Best 10 Dark Fantasy Books For 2023

Ghost of the Truthseeker by Strungbound

“Ghost of the Truthseeker 1: A LitRPG Adventure” by Strungbound is a captivating blend of LitRPG and cultivation genres that offers readers an immersive journey into a world where power is obtained through conflict and the pursuit of cultivation leads to insurmountable peaks.

The novel centers around Alistair, a character who finds himself in a dangerous new world when Earth is prematurely initiated into a universe-spanning empire of cut-throat cultivators, beasts, and entities of ungodly power, all guided by a mysterious AI System. The System’s first quest? Kill someone. Amidst the chaos, Alistair must make a choice. Will he fight for the sake of power, or stand against the forces of evil? His decision will alter the threads of destiny.

The author, Strungbound, has done an excellent job of creating a complex and intriguing world. The narrative is rich with details and the progression system is full of secrets and possibilities, which will appeal to fans of Defiance of the Fall and The Primal Hunter. The book is well-paced, and the plot is full of unexpected twists and turns that keep the reader engaged from start to finish.

The character development is another strong point of the novel. Alistair is a well-rounded character with a strong moral compass, which makes him relatable and easy to root for. The supporting characters are also well-developed, each with their unique personalities and roles in the story.

In conclusion, “Ghost of the Truthseeker 1: A LitRPG Adventure” is a thrilling and engaging read that successfully combines elements of LitRPG and cultivation. It offers a unique and refreshing take on the genres, making it a must-read for fans of both. Despite some minor issues, the novel stands out for its compelling plot, well-developed characters, and intricate world-building. It’s a promising start to a series that many readers are eagerly looking forward to continuing.

The Heir of Shadow and Stone (Shadow and Stone Series Book 1) by Rue Volley

“The Heir of Shadow and Stone” is a captivating tale that weaves together the lives of three distinct characters: Everleigh Aeress, a maiden groomed to serve the Kingdom of Stone; Arrowe Brumah, a charming boy with his eyes set on the crown; and Cullen Moore, the chosen heir to the Kingdom of Shadow.

Everleigh, along with other Stone Maidens, has been chosen at birth by the purity stone and is preparing to face the trial of Acheron, their Serpent God, to prove her worthiness of carrying an heir to the throne. Arrowe, despite his flirtatious demeanor, is focused on power and the crown, until a chance encounter with a girl with emerald green eyes bewitches him. Cullen, the vampire prince, longs for a challenge and finds it when a threat to their kingdom emerges, leading him to venture beyond the walls of the Kingdom of Shadow.

This book is a thrilling exploration of power, love, and the complexities of morality. It delves into age-gap romances, forced captivity, toxic sexual relationships, and the manipulation of power. It also challenges organized religion and the stripping of women’s reproductive rights. The narrative is not meant for those easily offended by these themes, but for those who can handle them, it offers a riveting journey into the world of Shadow and Stone.

“The Heir of Shadow and Stone” is a riveting tale that masterfully intertwines fantasy, romance, and political intrigue. Rue Volley has crafted a world that is both captivating and thought-provoking, challenging societal norms and questioning the morality of power structures.

The characters are complex and well-developed, each with their unique motivations and struggles. Everleigh’s journey from a maiden to a potential queen is fraught with trials and tribulations, providing a compelling narrative of growth and resilience. Arrowe’s pursuit of power, despite his seemingly carefree demeanor, adds a layer of complexity to his character. Cullen, the vampire prince, is intriguing with his longing for a challenge and his eventual encounter with a threat that could change everything.

The narrative is rich with detail, immersing readers in the world of Shadow and Stone. Volley’s writing style is engaging, with a balance of descriptive prose and fast-paced action. The exploration of themes such as power dynamics, love, and morality adds depth to the story, making it more than just a fantasy tale.

However, the book does delve into some dark themes, including toxic relationships and the stripping of women’s reproductive rights. These themes, while challenging, are handled with sensitivity and serve to further the narrative’s depth.

Overall, “The Heir of Shadow and Stone” is a compelling read for those who enjoy fantasy novels with a dash of romance and a sprinkle of political intrigue. It’s a book that will make you think, feel, and question, all while taking you on a thrilling journey through a beautifully crafted world.

