Urban Fantasy Series

Staff Picks

Urban Fantasy Series

Urban fantasy is always a thrill, but finding a good series to devour is difficult! These books will keep you entertained with fantastical elements and protagonists facing unusual challenges. Start with the first one, and then just try to stop yourself from reading the rest of the series.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson is many things. She’s a mechanic, she’s a baker, and she’s a coyote shapeshifter. One of those things gets her into more trouble than the other two. Her life is a bit turbulent, given her interactions with multiple members of the local supernatural community. She has dealings with the local witches, the Fae, the vampires, and the regional werewolf alpha is her neighbor. Mercy just wants to stay out of trouble, but trouble has a way of turning up on her doorstep, invited or not.

Mercy is one of the best protagonists in urban fantasy right now. She’s not just likable and plucky, but interesting, a really compelling lead in a world full of fun, engaging characters. While many of the secondary characters span the moral spectrum, they remain fascinating and exciting to read about. Mercy might not be the most powerful character in her world, but she’s cunning, and she’s a survivor. Once you read the first Mercy Thompson book you’ll be hooked, and want to read the rest in rapid succession. There’s also a fantastic spin-off series, Alpha and Omega, which has more romance. Both series are ongoing, Mercy Thompson has thirteen books, Alpha and Omega has six.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

In this world, magic and technology fight for dominance as each takes hold in waves. When magic is “up,” technology malfunctions and spellcasting reigns supreme. When technology is up, magic sputters out and phones work again. The skyscrapers have crumbled, and humanity has had to build a new world around the changes magic has wrought, a world overrun by monsters and magical creatures. Mercenary Kate Daniels isn’t killing it, but she gets by. However, she has found herself investigating a mysterious death that she is very close to, and feels pressure to resolve it as soon as she can. Only trouble is, this time she might be in over her head. 

The world of Kate Daniels is a fascinating one, with excellent mythology and world-building. It’s a colorful place, full of exciting creatures both dangerous and friendly. It’s fast paced, moving at a breakneck speed from one conflict to another. Kate has her fingers in a lot of pies, and she interacts with all different groups, from shapeshifters to druids. We see the politics of this world, and the limitations of magic, tested by creatures both powerful and ancient. Overall, it’s an excellent series, and well worth jumping into. It is an ongoing series, with thirteen books.   

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Charley is a grim reaper- she sees the dead, and it’s her job to convince them to move on. This can present problems when the dead don’t want to move on, or want Charley to pursue their murderers. Those who have died a violent death are a lot less willing to go into the light. Complicating Charley’s already chaotic life is an entity she doesn’t really understand, but with whom she has a strong and unusual connection. Charley uses her skills and powers to work as a private investigator, but the dead never sleep, and her otherworldly powers might be more than Charley suspects. 

Charley has one foot in the human world and one in the supernatural, and her problems are both compelling and understandable. I love her relationship with her family, who might not fully understand her but do genuinely care for her. This series also has some really excellent mythology, which goes in directions you might not always expect. Charley’s journey through this series isn’t just in self-discovery, but also in relying on others, and creating a fuller life. The series is complete, and has thirteen books.

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

In a world similar to ours, three humanoid races fight for dominance. The Psy are a psychic race, dependent on the Psynet, a psychic internet connecting all of their minds together. Years ago, they implemented a protocol called Silence, conditioning all Psy not to feel emotion from childhood. This protocol was intended to reduce the rate of mental illness and violence among the Psy. Changelings are shapeshifters, they operate within pack structures and have nothing but distaste for the Psy. Humans, meanwhile, have their own agenda, but they work with both groups, pledging allegiance to neither. Sascha Duncan is a cardinal Psy, ostensibly powerful, but in reality, an embarrassment to her powerful mother. Nikita Duncan is a member of the council, the ruling body of the Psy, and scary powerful, but Sascha’s psychic power is negligible. When Sascha is assigned to work on a project with Changelings from the local cat clan, she starts having difficulty holding on to her conditioning. Sascha was already dealing with mental stress, but the chemistry she feels with Changeling alpha Lucas might just make her question everything about the world she has inhabited her whole life. 

I love this series, it’s a really fun world populated with intense and fascinating characters. While the first book might seem like it’s unbalanced in terms of good and evil, later books do further explore the world of the Psy, and the internal workings of their world. While the Psy are villainized quite a bit, we see that they have their humanity and that humans and Changelings also have evil inside. The world of this series is a complex one, and it presents a serious challenge to our intrepid heroes. The series is ongoing, and has twenty-one books so far.

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Manhattan’s elite aren’t just bloodsuckers- they’re also vampires. Once they reach their teens, the children start waking up, and remembering the memories of their previous incarnations. Schuyler Van Alan is one of them, but she doesn’t fit in with the crowd. She’s not like other blue bloods, she’s half human, but she still starts seeing the telltale signs at fifteen. However, there’s something going on that isn’t right. Someone is killing, and no one knows why. How many mysterious deaths will it take for Schuyler to uncover the truth?

Blue bloods is a great series, and it has some really unexpected turns. Schuyler is a hopeful, kind protagonist who still makes mistakes. She has a lot of growing to do, and her character matures a lot through the story. The books have a lot of strong themes, particularly love, sacrifice, and family. It’s targeted at teen audiences but is enjoyable for adult readers as well, who will enjoy the snappy writing and mythology. The series is complete, and has seven books.