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Best Dark Fantasy Books

Venture into realms where magic meets grim reality. These are the critically acclaimed dark fantasy books, ranked by frequency of recommendation by key players in the fantasy book community.

Recommendations from 32 articles, Elon Musk, Emma Watson, Joel McHale and 25 others.
59 books on the list
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The Gunslinger book cover
The Gunslinger
Stephen King - 2003-07-01 (first published in 1982)
Goodreads Rating
Follow Roland Deschain, the enigmatic hero of Stephen King's magnum opus, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland leaves nothing but death in his wake. "The Gunslinger" is an epic work of fantasy, infused with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters. Experience this visionary feat of storytelling, now expanded and revised by King himself.
Prince of Thorns book cover
Prince of Thorns
Mark Lawrence - 2011-08-02
Goodreads Rating
Amidst a world in chaos, with violence and nightmares everywhere, follow the story of Jorg Ancrath as he transforms from a privileged royal to the leader of a band of outlaws known as the "Prince of Thorns". With the ability to master the living and the dead, Jorg faces his childhood horrors and carves out a path to the throne. A tale of blood, treachery, and brotherhood, this debut novel by Mark Lawrence is both compelling and brutal, with unexpected twists and moments of beauty.
The Blade Itself book cover
The Blade Itself
Joe Abercrombie - 2007-03-08 (first published in 2006)
Goodreads Rating
This gritty debut novel from a bestselling author follows the intertwined stories of a barbarian, a nobleman, and an inquisitor as they navigate a world on the brink of war. With a cast of unforgettable characters and a sharp, witty tone, this noir fantasy is not to be missed.
Recommended by
Joel McHale
The Warded Man book cover
The Warded Man
Book One of The Demon Cycle
Peter V. Brett - 2009-03-10 (first published in 2008)
Goodreads Rating
Discover a world where demons with supernatural powers rise as darkness falls. For hundreds of years, they have terrorized humanity, culling them behind fragile magical wards. But three young survivors of vicious demon attacks refuse to give up hope. They embark on a daring quest to regain the lost secrets of the past and stand against the night. Will they succeed? Find out in this gripping fantasy novel.
The Way of Shadows book cover
The Way of Shadows
The Night Angel Trilogy
Brent Weeks - 2008-10-01
Goodreads Rating
This book follows Durzo Blint, the city's top assassin, and Azoth, a guild rat who apprentices under him. Azoth must leave his old life behind and adopt a new identity to be accepted into the world of assassins. With dangerous politics and strange magics at play, Kylar Stern must learn to navigate this world and cultivate his own deadly skills.
The Young Elites book cover
The Young Elites
Marie Lu - 2014-10-07
Goodreads Rating
Survivors of a deadly blood fever are left with powerful gifts, marked as The Young Elites. But they must hide from The Inquisition Axis who aim to destroy them. Adelina Amouteru just wants to be left alone, but her extraordinary powers and fierce nature make her a dangerous target. Discover the thrilling story of The Young Elites.
Three Dark Crowns book cover
Three Dark Crowns
Kendare Blake - 2016-09-20
Goodreads Rating
On the island of Fennbirn, triplet queens are born with coveted magical abilities - Mirabella can command flames and storms, Katharine can withstand any poison, and Arsinoe can control nature's wildest creatures. But only one can become the Queen Crowned. Their battle for the crown is a fight to the death, with royal birth alone not enough to secure the throne. Startlingly original and full of intrigue, this novel follows the sisters as they fight for the ultimate prize.
Recommended by
Amanda Lovelace
A Game of Thrones book cover
A Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin - 2005-08-01 (first published in 1996)
Goodreads Rating
A world of magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure awaits in this modern fantasy masterpiece. The first volume of an epic series, this tale of lords, ladies, soldiers, and sorcerers features the harsh Starks of Winterfell at its center, surrounded by supernatural forces massing beyond the protective Wall. As winter looms and conflict brews, characters traverse a land of extremes and undertake dangerous journeys, all for the ultimate prize: the game of thrones.
Recommended by
Elon Musk
Coraline book cover
Neil Gaiman - 2006-08-29 (first published in 2002)
Goodreads Rating
Explore a mysterious parallel world with Coraline, as she discovers a house similar to her own but with twisted secrets. An alternate mother and father want her to stay and never let her go, forcing her to use her bravery and smarts to escape their grasp. This classic young reader's book, with a brand-new foreword from the author, celebrates ten years of captivating readers with its haunting story of escape and survival.
Recommended by
Simon Smith
Mistborn book cover
The Final Empire (Mistborn (1))
Brandon Sanderson - 2006-07-17
Goodreads Rating
In a world where darkness reigns, criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches a young urchin the magic of metals. Their mission: to take down the tyrant Lord Ruler and restore life to their ash-filled land. But as their plan takes shape, the unlikely heroine is faced with a new distraction - a wealthy young man named Elend. Will their thieving crew succeed, or will evil continue to cloak the land?
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
The Black Company by Glen Cook
Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
Gild by Raven Kennedy
One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
Midnight Tides - A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
Last Argument Of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Theft of Swords, Vol. 1 by Michael J. Sullivan
King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
The Pariah by Anthony Ryan
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Angelfall by Susan Ee
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
King of the Dark by Ariana Nash
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Monstress Volume 1 by Marjorie Liu
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Never Die by Rob J Hayes
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker
Elric by Michael Moorcock
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
The Bone Ships by RJ Barker
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Beyond Redemption by Michael R Fletcher
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
Sabriel by Garth Nix
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
A Woman of the Sword by Anna Smith Spark
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi