Urban Fantasy Recommendation Masterpost
This is a list of the urban fantasies I’ve enjoyed most over the years, split down a few lines and to be updated as I discover new series. I’m also including contemporary fantasies because the lines often blur. Hope you find something you like on it!
$ for LGBT characters
£ for characters of colour
€ for characters with disabilities
(all based on my slightly spotty memory, so feel free to correct if I’ve missed something)
or stories that spend most of their time steeping you in the magical world
American Gods - Neil Gaiman £
Shadow Moon gets out of jail and is hired by the cagey Mr. Wednesday to … he’s not really clear, honestly, but it puts him in the path of people who may or may not be gods. Multiple mythologies.
Among Others - Jo Walton
A 1980s teen flees her troubled home in Wales to get to know her birth father and attend an English boarding school. Is her mother’s family able to work magic or is it just wishful thinking? Reading science fiction might give her the answers. British folklore and faeries, and a very interesting take on magic.
The Boggart - Susan Cooper
A Canadian family inherits a Scottish castle inhabited by a mischievous boggart—who then stows away and finds himself in Toronto. Scottish folklore.
The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell £
The life of a woman from teen-hood to old age as she lives her life and occasionally intersects with an ancient war between good and evil, fought with telepathy and other things that look a lot like magic.
the Dark is Rising series - Susan Cooper €
A group of English kids—four siblings, a seventh son, and a boy who might be a reincarnated Arthur—versus the forces of darkness. Five books, only the last of which includes all the kids. Cornish and English folklores, Arthuriana.
Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips
The Greek pantheon now lives in North London and is as dysfunctional as ever. Artemis walks dogs. Aphrodite does phone sex. Apollo is a washed-out TV psychic who’s just fallen, via Eros, for the cleaning lady—who’s trying to date someone else, thank you very much. Greek mythology.
The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker £
A golem and a jinni both find themselves in turn-of-the-century New York, both literally and figuratively. A beautiful exploration of the immigrant experience, friendship, and identity. Jewish and Arabic folklore.
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
A mostly-good angel and slightly-wicked demon discover they’ve been training the wrong Antichrist days before the scheduled apocalypse. The real Antichrist wants a dog and to save the whales. Also features a legacy witch, a rookie witch-finder, the Four Horsemen, the Four Other Horsemen, Satanic nuns, and a Queen soundtrack. Christian mythology.
The Hunter’s Moon - O.R. Melling
A Canadian teen visiting her Irish cousin ends up mounting a cross-country road trip to retrieve her cousin who’s run off with the faeries. Irish mythology.
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman £
Richard Mayhew has it all: a good job, a hot fiancée, a nice flat. Then he helps an apparently homeless girl with the power to create doors and is pulled into the magical community below London. Nothing will ever be the same.
Of Blood and Honey and And Blue Skies From Pain - Stina Leicht
It’s tough, living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and Liam finds it harder than most. No one trusts him, he can’t find work, everyone wants him to choose a side, and to cap it off, he feels like a monster is inside him and knows something inhuman is stalking him and his. The war between the Fey and the Fallen is heating up, and the only people keeping peace are an order of priests—who also, surprise, want Liam’s help. Irish and Christian mythology.
Sunshine - Robin McKinley
Rae is a baker. Tough and practical and smart, but a baker. Who’s just rescued herself and a vampire from captivity using magic she’d half-forgotten she had. Unfortunately, the master vampire’s still after them, the magical police know something’s up, and she just wants to keep being normal. Includes mild, realistic PTSD and a whole lot of delicious desserts.
Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay
Ned Marriner’s tagging along with his photographer dad to Provence when he begins to notice magic awakening around him. There’s an ancient love triangle that‘s repeated throughout history, using contemporary locals as proxies—and it’s very interested in Ned, his new friend Kate, and his father’s entourage.
or stories that spend most of their time solving a magical crime
the Blood series - Tanya Huff $£€
Vicky Nelson is the pinnacle of the tough, no-nonsense PI—which poses a bit of a problem when she’s hired to catch a “vampire” on the streets of Toronto and then actually meets one. (He writes romance novels.)
Borderline - Mishell Baker $£€
Millie’s nearly broke, scarred, a double amputee, mentally ill, and Done with all the BS around that. She’s also despairing of ever resuming her directing career, so when a mysterious woman offers her a job with her temp agency, she’s intrigued. What wasn’t mentioned? She’ll actually be an immigration agent working with the Fae of Hollywood, and one of them’s just gone missing.
the Felix Castor series - Mike Carey $
Felix Castor is an exorcist. A hard-drinking, down-at-the-heels exorcist in a London brimming with ghosts and demons. Unfortunately, he never seems to get the easy cases where he can just waltz in and play a tune—and his past mistakes might be coming back to haunt him.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul - Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently solves mysteries by wandering around, getting into strange situations, and then connecting dots no one believes even exist. Like time traveling robots and Romantic poets, or rampaging eagles and mold-ridden refrigerators.
