25 Urban Fantasy Books that I recommend

25urbanfantasyEarlier in the week I listened to Galactic Suburbia episode 30 & read Tansy Rayner Roberts’ post “25 Urban Fantasies! (or: The Angry Trousers Treatise)“. This inspired me to make my own list. I didn’t quite agree with Tansy on what urban fantasy list so I made my own post discussing it. My list has a lot of Angry Trousers, but there are also a lot of books that break that trope on the list or don’t even come near it. I like angry trousers protagonists but I also like all kinds of other protagonists. Most of my list is fairly new books with only a few books written before 1990 on there, because I mostly read things available in ebook format. And I didn’t read before 1990, so unless someone recommend something older to me, I have not read it.

25 urban fantasy books that I would recommend

In no particular order

  1. 99386Storm Front by Jim Butcher
    The Dresden Files series
    Setting: Chicago
    Great series with a complex male protagonist who is a sorcerer. The series lends lots of elements from noir detective stories. In the later books the noir feel drifts in the background and the stories becomes more action oriented. There is planed 15 books in this series, the 14 is out and the 15th comes out this December. They are all really good and very much worth reading.
  2. 8496901Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
    October Daye series

    Setting: San Francisco 
    Wonderful series with a determined female protagonist  As I have said before I really like stories of the fay. In the October Daye series McGuire mixes the procedural drama and fay court politics worthy of any political epic fantasy novel. There is backstabbing and intrigue but also strong friendships and loyalty. 
  3. 4407 American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    American Gods series

    Setting: The United States of America
    The gods of old live forgotten and hidden in the United States. I love mythology and mythology integrated in the modern world, even better. The male protagonist is not particularly competent and doesn’t have much agency in the story, and this is my only criticism of this book, the protagonist feels more like a spectator, than a protagonist – but that is typically Gaiman actually.
  4. 10836728The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
    The Checquy Files
    Setting: London
    An agency dedicated to hiding the supernatural from the public and dealing with the problems the supernatural courses. It is very British and it felt very fresh to me. The female protagonist is discovering what her role is and turns out to be very competent at her job. Conspiracies lures around waiting to pounce.
  5. Untitled-10Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
    InCryptid
    Setting: New York
    Kick ass action based story about. Our protagonist keeps the New York supernaturals in check and protects them. The series has a buffy flavour to it and plays with the tropes of urban fantasy and it is very much its own thing. There are a lot of strange monsters I had never heard about before, I think they are probably American legenges rather than European.
  6. 8680417Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
    Peter Grant
    Setting: London
    Police procedural with a strong sense of place. London is almost a character in the book, in much the same way as in Neverwhere. Or male protagonist is at the start of the first novel he is not particularly good at anything but he got a soft hard, but quite a few flaws as well.
  7. 72193Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter
    Setting: England
    Middle grade
    You all know this one, so let me tell you why I think this is urban fantasy. Harry Potter is set in our world, complete with Play Stations and football and everything. Harry discovers a magical world where he finds out he too has powers and he has to hide this from his family in the mundane world. All hallmarks of urban fantasy.
  8. 210331Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
    The Dark is Rising
    Setting: Cornwall
    Middle grade
    This series is part of so many fantasy fan’s childhood that I think many of us don’t think of it as urban fantasy, but it is. The setting is distinctly rural though. Our young male protagonist is the chosen one who has to fight evil to protect all of our from the darkness.
  9. 58077Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
    Harper Connelly
    Setting: Rural American South
    The female protagonist can sense where dead people are. She travels as a private investigator to small towns in the rural American South to help local law enforcement find dead bodies. She travels with her stead brother who is her confidant and assistant. She was hit by lighting and it makes her physically weak but has also given her powers. Unlike most urban fantasy there are not really any supernatural creatures other than ghosts.
  10. 893172The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
    Percy Jackson and the Olympians
    Setting: The United States of America
    Young adult
    Do not judge a book by its movie. This is very much a road trip book where our young male protagonist learns that he is the son of a Greek god and travels the US on a quest. There is also a good amount of boarding school novel in this one (yeah) and of course old mythology which also makes me happy. It is an action packed book series and a lot of fun.
  11. 937122Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin
    Jaz Parks
    Setting:  Miami
    This book is of the angry trousers variety, it is also funny and clever and highly entertaining. Our female protagonist is to use her own words a “Assistant Assassin” and highly skilled and trained working for the C.I.A. This is another agency book but rather than being a procedural this is more of a spy novel. This book series is very much about vampires but other supernaturals makes an appearance as well.
  12. 5552232The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff
    Gale Women
    Setting: Calgary
    This is definitely a hidden gem. I have never heard anyone discuss it and I found it by accident browsing Audible. It has a great magic system and our female protagonist is very likeable. She is dumped in the middle of a magical world that her family is apparently a part of and so is she now. It is very much about family which is nice to see in the genre. The supernaturals are fay, so that of course is a bit plus for me. There are also a nice romance in the book that does not overtake the plot. Read my review here.
  13. 86451Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
    Weather Warden
    Setting: The United States of America
    This is another road trip book. Our female protagonist is strong and capable and is part of an agency that control the weather and natural disasters. She and her genie are on the run across the US. There is a big conspiracy and a big romance which are the anchors of the plot.
  14. 139417A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
    Merry Gentry
    Setting: Los Angeles
    I like the Merry Gentry series better than the Anita Blake series though both are good, Merry Gentry has fays in it and I like the romance better as well. But the Anita Blake books are really good as well, especially the ten or so. The female protagonist is very capable but not very powerful in her society.  Merry has to navigate a world of court politics where everyone else is stronger than her. The first book is a procedural but there mystery elements is not in the forefront of most of the other books in the series. This is very much a paranormal romance series, so if that isn’t your thing, steer clear of this one – I don’t think you will like it. It also have quite explicit sex as part of the plot – I like that and you are now officially warned.
  15. 5585788Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
    Jane Yellowrock
    Setting: New Orleans
    Good solid angry trousers urban fantasy, with a female protagonist that can kick your female protagonist’s ass. She is strong and capable but also have her issue and a very dark past. She is also a native american and that is a big part of her story. She is far from broken but struggles with figuring out how she fits into the world. The books are entertaining, fast paced and action oriented. Oh yeah and the men are hot!
  16. 5618698Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
    Jane Jameson
    Setting: American South, small town
    This is something more light hearted and fun. It is a romantic comedy with vampires and a crazy mundane family who has to come to terms with their daughter being a vampire who is dating a vampire. The protagonist is your typical rom-com protagonist but she is also a book lover so that is a huge plus. The book is sweet and funny and I giggled loud enough for my boyfriend to give me funny looks.
  17. 7951552Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
    Black Swan Rising
    Setting: New York
    This has nothing to do with the Black Swan movie, just to clear that up. The book is quite poetic and is the kind of urban fantasy where the protagonist spend most of her time finding the hidden magical city behind the city she knows so well. The book has a very strong sense of place and the language is beautiful without being too whimsical. The protagonist is a jewelry maker and this is not a procedural novel at all, though there is a mystery.
  18. 235718Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
    Georgina Kincaid
    Setting: Seattle
    The female protagonist is a book store clerk and a succubus and the book has a lot of book love in it. It is a fun and light read. There is a big romance plot. The series is quite entertaining quick reads. They are quite dark in places and there is surprisingly little sex for a succubus book. If you want succubus sex, watch Lost Girl (also quite recommended). There is a cool society of angels and demons in Seattle and lots of fun banter.
  19. 6048518Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland
    Kara Gillian
    Setting: Beaulac, Louisiana
    The female protagonist is a very capable police officer who summons demons in her spare time. She has to hold her own in a male dominated world but has good male friends who has her back. She also have a friendship with another female and a strong relationship with her aunt. There is a good mystery, it is funny, entertaining and has great snark. This is very much in the angry trousers category and it is very good.
  20. 12844699Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
    Magic Ex Libris
    Setting:
    This book has a unique magic system and is a great bit fun adventure story, with some chewy enough bits to keep me interested. Our male protagonist works for an agency/secret organization that works to keep the magic of books under control. The book is entertaining and exciting and quite funny.
  21. 21326Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
    Fables
    Setting: New York
    Graphic Novel
    The fairy tale creatures has escaped their book and are living in New York, where they have their own little society. It is whimsical series that is driven by mystery, character exploration and conspiracy.
  22. 249747Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
    Artemis Fowl
    Setting: Ireland
    Young Adult / middle grade
    The young male protagonist is a genius and a technical prodigy. He sees himself as an evil genius, the mastermind of a criminal empire. He is also a quite broken child, with an insane mother and a father who is missing. The books are funny, entertaining and fast paced. They are aimed at younger readers but they have some quite dark notes and are scary and sad in between all the high action exploding fun.
  23. 30264Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
    The Hollows
    Setting: Cincinnati
    Our female protagonist is a witch and x-law enforcement. She opens up a private investigator firm with her vampire and pixie partners. This is very much in the angry trousers vaine, it even has a horrible cover. The series are page turners and i read all of them in a very short amount of time. The world building is interesting and so is the magic, which involves dealing with demons.
  24. 9640626My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
    White Trash Zombie
    Setting: Outside Louisiana
    Your white trash female protagonist is a bit looser when the book starts out. The book is funny and has a lot of character development throughout the book. It is a good procedural seen from the morgue side of things. I could easily see this as a tv-series.
    Read my full review here.
  25. 855638A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
    Setting: San Francisco
    This is not a series but a stand alone book. In this highly entertaining and funny book our male protagonist is not at all competent at much of anything. He has a big heart and runs a second hand store. He becomes a father to Death. Much of the humor comes from him being incompetent or from silly everyday situations.

That was my 25 books and somehow it wasn’t even hard to choose them – gotta love GoodReads that keeps track of things for me. I hope something on this list strikes you as interesting.

I am wondering why all the middle grade urban fantasy books I like have male protagonists? Any why there are almost no young adult urban fantasy books that I feel like recommending. There is no books set outside of the anglo-saxon world but a few of the books are set outside of USA which is nice. I would love to read some really good urban fantasy set outside the English speaking world. Luckily there should be a Swedish one forthcoming.

Edit 2016: Because this list clearly don’t have enough books (or just because I read a lot more), I made a list of 12 more urban fantasy books that I recommend.

9 thoughts on “25 Urban Fantasy Books that I recommend

    1. I am yet to read Patricia Briggs, but I got her on the list of books that will find their way to my to-read pile at some point. I have read Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series but to me that does not count as Urban Fantasy. However her books are on my Fantasy book’s I recommend series. If I remember correctly.
      But thank you very much for the recommendations! You are my very first commenter!

  1. You have picked the majority of what I have read. You will probably really like Lilith St. Crow’s series for Jill Kismet. Let me know what you think.

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