette LeSange—a timeless beauty running an elite arts school.
But behind her ageless allure lies a haunting secret: a centuries-old burden borne from her grandfather’s gift (or curse) of immortality.
Just when Collette believes she’s achieved a semblance of peace, her world quakes: a prodigious child enters her life, a shadow from her past resurfaces, and an inexplicable hunger awakens within her.
For those craving a blend of historical allure and mythical intrigue, Holland’s novel promises a journey through the eyes of an immortal seeking love, purpose, and resolution.
22| Mountains Made of Glass by Scarlett St. Clair
- Publication Year: 2023
- Genres: Adult Dark Fantasy Retelling
Dive into the enchanting realm of “Mountains Made of Glass,” a masterful retelling by Scarlett St. Clair. In the cursed village of Elk, Gesela stands at destiny’s crossroads when she’s tasked to end the life of a toad—only to unveil an Elven prince beneath the spell.
Retribution swiftly follows as she’s exiled to the domain of the prince’s seventh sibling, known dreadfully as “the beast”. Contrary to her expectations, the beast is no monster but a bewitching figure proposing a challenge: identify his true name in seven days and earn her freedom.
Yet, the true test lies deeper, in the heart. Can love and liberation find a voice amidst the ensnaring spells?
If you are looking for more spicy and dark new fae books then this is a great choice for you.
For lovers of dark retellings and romantic quests, this tale spins an enthralling web of magic, mystery, and emotions.
21| The First Bright Thing by J. R. Dawson
- Publication Year: 2023
- Genres: Adult Dark Fantasy Historical
Step right up and witness the magic of “The First Bright Thing” by J.R. Dawson. In a world bearing the scars of World War I, the Circus of the Fantasticals offers a gleaming refuge. At its helm is Ringmaster Rin, a time-traveler, and her trapeze artist wife, Odette.
Together, they provide a sanctuary for the Sparks—magical outcasts and misfits. But as they journey through the midwest, dark clouds gather.
An imminent war looms in the future and shadows from Rin’s past are closing in—especially one, a rival circus with tents dark as the night and a ringmaster hungry for a power only Rin’s circus possesses.
For fans of historical fantasy, Dawson’s tale marries the spectacle of circus life with impending doom, creating a riveting narrative that’s both magical and haunting.
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.
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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.
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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.
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 oppressive 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.
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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. 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 among the most remarkable grimdark fantasy books with a kick-ass heroine on an impossible mission.
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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 it seems.
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.
You might also like: Best New Books About Witches & Magic
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.
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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.
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