The Grendel Affair - Lisa Shearin £
Makenna Fraser is a seer working for Supernatural Protection and Investigations in New York. “Seer” meaning she can spot the ghoulies and ghosties few people can, including her coworkers. When an off-the-books gnome removal turns into a blood-soaked crime scene, she and her partner are handed the case—but will her eagerness to prove herself just land her in hotter water?
the Greywalker series - Kat Richardson $£
Harper Blaine prides herself on rationality and unflappability, but after briefly dying on a case, she’s suddenly wrong-footed and seeing ghosts everywhere. In the middle of all that, she’s hired by a mysterious voice to track down an organ that’s more than it seems, and suddenly haunted street corners are the least of her problems.
the Olympus Bound series - Jordanna Max Brodsky $£
Selene di Silva’s been keeping her head down for a long time, shutting herself off not just from New York, but from the world. (Being a former goddess will do that.) But then she stumbles on the body of a woman who’s been ritually sacrificed and her past as Artemis comes rising up again. Greek and Roman mythology
the Incryptid series - Seanan McGuire $£
Meet the Price family, a close-knit group of cryptozoologists whose mission is to protect and preserve endangered cryptids like dragons, gorgons, and the religious Aeslin mice from humans. They’re also hiding from the Covenant of St. George, a.k.a. why the cryptids are endangered in the first place. Technically paranormal romance.
the Iron Druid series - Kevin Hearne £
Atticus O’Sullivan is a herbalist and seller of New Age paraphernalia by day, two-thousand-year-old druid by night. He thought moving to Arizona would keep him safe from gods bent on revenge. He thought wrong. Multiple mythologies.
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge - Paul Krueger $£€
Bailey Chen is fresh out of business school, broke, and living with her parents. When a childhood friend offers her a job as a barback, she takes it as a stopgap—but then she discovers the secret cabal of bartenders who fight demons using magical cocktails and after that, there’s no looking back.
Moonshine - Alaya Johnson £
Zephyr Hollis, a charity worker and ESL teacher in 1920s New York, and therefore flat broke, takes a side job from a student, Amir, without asking questions. But will the vampire mob, the drug-crazed vamps, Amir’s literal smoking hotness, or her family history do her in first?
Night Owls - Lauren M. Roy $
Valerie is a vampire with a successful campus bookstore. Elly grew up fighting monsters and fearing for her life. When their paths collide via a book in Elly’s keeping, they must unite to prevent said monsters from unleashing hell and then some.
the October Daye series - Seanan McGuire $£€
Toby Daye wants sleep, coffee, and for everyone to leave her alone already—not necessarily in that order. Unfortunately, as a changeling Knight and PI with a knack of finding people and solving problems with maximum chaos, none of those things will ever be easy to come by. Multiple folklores.
the Rivers of London series - Ben Aaronovitch $£€
When Constable Peter Grant meets a ghost at a crime scene, it’s only logical for him to take a witness statement. When DCI Thomas Nightingale learns of this, he offers him a job as
an auror the sorcerer’s apprenticea valued member of a magically-focused police unit. London, its river goddesses, various magic workers, assorted Fae, and the Metropolitan Police will never be the same.
the Shadow Police series - Paul Cornell $£
Following the mysterious death of a suspect, four Metropolitan Police officers are drawn into London’s sinister magical underworld in their hunt for a killer.
the Smoke series - Tanya Huff $£
Tony Foster’s found his footing as a PA on a Vancouver-shot vampire show. Unfortunately, the paranormal weirdness that is his life continues and it’s somehow up to him to save the day.
Unholy Ghosts (and following) - Stacia Kane £
Chess Putnam works as a Church exorcist, partly out of obligation and partly for the pay, which goes to fuel her drug addiction. Unfortunately, no ghosts are nice ghosts and her private life keeps intruding on her cases.
the Watch novels - Terry Pratchett
Ankh-Morpork is the citiest of fantasy cities. Its City Watch is a bunch of misfits. Sam Vimes isn’t putting up with any nonsense. Somehow, they fight crime.
Zoo City - Lauren Beukes £
Zinzi December is a con artist and occasional finder of lost things who lives in the Johannesburg slums with her sloth familiar. Her latest case? Find a pair of missing teen pop stars—before the apparent assassins do.