The prompt today for Spooktastic Reads, a Wyrd and Wonder mini event, is “dark fantasy.” Definitions of dark fantasy already exist on the internet, including in a great post by Fantasy Book Fanatic. There they define dark fantasy as “a fantasy sub-genre that is typified by a deliberately ominous tone, reinforcing what is commonly perceived as a ‘gloomy’ atmosphere.” To avoid duplicating efforts defining this subgenre, today I’m sharing some of my favorite dark fantasy books.
The Plated Prisoner series by Raven Kennedy
GILD, GLINT, GLEAM, and GLOW are the first four books of the Plated Prisoner series by Raven Kennedy. GLOW came out this year and my understanding is there might be a fifth book in the works. This series is a retelling of sorts of the King Midas myth. It’s a dark fantasy romance in which the main character, Auren, realizes she’s been manipulated basically her entire life. The reader follows her realization of this fact and how she grows to shake free of all of the gaslighting and emotional manipulation. There are a lot of content warnings for this series, so make sure to check those before you start reading.
To Bleed a Crystal Bloom by Sarah A. Parker
I mentioned this book several times during Wyrd and Wonder’s annual readathon. And I’ll mention it again. The tension in this book is on another level. Plus the writing is fantastic. It’s marketed as a dark Rapunzel retelling, but the only similarity is that the main character keeps to her tower because she’s afraid of the world. Saved as a very young child, the MC grapples with her feelings for her guardian, but also wanting to be free of her figurative chains. This short synopsis doesn’t do it justice, so I encourage you to read my review.
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
I was skeptical I’d like THE ATLAS SIX after seeing so many middling reviews. But I read it last month and ended up really enjoying it. I almost gave it five stars and might actually upgrade it to a full five. It’s an adult fantasy book set in a dark academia environment. Think old, secret society where six are selected, but only five make it to the final cut. And that person left behind doesn’t get to go home. The author put in a lot of work incorporating elements of physics and philosophy into the magic system. I thought it was spectacular. Not to mention very atmospheric and sexually tense, despite the absence of on-the-page spice. I’m looking forward to the next book, THE ATLAS PARADOX.
What are some of your favorite dark fantasy books?