The nights, they are growing colder. Trees are becoming skeletons, the air is starting to bite with razor-sharp teeth, and the snow is beginning to onslaught the ground with flurries. The world will soon be a blanket of white and the cold will start to rattle our bones to the core. We will be forced to retreat behind closed doors and seek shelter from the bitter wind knocking against our windowpanes. Before we know it, the outside world will be almost a mere memory as fuzzy socks, fireplaces, and good books become our reality.
Of course, many avid readers during this spectacular season will favor books about summer. They will try to recreate warmer days by reading contemporary fiction and books about falling in love under a sultry summer sun. These books might cure a summer hangover, but they will not keep a reader in touch with the season. Dark fantasy screams winter. It reflects the weather bellowing outside houses’ front stoops and will keep readers’ chest warm as they read about magicians, monsters, and assassins that slink in the darkness. Here are ten dark fantasy books meant to entertain and to read during those cold winter nights. I promise they will keep readers wishing for more days filled with adventure and dangerous forbidden love.
These Violent Delights By Chloe Gong
For as long as anyone can remember, the Scarlett Gang and the White Flowers have been at each other’s throats. The established rival gangs have gone to extreme measures to try to undermine their competition and, in the process, have painted Shanghai’s street red with blood. Shanghai’s frightened citizens always assumed that the Scarlett Gang and the White Flowers would be their city’s demise, but something monstrous is lurking in the city’s shadows – something even more prominent and sinister than either of these gangs combined. This entity might destroy Shanghai before the Scarlett Gang and White Flowers can hammer the final nail in their city’s coffin and the rival gangs cannot let that happen. In light of these unforeseen circumstances, an alliance between the gangs is formed and the two heirs and former lovers Juliette and Roma are forced to put their guns down and work together to save the city they both one day want to rule.
These Violent Delights occur in 1920s Shanghai and is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet’s classic story. The 2020 release is dark, violent, and takes place in a historical fantasy world where a monster stirs up trouble in the depths of the Huangpu River.
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
Emilia and her twin Vittoria are Streghes, witches who live secretly among humans. They stay out of the limelight to avoid notice and persecution, hiding in plain sight. However, their parlor tick of hiding amongst the mundane does not fool the eye for very long. One night, Vittoria fails to show up for dinner, and before Emilia knows it, she is finding her sisters’ body mauled and desecrated beyond belief. Overcome by vengeance, Emilia unpeels herself from the comfort of the shadows and goes on a journey with a Prince of Hell to find her sister’s killer before any other lives are lost. The only thing Emilia is not sure about is if she can trust this dashing prince. Is he truly on her side? Or is he really the killer that took her sister’s life?
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets are born into the royal family. All three girls are queens, equal heirs to the crown, and possessors of powerful magic. The girls, although gifted with extraordinary abilities, cannot all rule as one colloquial body. Only one can be the true crowned monarchy of Fennbirn and the title of her majesty is not given thoughtlessly. If a girl wants the crown, she has to fight for it and ultimately use her magic to eliminate her sisters from the picture.
In Three Dark Crowns, only one sister will survive to rule over Fennbirn. The other two will sadly perish for the circle to continue for generations to come and for three more triplets to be born and rule over the island they call home.
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
In the brutal, plague-ravaged world of Sabor exists Fie, a Crow; a member of a group of mercy killers whose obligation is to put to rest anyone unlucky enough to contract the plague. Fie, bound by a duty she cannot escape, lives stuck at the bottom of Sabor’s strict caste system. She breathes, day in and day out, the nasty plague-ridden air and kills with a straight, even face. She believes that her life will always remain this way, but things start to change for Fie when her band of wayward Crows is summoned to the royal palace. Of course, Fie believes that she is just there to scavenge the bodies of the plague’s next victims, but finds herself enlisted on a crazy plot to smuggle the Sabor’s prince to safety before he is killed by the queen, who is attempting to take the throne for herself. In just a blink of an eye, Fie’s entire life changes as she embarks on an incredible journey to save her fate and a prince’s life.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Le Cirque des Rêves. It comes without warning, wading through the fog on an unforgiving night. Within hours, the tents rise under the glow of the stars and the show prepares to open its doors for just one night of entertainment. If one misses the grand opening of the magical exhibition, they are out of luck. The circus is open for one night and one night only before it disappears into the darkness, leaving nothing behind in its wake.
