Everyone loves a good rom-com, but you can’t stick with the light side forever. Fortunately, we have your back with a series of novels with mystery, supernatural machinations, and of course, plenty of romance.
Give in to desire and come to the dark side with these twenty best dark fantasy romance books—and be prepared for these brooding heroes and darkly enchanting settings to sweep you off your feet.
King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair
If you like your romance with a side of murder, look to Scarlett St. Clair’s King of Battle and Blood.
Isolde de Lara and the vampire king Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev take enemies-to-lovers to another level: Isolde plans to assassinate Adrian on their wedding day, but when she fails, she is forced to remain in the marriage. If she doesn’t, Adrian will make her a vampire, the thing she hates most. Yet hatred is challenged when chemistry smolders between the pair.
Follow the bloody affair when you grab your copy here.
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Second Daughters serve as sacrifices for the Wolf, a desperate trade for the forest’s captured gods. Red knows her fate, yet when she leaves her woods, she sees not all she has been told is true. At Wolf’s side, Red must learn to wield her wild magic and prevent the now-evil gods from wreaking havoc on her world.
With eldritch forest monsters and magical politics, For the Wolf is a sensational dark fantasy debut that promises more to come.
Begin Red and Wolf’s story here.
The Book of Azrael by Amber Nicole
At over 800 pages, The Book of Azrael is an enemies-to-lovers epic about gods and shady deals that puts the slow in slow burn.
A millennia ago, Dianna bargained with a loathsome monster to save her sister’s life. The World Ender—once Samkiel, now Liam—now walks a forbidden realm together. The two are sworn enemies, but now, they must work together to save not only their realm but all others as well.
Be sure to pick up your copy here.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Naomi Novik’s Uprooted reads like an eerie fairy tale and draws upon fresh yet familiar tropes to create an unforgettable story.
In a quiet village, Agnieszka is worried her closest friend—beautiful, kind Kasia—will be chosen as a sacrifice for the Dragon: the cold, terrible wizard who keeps the darkness at bay. Yet her fear is misplaced. When the selection occurs, it won’t be Kasia who must venture into the vicious woods beyond the village.
Discover Agnieszka’s fate when you find Uprooted here.
Daughter of No Worlds by Carissa Broadbent
When Tisaanah’s plans to earn her freedom go awry, she turns to the Orders, a group of the world’s most powerful dark sorcerers. To join the Orders. Tisaanah must apprentice with Maxantarius Farlione, a devilish fire wielder who hates the organization. As war looms and Tisaanah and Maxantarius’ chemistry sparks, Tisaanah finds herself torn between salvation and sacrifice.
Dark and passionate, Daughter of No Worlds sizzles with romance and betrayal.
Pick up your copy here.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Duty and destiny tangle in this seductive story of a woman with the world on her shoulders. Maiden Poppy is supposed to live a solitary life, yet an honor guard tempts her to abandon it and forces her to question all she knows. And in the face of the gods and a bloody threat, Poppy must decide if she favors her guard or her duty.
Follow Poppy’s tale when you grab From Blood and Ash here.
City of Dusk by Tara Sim
Descend into a world of bloodthirsty gods and traitorous heirs in Tara Sim’s City of Dusk.
Within four realms—Light, Death, Life, and Darkness—there are gods and heirs. When the gods withdraw and leave the realms in crisis, the heirs take matters into their own hands. What will happen when the elementalist, necromancer, soldier, and rogue rebel against their gods?
See the answer for yourself when you purchase City of Dusk here.
Spellbound by Allie Therin
Within the Roaring 20s, Arthur Kenzie strives to protect the world from destructive supernatural relics. To save New York from an amulet with power over the tides, he teams up with rogue psychometric Rory Brodigan. As Arthur and Rory find themselves in more danger—and find their mutual attraction growing—will they be able to save the city and each other?
Spellbound can be found here, and after, be sure to check out the rest of the Magic in Manhattan series.
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Sink into this dazzlingly dark retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
On an isolated, atmospheric island, the sea claims sisters one after another. Annaleigh suspects she and her sisters may be cursed: after all, they have been attending haunting balls in the dead of night without knowing who they were dancing with. Annaleigh and a mysterious stranger must unravel the mystery before the waters claim another sister.
You can find House of Salt and Sorrows here.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
When mortal Jude is trapped in the world of faerie royalty, she has no desire to leave. Rather, Jude wants to rule. But to earn a place on the Court, she must best Prince Cardan, the High King’s cruel and calculating youngest son.
An enthralling treat for fans of enemies-to-lovers, Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince intoxicates and engages from start to finish.
Find a copy here.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
For another thrilling tale of faerie royalty and romantically-charged politics, turn to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.
The #BookTok sensation follows nineteen-year-old Feyre after she murders a wolf. As retribution, Feyre is captured and spirited away to a legendary land of immortal faeries. Her captor, Tamlin, is not a monster at all times, and Feyre begins to develop strong feelings for her new world and him. But there is treachery in the faerie’s land, and to survive, Feyre and Tamlin must find a way to expose it.
