10 Urban Fantasy Series You Need to Read


Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton // VBCHave you fallen for an urban fantasy series and want more? We’re here to help.

These ten book series epitomize things we love about urban fantasy. They may have influenced the subgenre or they’re the ones every urban fantasy fan has read. These are the books that showcase what we love—and expect—from urban fantasies.

1. Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton

We have to start here. Laurell K. Hamilton was a huge game changer for urban fantasy. She brought us a police procedural—something that is a trope in its own right—with paranormal and fronted the novel with a strong, determined heroine in Anita Blake. The series is on-going, and there’s fervent fan debate regarding the latter books (mostly after Obsidian Butterfly, the ninth novel), but there is no question that these books, starting with Guilty Pleasures, are an urban fantasy must.

2. The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

For the primo example of open world urban fantasy, look no further than Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. Witches, vampires, demons and faeries are all out in the open, and how does that change society? Engaging characters and stellar world building will hook you into this one.

3. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher brings the right tone—you can almost picture Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) wizard private investigator, giving you the side eye—and stakes to this quintessential urban fantasy series. Snark, sidekicks and a healthy dose of supernatural problems make the Dresden Files series a staple.

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill // VBC4. Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill

There are two elements that make Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series a must-read for urban fantasy fans. First, while the series features an open world where everyone knows about vampires, we get to experience it all as though it’s brand new for us. That’s because the main character Merit becomes a vampire in the first book (not a spoiler!), and her journey lets readers experience this world without feeling lost.

Second, Neill has mastered the group dynamic. When it comes to ensemble casts for urban fantasy, there won’t be a character in Merit’s gang you don’t love.

5. Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Looking for strong characters? Patricia Briggs knows how to write them. Her Mercy Thompson series offers mysteries, werewolf pack dynamics and a main character you’ll never want to stop rooting for. The spinoff series are excellent, too.

6. Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

Urban fantasy has always been best as it demonstrated what it means to be “other.” Kelley Armstrong does this beautifully in her Women of the Otherworld series. These books focus on how these supernaturals want nothing more than to be normal, but that isn’t always the answer.

7. October Daye series by Seanan McGuire

The grass isn’t always greener. Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series shows us the cruelty in both the fae and human worlds. The world building is outstanding, and the plot curves will keep you flying through this series.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews8. Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

In urban fantasy things should almost always get worse. Ilona Andrews makes things plenty complicated—and utterly engaging—in the Kate Daniels books. Magic is a great asset, except for when it’s down.  Which weapons do we use and when? Who has the upper hand? Add in a delightful main character and her fantastic relationship with the Beast Lord, and prepare to be sucked in.

9. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

You may have heard others call this series a romance. It often gets shelved there in bookstores, but Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series is brilliant urban fantasy. It just happens to include insane sexual tension. Mac is trying find the person who murder her sister. In doing so she gets wrapped up in a mission to keep the fae world from taking over our own. Kind of a big deal. Great characters, super twisty plot.

10. Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn

Not every urban fantasy has to be heavy or gritty. We’re allowed to have fun. Carrie Vaughn gets that. Her Kitty Norville series has great supernatural mysteries with plenty of action and a healthy dose of irreverence. Fun and totally addictive.

Hit the comments with your essential urban fantasy book recs (because you know 10 isn’t enough!) Also, be sure to tell us if you’d like another list like this that showcases new urban fantasy series to read.

Note: This article was originally published at Heroes & Heartbreakers in 2014. Chelsea is still a huge urban fantasy fangirl (and author), and she still considers these ten books required urban fantasy reading. Though, she could probably give us another twenty must-reads.

Also, she’d love to remind you that her second Soul Charmer novel Rogue Souls is coming out on July 9, 2018, and if you pre-order it the price is only $2.99. (All the cool kids pre-order.)

23 Responses to “10 Urban Fantasy Series You Need to Read”

  1. Jill says:

    Night Huntress by Jeanne Frost

  2. Sue says:

    Have read or am reading all but 6 or 9. Also add, Immortals after Dark by Kresley Cole, Feral Warriors by Pamela Palmer, Breed Warriors by Lara Adrian, Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series’s by Nalini Singh.

    • Guild Hunter is probably one of my favorite series. I just adore Nalini’s characters and world building.