Celia and Marco, two of the circus’ magicians, are accustomed to traveling and performing for the masses, but they are also used to competing against each other in a duel of magical wit and talent. Unbeknownst to them, Celia and Marco’s rivalry is a game, where only one talented magician will survive and continue to perform on the circus’ stage. For the fate of the circus and everyone involved, this competition of survival must play out between the two magicians, even if Celia and Marco have fallen completely and utterly in love with each other amid their battle.
The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
Ryx did not think her life could get any worse. She already has been gifted with broken magic that takes life from everything she touches and has disappointed the entire Vaskandar empire as the mage-marked granddaughter of their ruler. Now, she has accidentally killed a visiting dignitary in self-defense and activated a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle. Ryx is unsure what has become of her life or her purpose in this world until she comes across a group of unlikely magical experts after fleeing her home as a result of the destruction she has caused. Upon meeting these individuals, Ryx discovers that her family is in grave danger and the magical artifact she brought to life could destroy the very fabric of her world. As a result, Ryx must return to the family that has blacklisted her if she has any chance of saving them and the world from her accidental wrongdoings.
NeverNight by Jay Kristoff
The Red Church is home to the deadliest assassins in the entire Republic. These assassins that live in this cathedral of darkness are merciless and bloodthirsty. They are gifted in the art of killing and their canvases are the ones unlucky enough to find themselves underneath their knife.
Mia Corvere is the newest assassin, ready to live within the Red Church’s walls and be inducted into the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder. She is bright, fearless, and vengeance is the only thing on her mind when joining the assassins’ order. She craves to take down the forces that destroyed her family and she will stop at nothing to achieve the Republic’s demise. However, Mia’s hellbent plot of mass destruction and death might have to be put on hold. A killer is loose in the church’s halls and the whole congregation is at risk of being unraveled from the inside out. Not to mention, the secrets Mia attempted to kept buried unearth themselves from the ground and threaten to ruin her before she can make a career for herself as the next great assassin. Mia’s world is on the entire brink of collapse before her brutal final initiation has even begun. Will she be able to save the Red Church before her new home crumbles before her eyes or will she fail and be killed just like her father – as a traitor?
wicked saints by Emily a. Duncan
In a land filled with obscurity and torment, a girl that can speak to gods must find a way to save her people without killing herself. A dashing prince who hangs between life and death must figure out who he can trust in this cruel, twisted world. And, lastly, a boy with a terrible secret awaits his destiny in the wings as the world crumbles and bends around him. These three individuals live in a world soaked in blood and death as a century-old war warps their reality and lives. However, when they meet, a spark of hope ignites in their hearts as they go on a dark, thrilling quest to save their reality and lives before it is too late.
the young elites by Marie lu
When the blood fever overtook Adeline Amouteru’s body, she was supposed to die. All the children that come down with the fever succumb to it. They deteriorate and wither before their parent’s eyes and eventually die a horrible death. Adeline’s parents expected their daughter to become nothing more than a sack of skin and for her soul to leave her body like the other children, but she did not fall victim to the fever. She overtook it. She beat it. Adeline rose from her very ashes like a phoenix, but her surviving the fever came with a price. Her hair turned alabaster, a jagged scar marred her face, and she was able to wield a dark power that scared grown men. Adeline Amouteru became a Young Elite; a child reborn from the fever. Her very existence became illegal – for Young Elites are hunted and killed by the king and his Inquisitions.
For a while, Adeline avoided being persecuted for her “crime,” but when she accidentally kills her father with her newfound abilities, she finds herself about to be burned at the stake. Upon her last breath, she is saved by a member of the Dagger Society – a group of Young Elites who strive to overthrow the reigning monarchy. Grateful for saving her life and with nowhere to go, Adeline joins the Dagger Society and in the process, ventures down a dangerous path that could lead to her destruction.
the prince of thorns by Mark Lawrence
Prince Jorg Ancrath used to be a loving child with a bright smile before darkness took hold of his reality and crushed it in the palms of its hand. When Jorg was just nine years old, he watched his mother and brother get killed before his eyes. By the time he was thirteen, his attitude had soured, his heart had turned cold, and he had a band of outlaws at his fingertips to do his bidding. Now, at fifteen years old, the prince wants to return to his castle and retake everything swiped from underneath his feet. Life and death mean nothing to him at this point. Revenge is all that is on his mind. He will do anything in his power to become the king of his realm and spread chaos across his vast lands if it means he can get retribution for his fallen brother and mother’s death.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA PINTEREST