You can pick up A Court of Thorns and Roses here.
Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall
Gritty and great fun, Iron & Velvet is the perfect read-in-one-sitting dark fantasy.
Private investigator Kate Kane plays by her own rules, but a year ago, she broke all of them except one: don’t work for vampires. But with a dead supernatural entity on the palace’s doorstep, Kate must shatter her final rule and team up with an alluring vampire prince to solve the mystery.
Check out Iron & Velvet here.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Nghi Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful is a queer siren song of a story that reimagines The Great Gatsby as a dark romantic fantasy.
Queer Vietnamese adoptee Jordan Baker lives in the Jazz Age’s most elite circles, yet still, important doors are closed to her. In the face of this Jordan turns to a world of elemental magic, wandering ghosts, and dastardly magic.
Moody, mysterious, and delectably strange, this story is an ode to everyone who wishes The Great Gatsby was just a bit more queer.
Find The Chosen and the Beautiful here.
The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus
Haunting and spellbinding, The Shape of Water will seep into your imagination and catch you in the grasp of a love story for the ages.
It’s 1962, and Elisa Esposito is mute, orphaned, and working as a janitor at an ocean research center. One fateful night, she sees something forbidden: the lab’s greatest experiment, an amphibious man fated to help America win the cold war. Elisa sees beyond science. Soon, with sign language, Elisa and the man communicate and ultimately fall in love. But with nefarious forces at play, can the affair last?
Allow The Shape of Water to enchant you when you grab your copy here.
Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
For another historically-set tale like The Shape of Water that sparks and dazzles, check out P. Djèlí Clark’s Master of Djinn.
Fatma el-Sha’arawi is no rookie, even if she’s new to the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. It’s 1912 in Cairo, and Fatma saved the world last summer. When a mysterious case catches her attention, Fatma must confront her past and the people within it to solve it.
Find Master of Djinn here.
With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte
Passion and magic flare in this stunning entry from Kat Delacorte, With Fire in Their Blood. Seductive and scandalous, the story follows Lily DeLuca as her father forces her to move to a wilting town where magic, mayhem, and mystery rule. With a twisty plot and a captivating relationship at its core, you’ll want to read this one in a single sitting.
Pick up With Fire in Their Blood here.
Beguiled by Cyla Panin
Ella, a young weaver, dreams of an illustrious career and her store. But when her loom breaks and her future is in jeopardy, Ella makes a dark deal with a washerwoman spirit, the Bean-Nighe, to fix her loom. Every time she weaves, she must sacrifice a drop of blood. At first, the cost doesn’t seem too high, but when a mysterious man enters her life and the loom becomes more sinister, Ella questions who she dealt with.
Twisty, atmospheric, and romantic, Beguiled will put a spell on you that you won’t want to escape.
Find your copy here.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
It’s all witchcraft, forbidden love, and deadly magic in Shelby Mahurin’s searing debut, Serpent & Dove.
Louise le Blanc gave up magic forever when she realized that if she continued, she would likely be burned alive by men like huntsman Reid Diggory. Yet when a con forces Lou and Reid into marriage, their beliefs about each other and the world aren’t the entire story.
Check out the spellbinding novel here.
City of Thorns by C.N. Crawford
A charged affair commences after a case of mistaken identity: Rowan is mortal, and certainly not the supernatural entity the demon Orion was looking for. Still, Rowan and Orion have the same priority—revenge against a killer. And when they team up to get it, they find that their partnership works in every aspect, not only vengeance.
For a seductive and smart romance, you’ll want to grab City of Thorns here.
Fortune Favors the Cruel by Kel Carpenter
Fortune favors the villainous in this dark yet compelling beginning to a romantic trilogy.
When Quinn Darkova, a woman who will stop at nothing to enact revenge on her captors, meets a stubborn nobleman, she knows it spells trouble. Lazarus is controlling, and more than that, he’s been waiting for a magician of her powers to appear. They could rule together or destroy each other—or arrive at some combination of both.
Forget about making each other better—Quinn and Lazarus make each other worse.
You can find Fortune Favors the Cruel here.
From fae princes to fated lovers, these twenty dark fantasy books have all you could ask for and more. Wherever your reading may take you, remember that sometimes, giving in to the dark side is perfectly fine.
What qualifies a book as a “dark” fantasy romance?
Typically, a dark fantasy romance occurs in a mysterious yet enchanting setting, and protagonists find their way into relationships with supernatural entities.
Which of these books should I begin with if I haven’t read many fantasy novels?
We get that fantasy can sometimes seem inaccessible! A Court of Thorns and Roses, House of Salt and Sorrow, and The Cruel Prince have been lauded as dark fantasy romances that are especially easy to immerse yourself in.
What is the opposite of dark fantasy?
Light fantasy usually has a less somber atmosphere and more humor—think Terry Pratchett, and at times, Neil Gaiman.
What tropes are in dark fantasy romance?
While you’ll find many of your standard romance tropes (enemies-to-lovers, sunshine-and-grump, etc.), you’ll also find dark settings, non-human love interests, royalty romances, and more.
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