Book Recs: Urban Fantasy

High fantasy’s all well and good, but sometimes you just want to read something that happens in a world you recognise. So that’s what’s happening in this rec list! Ten great urban fantasy novels (featuring LGBT characters, of course).

And just to make it that much better, I’ve tried to make this rec list as not-white as possible (though you’ll be able to tell where I failed in that), for whoever asked for this specifically (because I don’t remember, so I hope you see this!!).

So, let’s go!


A Blade So Black



L. L. McKinney
Rep: Black bi mc

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

Why Should I Read It?

Retellings are hard, especially when the source material is so well-known, but this one is an action-packed and exciting one. And the main character is bi, just to make it that bit better.


The Gilded Wolves



Roshani Chokshi
Rep: Filipino-Spanish bi mc, Haitian-French mlm mc

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

Why Should I Read It?

The question isn’t so much “why should I read it” as “why haven’t I already read it”. The Gilded Wolves is one of my favourite books ever (and also the sequel is epic so you’re going to want to read this before that comes out) so if you read any book on this list, read this one.


A Hero at the End of the World



Erin Claiborne
Rep: gay British Chinese mc

Sixteen year-old Ewan Mao knows one thing for certain: according to prophecy, it’s his destiny to kill the evil tyrant whose dark reign has terrorized Britain. Although he’s just a normal boy, deep down Ewan is confident that he has exactly what it takes to be a hero. But when Ewan’s big moment comes, he freezes. His best friend, the clever and talented Oliver Abrams, defeats the villain for him, and Ewan’s bright future crumbles before his eyes.

Five years later, Oliver has a job as an Unusual in the government’s Serious Magical Crimes Agency, the life he and Ewan always dreamed of. But a routine investigation leads him and his partner, Sophie Stuart, to uncover a dangerous and powerful cult… one that seems to have drawn his former best friend into a plot to end the world.

A deftly plotted, hysterically funny take on Chosen One narratives, A Hero at the End of the World expertly walks the fine line between satire and sincerity. Its sensitive depiction of a broken friendship and wry take-down of unfairly great expectations will appeal to all readers of modern fantasy.

Why Should I Read It?

Imagine a coffee shop AU for the Chosen One trope. Yeah. You know you want it.


Jade City



Fonda Lee
Rep: gay East Asian mc

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.

The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.

When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

Why Should I Read It?

Okay, this one’s a definite cheat because, although it’s urban-fantasy-esque, it’s actually set in a made-up world. But! My rec list, my rules. And I love it way too much not to rec it here.


Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live



Sacha Lamb
Rep: Jewish trans mlm mc

Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live

Avi comes across these foreboding words scrawled on the bathroom mirror, but what do they mean? Is this a curse, a prediction, or a threat from Avi’s emboldened bullies? And how to they know his real name when he hasn’t even told his mother yet?

Then there is Ian—the cool new guy at school, who is suddenly paying attention to Avi. Ian is just like Avi, but he is also all sunshine, optimism, and magic. All the things that Avi doesn’t know how to deal with…yet.

Why Should I Read It?

Sometimes you just need to sit down with a very lovely novella and spend an hour getting immersed in it. And don’t I have just the novella for you. (This one. It’s this one.)


The True Queen



Zen Cho
Rep: Malay wlw mc

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

Why Should I Read It?

Historical fantasy definitely counts as urban fantasy right? Anyway, I don’t know anyone who writes as good historical fantasy as Zen Cho, and that this one is also f/f? *Chef’s kiss*


Ghost Girl in the Corner



Daniel José Older
Rep: Afro-Latina lesbian mc


Trying to shake off the strange malaise that separates her from even her girlfriend Izzy, Tee decides to take over the Bed-Stuy Searchlight for the summer. But then she finds an alluring violet dress in the newspaper office, and a cute ghost girl no one else can see. Who is she? What does she want? And why is she revealing herself to Tee?


Izzy can tell Tee’s drifting away from her — she misses Izzy’s shows and skips shadowshaper practice to spend time alone at the newspaper — and she won’t stand for it. Yet when a girl goes missing in Bed-Stuy, Izzy needs Tee to get the word out and help investigate. Can they break through their distance and reconnect before someone else dies?

Why Should I Read It?

Yes, it’s a novella in a series, but it’s one that you don’t need to have read the other books to understand (though you definitely should anyway not least because the characters in this feature). And the fantasy aspect of this world is so good.





Lee Winter
Rep: Black lesbian mc

Shattergirl, Earth’s first lesbian guardian—a brilliant but aloof alien superheroine who can hurl and destroy large objects—is refusing to save people and has gone off the grid.

Lena Martin, the street-smart tracker with a silver tongue and a disdain for the rogue guardians she chases, has only days to bring her home. As the pair clash heatedly, masks begin to crack and brutal secrets are exposed that could shatter them both.

Why Should I Read It?

Gotta fess up to not having read this one yet, but lesbian superhero? What’s not to love?


Labyrinth Lost



Zoraida Córdova
Rep: Latina bi mc

I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

Why Should I Read It?

Another one I haven’t personally read, but it’s also one that people I trust rate highly. So. Go read it.


Cemetery Boys



Aiden Thomas
Rep: Latinx trans mlm mc

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and he can’t get rid him.

Bestowed by the ancient gods of Maya, Yadriel and the gifted members of his Latinx community can see spirits: women have the power to heal bodies and souls, while men can release lost spirits to the afterlife. But Yadriel, a trans boy, has never been able to perform the tasks of the brujas – because he is a brujo.

When his cousin suddenly dies, Yadriel takes matters into his own hands and successfully summons a ghost. The only problem is, it’s not his cousin, it’s Julian Diaz, the resident bad boy of his high school. Worse, he’s pissed about his death and demands answers.

Yadriel agrees to help Julian discover how he died. In exchange, Julian will let Yadriel release his spirit, finally proving himself a brujo. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less Yadriel wants to let him go, and time is running out.

Why Should I Read It?

I can’t really answer this because it’s not yet published, but hey! Something to look forward to (because doesn’t it sound amazing??).


What would you rec?


5 thoughts on “Book Recs: Urban Fantasy

  1. Oh, I just keep adding books to my TBR today… No regrets though? Those sound amazing! Thank you, Charlotte!
    As for recs, Christmas is not that far away and Magic, Murder & Mistletoe by Ellen Jane was super cute and sapphic? And if historical settings count then Spellbound by Allie Therin and Witchmark by C.L. Polk were great as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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