Urban Fantasy is one of the great genres of our time. Twilight, ShadowHunters and The Vampire Diaries have all become huge franchises that, even if you don’t enjoy, we can all recognise that they have been wildly successful.
The urban fantasy fandoms tend to ‘war’ a lot. Everyone’s convinced that their authorlord is the one to rule them all and that their version of urban fantasy is the only good one. I say version because urban fantasy, whilst being a subgenre, has even more subgenres within it. The most common ones that you will encounter are:
YA (Young Adult)
I don’t use cliche as a negative term, sometimes all we want is a familiar story where we know the main characters will get their happily ever after. I say all of this as a kind of warning that there are many facets of urban fantasy that you will see on this list and even though you may disagree with one or two of them for whatever reason, they are assuredly part of the urban fantasy genre.
Kicking off the list with my favourite book series, The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews. If you’re looking for a completed series full of diverse characters, a badass female mc, slow-burn romance, and a brilliant ending. This is a unique series where the mc, Kate, a badass mercenary with a suspicious past fights her way through bigger and bigger big bads. A big theme is found family and I just love it so much. Cannot recommend it more if you’re looking for a deep set urban fantasy to sink your teeth into.
Another cult classic, The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs has long been one of the top recommendations whenever it comes to urban fantasy. Taking place more centred in our world than The Kate Daniels Series, it fast became a classic of the genre. As far as I’m aware, the series is not yet finished and has also spawned a few spinoffs which may or may not have made it onto the list. I am going to give you a sexual assault trigger warning for this series. It’s not a regular occurrence and it’s dealt with as respectfully as possible, but it did come as a bit of a shock to me and other fans that I’ve spoken to.
But if you love werewolves and Native American mythology, you’re bound to love this series!
Sadly in 2021, we lost Rachel Caine to cancer. Her family is still paying for medical bills so if you can, buy these books new as it will help them out and you’ll get a lovely new book.
The Morganville Series follows Claire, an undergrad student at a university in a small, isolated town in the middle of Texas. She soon finds out that things are not all they seem and has to fight to save herself and her friends from vampiric undeath. This is definitely a YA series, but it’s so good. I remember reading parts of it and my jaw dropping from how surprising the story was and how excited I was to continue onto the next book.
This is a completed series which I’m sure most of you will love but I will preface this by saying that I only liked the first 7 books. There are 15 in the series, and maybe I need to give the rest another try, but the series feels very much like Supernatural. The original story was meant to be the first 7 and then the rest just don’t quite match the glory.
Definitely try the first 7 though, so worth the read!
Probably one of the most controversial entries on this list, but since some of the series does take place in our world and there is an established magical presence in our world, I’m counting it as urban fantasy. It is very high fantasy heavy in places though so if you’re not a fan of high fantasy, you might want to pass this one, but you’d be really missing out!
I was a bit sceptical about reading this series as it was so hyped up on BookTok that I just didn’t believe that it could possibly live up to it. Contrary to popular belief, I can admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong about this. The Cruel Prince is an amazing trilogy and I urged all fantasy fans to read it. The last book was a tad predictable, but I find it fun to guess the plots and guessing it didn't detract from how beautiful the writing and the characters are.
I think this series leans a bit into the cliche category of urban fantasy but I also think that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s just so much fun to read you can truly enjoy it without anything too horrific happening to the characters because you know that they’ll get their HEA. It’s definitely an 18+ series with some very fruity language in the first book, and as an English person, I object to how many times Bones, the English paramore, says ‘bloody’. If you can get over the horrific ‘English’ dialogue, the series is a great and fun read for anybody looking for a good time.
Yes, there will be some repeat authors on here and I make no apologies. The Innkeeper series is by far the most unique and one of the most beautifully written series on this list! The Andrews writing team take the concept of vampires and werewolves and meld it expertly with sci fi. I cannot hype this series up enough, everyone should read and enjoy it!
As if this couldn't get any better, this series started as a free serial on their blog where they released part of a chapter each week! If you're quick to read the previous entries into the series, they've started the next one already!
For a series about a succubus and her demon friends, this is relatively tame. The spicy scenes are pretty much fade to black and most demonic/horrific stuff is kept to a minimum. This series is fun in a surprising way. Hell is like an office and Georgia has a requirement of souls to attain as part of her quota. Her ‘supervisor’ Jerome is a fiery demon with an angel for a best friend, it’s all very cute. The Georgia Kinkaid series definitely leans into paranormal romance as well as urban fantasy but it’s definitely worth a read.
A shameless plug here, but I couldn’t make a list about the top 15 urban fantasy book series without recommending our very own Rune Caster Chronicles. A new series with the third book set to release November 2022, Ortega is bringing a new style to the genre. The Rune Caster Chronicles has a grittier vibe, feeling reminiscent of old school detective fiction.
If you’re looking for a male mc who is relatively in touch with his feelings and just working towards keeping his life as quiet as possible, then you’ll love Nathan. You also can’t miss out on meeting fan favourite and eternally sassy Sabine, Nathan companion beagle and bestie.
I struggle to write this because there is just so many things I love about this series that my brain freezes as it struggles to process just how many awesome things happen. This is definitely a character-driven read, there are so many characters to love and some to hate that if you like urban fantasy with the vibe of The Witcher and sarcastic protagonists, then you’ll love The Rune Caster Chronicles.
9. The House of Night Series - P. C. Cast
This series was huge in the 2010s when Twilight was dominating the box office and bestseller lists. House of Night is a relatively cliche YA about vampires but with a really interesting premise. It is a bit juvenile and, looking back now, there is a grooming plotline in book 2, but it’s definitely a cult classic of the genre.
10. The Otherworld Series - Kelly Armstrong
By far the longest series on this list, The Otherworld Series by Kelly Armstrong is great if you’re looking for an investment read. The first book, Bitten, has a very cliche premise. Eleanor is the only female werewolf in the world and everyone wants her blah, blah, blah, but it really is quite fun to read. But as the series progresses, we are introduced to so many interesting characters that get their own books that it’s definitely worth the time.
11. Vampire Academy - Richelle Meade
This one brings back so many memories. I remember reading this when I was about 16 and being obsessed. It is so good and I can still read it today at 24! There are two standout books in the series, Frostbite and Blood Promise, they are definitely ones to look forward to when starting this series. Keep in mind that this is a slightly cliche YA that pulls from Eastern European folklore when it comes to vampires, or should I say, damphirs and strigoi (I still cannot pronounce these words and my brain refuses to try). If you like the dark academia vibe, forbidden romance (forbidden for a good reason but still you ship it) and just overall a badass female mc, then you should really give this series a go!
12. The Fallen - Thomas E. Sniegoski
Ah, Aaron, we meet again. Aaron was my first book crush. A morally astute nephilim who has a very good boy best friend called Gabriel who happens to be a golden retriever. This series is just so good and slightly different from the rest on this list as the mythos surrounds angels and demons as opposed to vampires, werewolves etc. Be careful not to confuse this series with Fallen by Lauren Kate which is similarly about angels and Nephilim but is more YA and hardcore in the dark academia section.
13. Alpha and Omega - Patricia Briggs
Considering how tame the Mercy Thompson series is, it was a bit of a shock reading this one. I can’t remember the first book being too smutty but the second one definitely steps it up a notch. There is nothing slow burn about any of the romances in this series or this world but this is pretty full. The romance and the relationship between the two main characters, Anna and Charles, is the core of the story. Another trigger warning for this series as Ana comes from a rather traumatic background.
14. Hidden legacy - Ilona Andrews
Keeping up with the romance theme, the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews is some of their most popular work. It’s a unique premise with a relatively cliche plot. We know the mc’s are going to get their HEA but there are some twists and turns along the way. This series is perfect when you’re looking for an interesting comfort read to curl up with and leave with a smile on your face.
15. The Kitty Norville series - Carrie Vaughn
This is a series that I haven’t read in a while and that I can’t remember too well either, but I remember loving it! The only reason I didn’t continue with it was that I was a broke student and couldn’t keep buying books that weren’t uni books. Now I’m just a broke adult with a great taste in books.
This is definitely more unique. Kitty is a werewolf (her world doesn’t know that werewolves exist) who hosts a midnight radio show and shenanigans ensue. I’ll definitely be adding this series to my 2022 tbr and you should too!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading and let me know in the comments which books you think should have made this list!