What could be more engrossing than a story where things aren’t quite what they seem – and with beauty, there is also darkness?
Gothic fantasy is so atmospheric you can’t help but be drawn, enchanted into the tale. There is often mystery to uncover, and danger lurking in the shadows, invoking a sense of suspense and fear of the unknown.
Already intrigued? Then I have got a treat for you. In this article, I will be listing some of the best gothic fantasy books out there – I can’t wait to share them with you!
I’ve got a nice mix coming up for you, with current bestsellers, genre classics, and even some lesser known treasures as well. Better yet, some of them are the first books in a whole series! Here goes…
(The following books aren’t listed in any particular order.)
Hypnotically gothic and sensual, Anne Rice is a master of gothic fantasy, and this tale of confessions of a 200-year-old vampire, Louis, who has suffered great loss and is at odds with his macabre immortality.
Spell binding and richly detailed, the reader can really put themselves in the shoes of the main character and feel his torment. There are also important side characters with unusual relationships to the protagonist, such as Vampire Lestat, who made him a vampire, and a young girl who becomes a vampire.
And if you enjoy this book, you’ll be pleased to hear that the series continues, spread across 9 books in total.
This highly immersive tale tells of a binder’s apprentice, Emmett, whose job it is to hand-craft beautiful books that can be used to forget unwanted memories, and the pain that they caused.
However, one day Emmett chances upon such a book emblazoned with his own name, and thus begins a mission to rediscover what it was he had decided to forget.
It’s part fantasy, part faux-history, and part love story, and the author deftly explores humanity’s darkest moments and morals. It’s nothing short of spellbinding.
On suffering an almost fatal blow to the head, the traumatized detective Ian finds a bloodstained card with the name of a master wizard. In a bid to retrieve his lost memories, Ian seeks the help of sister witches and heads to a music hall in Victorian England, a refuge for witches in need of sanctuary.
At the same time, there seems to be a link between a series of gruesome murders, and as clues get unturned suspicion unfolds and Ian himself may be the next to die.
This is book one of a duet, the second book being titled The Raven Song, which, I can assure you, you will want to read after this one. There are lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, and this gothic mystery is rich with magic and intrigue.
In this young adult gothic fantasy, is a loose retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Bother’s Grimm.
Set at Highmoor in a fascinating waterfront world, Annaleigh’s fellow sisters begin to mysteriously die one by one, and Annaleigh starts to suspect that the deaths were not accidents.
Annaleigh has a disturbing series of ghostly visions, and sets out to unravel the curse that haunts the family, through involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own.
Compulsively readable, this haunting story is vivid, and combines suspense and horror alongside a little unexpected romance.
This highly acclaimed bestseller is part love story, part fable, telling the story of two star crossed magicians engaged in a deadly game of cunning.
With high stakes, this is a game where only one of them can be left standing, but as the two of them begin to fall for one another, they set off a domino effect of unwanted consequences that leave the lives of all hanging in the balance.
It’s a book with broad appeal, suited for romantics, history buffs, and mystery lovers alike.
Now this is a tale with a difference! Set in Victorian England, it tells the story of Ruth Butterham, a seamstress awaiting trial for murder. Ruth believes that she can kill through the power of weaving curses with her needle and thread.
Meanwhile, there’s a prison visitor by the name of Dorothea, who is fascinated with the case, and also in phrenology, and decides to test her hypothesis on Ruth.
This dark and gothic fantasy tale has earned rave reviews online, and in particular, the unexpected ending.
Set in glamorous 1950s Mexico, this is the gothic story of a brave debutante and socialite, Noemi, who is drawn to a chillingly charismatic aristocrat.
She is sent to an isolated mansion, where she becomes a sleuth, trying to uncover treacherous secrets from the family’s dark past. She begins to have dreams of blood and doom, and starts to unearth terrifying stories of violence and madness.
Dubbed a new classic of the genre, this is a feminist reimagining of the gothic fantasy novel and is deliciously creepy.
This lushly dark fantasy centers around Elspeth, who has an ancient spirit, the Nightmare, trapped in her head who protects her and keeps her secrets.
On meeting a mysterious highwayman, Elspeth soon embarks on a mission to cure the kingdom of the dark magic infecting it. But this man is guilty of high treason, and the two of them must race against time, while they find themselves attracted to one another, and Elspeth’s Nightmare gradually begins to take over her mind.
There’s fake dating, political subterfuge, a little spice, and even a unique magic system to keep readers hooked.
This is the first book in a series of two called The Shepherd King, while the second book is called Two Twisted Crows.
Here comes an imaginative suspense tale from legendary horror and fantasy writer, and not to mention the master of suspense himself, Stephen King!
It tells of Charlie, a high school kid who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war. There’s plenty of adventure and strange encounters. It’s quite a page turner!
And just like a fairy tale, it can scare you half to death, while at the same time coming to a satisfying end, which unlike many of King’s other books, will be sure to lift your heart.
In order to become something more than prey, Oraya, the adopted human daughter of the Nightborne vampire king, has to enter the Kejari, a legendary tournament in which is held by none other than the goddess of death herself.
Forced to make an alliance with rival Raihin, an enemy, a killer, and a particularly ruthless vampire, Oraya finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. But in this kingdom, nothing is more deadly than love.
Reminiscent of the Hunger Games, this dark fantasy has danger, suspense, betrayal, forced proximity, and a deliciously slow burn enemies-to-lovers trope.
There’s great world-building, resulting in an immersive read with plenty of unexpected twists and turns.
This is book one of the 2-book series, Crowns of Nyaxia, which is followed by book 2, The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King.
This is the perfect book for fans of A Court Of Thorns And Roses. It’s a darkly gothic tale, in which there’s a mysterious veil that separates Estrella’s world from that of the Fae’s. One day, the veil suddenly shatters, forcing Estrella to leave her own life behind.
On the run from the Fae, Estrella meets Caelum who is somehow able to fight back. In this dark enemies-to-lovers fantasy, there’s forced proximity, fated mates, and plenty of spice to keep you ever turning the pages.
What’s more, there’s a great plot twist toward the end that changes everything!
This is the first book in four of the Of Flesh And Bone Series, and several of the books in this series were in the bestsellers charts when this article was written. What Lies Beyond The Veil ends in a cliffhanger, so be prepared to find the time to read all 4 books!
I sure hope you’ve enjoyed scrolling through. If you’re an ardent fan of the gothic fantasy genre, you may well have heard of some of these titles already, but if you’re yet to read all of them, I’m sure you’ll have picked some out for your To-Be-Read pile!
It’s kinda hard to pick a favorite here, they all have such good tropes, and deliciously dark and gothic writing and atmosphere. The authors of these books weave quite a magic in their writing, and you’re sure to be enthralled from the first page through to the last.