      I’m a huge IAD fan (and definitely rec the audiobooks!), but I think of them as paranormal romance.

  3. Court says:

    Guild Hunter – Nalini Singh
    The Others – Anne Bishop
    Charley Davidson – Darynda Jones
    Fire and Ice and Magical Mayhem – KF Breene
    Alpha & Omega – Patricia Briggs
    Hidden Legacy – Ilona Andrews
    Innkeeper Chronicles – Ilona Andrews
    Alice Worth – Lisa Edmonds
    Psy-Changeling – Nalini Singh (UF & PNR)

    • Margaret says:

      I’m loving Alice Worth! I don’t think I’d think I’d put it on a list of genre-defining series since it’s so new, but I’d definitely recommend it.

      I would add The Others to the list though.

    • Orit Meir says:

      Actually, anything by Ilona Andrews!

  4. Katie says:

    The Fae Chronicles by Amelia Hutchins!

  5. snapdragon says:

    Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne
    Jim Butchers Harry Dresden Series
    The SPI Files by Lisa Shearin
    Shelly Laurenston and her Pride Series
    Gini Koch and her Katherine “Kitty” Katt series
    Elizabeth Hunter and the Elemental Series
    And of course – J.D. Robb’s In Death Series

  6. Terry says:

    Thanks for this. Bought the first books for Anita Blake and Kitty Norville; looking for something new to read as I sadly await the conclusion to KD.

  7. Evelyn says:

    Can’t forget Jane Yellowrock series. “Have Stakes will Travel”

  8. Shannon says:

    The Sookie Stackhouse series is what started my love of Urban Fantasy… Sadly I stopped reading after book 11. But by then I was hooked on the genre.

  9. Dawn Roberto says:

    Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne
    Otherworld Series by Yasmine Galenorn
    The Wild Hunt Series by Yasmine Galenorn
    Bewitching Bedlam Series by Yasmine Galenorn
    Fury Series by Yasmine Galenorn
    Year One trilogy by Nora Roberts
    Lupi series by Eileem Wilkes

  10. Liz S says:

    If you like the Dresden series by Jim Butcher, try the Alex Versus series by Benedict Jacka.

    Highly recommend The Others series by Anne Bishop.

    Ghost Walker series by Christine Feehan

  11. Brenda R says:

    The Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter is my favorite.

  12. I’ve read the two first of Dresden Files and I loved them.

  13. Jan says:

    In no particular order :-
    Jane Yellowrock. – Faith Hunter
    Soulwood series. – Faith Hunter
    Guild hunter. – Nalini Singh
    Black dagger brotherhood. – J.R. Ward
    The Others – Anne Bishop
    Kate Daniels – Ilona Andrews
    The Hollows – Kim Harrison
    Night Prince. – Jeaniene Frost
    Merry Gentry – Laurel K Hamilton
    Gin Blanco – Jennifer Estep.
    These are the series I read over and over again.

  14. Diane_D says:

    Mercy, Kate, and Harry, plus Toby and Kitty, and Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld, are all among my favorites! Others I might add include C.E. Murphy’s Joanne Walker (the Walker Papers), Eileen Wilks’s World of the Lupi, and Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus.

    • Diane_D says:

      Oh, good grief, I left out Anne Bishop’s The Others, and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock plus her Soulwood spinoff series.
      I also must comment that while Ilona Andrews’s other brilliant series don’t connect w/the KD World, your entry for the Mercy-Thompson-verse could and should mention the Alpha & Omega books by name (series title), too.

  15. Brannon McCullough says:

    I love most of the recommendations I’ve seen in the comments, but was surprised to not see anyone mention Simon R. Green’s “Nightside” series. Really one of the more unique urban fantasy settings I’ve read and enjoyed.

  16. DC says:

    Ugh. My baby Anita-the character that really sparked my reading of all things Urban Fantasy. The series should have ended books ago! I wanted her to go out on top!

  17. Don says:

    some great urban fantasy that i havent seen mentioned (but are in much the same vein as Dresden and the Iron Druid)
    Junkyard Druid by MD Massey
    Nate Temple series by Shayne Silvers (in addition to the spin off series in same universe Feathers & Fire and Phantom Queen Diaries)

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