Solo Goblin Engineer: A Cataclysm LitRPG Kindle Edition by System Lad

“Solo Goblin Engineer: A Cataclysm LitRPG” by System Lad is a captivating and unique addition to the LitRPG genre. The author has taken a fresh approach by introducing a protagonist who, due to a system glitch, is transformed from a human into a goblin engineer. This transformation sets the stage for an intriguing narrative filled with suspense, action, and a fair share of humor.

The plot is set in a post-apocalyptic world where mysterious Overlords have wreaked havoc, destroyed all electronics, and imposed a game-like system. The protagonist, Arthur, finds himself in the midst of this chaos, not as a player but as a lowly goblin. This unexpected twist adds an element of surprise and keeps the readers hooked.

System Lad’s writing style is engaging and detailed, providing a vivid picture of the world Arthur navigates. The game mechanics are well thought out and consistent, adding depth to the story. The author’s ability to maintain the balance between the game elements and the narrative is commendable.

Arthur’s character is well-developed and relatable. Despite his transformation into a goblin, his human intelligence remains intact, making him a formidable character. His struggles and triumphs as he navigates this new world make for an engaging read.

The book has received positive reviews from readers, with many appreciating the unique twist in the protagonist’s character. The humor, action, and detailed game mechanics have been highlighted as the book’s strong points. However, a few readers found the book less appealing, indicating that the narrative might not cater to all tastes within the genre.

In conclusion, “Solo Goblin Engineer: A Cataclysm LitRPG” is a refreshing take on the LitRPG genre. It offers a unique perspective, an engaging plot, and a protagonist who defies the odds in an intriguing manner. While it may not appeal to all, it is certainly a must-read for those looking for something different in the genre. The book stands on its own, making it accessible even to those who haven’t read the other books in the series. It is a testament to System Lad’s creativity and storytelling prowess.

Lost Mages by DB King & Shawn Whitney

“Lost Mages 1: A Progression Fantasy” by DB King and Shawn Whitney is a captivating tale that immerses readers into a world of magic, betrayal, and revenge. The authors have crafted a unique and intriguing magic system that adds depth and complexity to the narrative, making it stand out in the crowded genre of fantasy literature.

The story revolves around a group of mages who, once revered and powerful, find themselves betrayed and exiled. As war looms, they are called upon once again, but this time, they are driven by a thirst for vengeance. This premise sets the stage for a narrative filled with suspense, action, and emotional depth.

The characters are well-developed, each with their unique traits and arcs. The protagonist’s journey from exile to a vengeful return is compelling and emotionally resonant, making the reader invested in their quest. The supporting characters add richness to the story, each contributing to the narrative in their unique way.

The pacing of the story is well-balanced, with the initial slow build-up contributing to the suspense and anticipation. The authors have done an excellent job of creating a sense of urgency and tension that keeps the reader hooked till the end.

One of the standout aspects of “Lost Mages 1: A Progression Fantasy” is its world-building. The authors have created a vivid and immersive world that serves as the perfect backdrop for the story. The descriptions are detailed and evocative, making the reader feel as if they are part of this magical world.

However, the book does have its shortcomings. The progression of the story can feel slow at times, and some readers might find the start of the book a bit slow. But these minor issues do not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.

Pit Fighter: A LitRPG Progression Fantasy (Victor of Tucson Book 1)” by Plum Parrot

“Pit Fighter: A LitRPG Progression Fantasy (Victor of Tucson Book 1)” by Plum Parrot is a thrilling journey that plunges readers into a world of high-stakes battles, relentless progression, and the raw struggle for survival.

The protagonist, Victor, is a hard-edged teenager who finds himself abruptly yanked from his mundane life and thrust into the brutal world of Fanwath. Here, he is enslaved and forced to fight in the pits, where survival is the only currency that matters. The author does an excellent job of portraying Victor’s grit and determination, making him a compelling character to follow. His journey from a high school student to a pit fighter in a ruthless world is both harrowing and captivating.

The LitRPG elements are seamlessly integrated into the narrative, adding a layer of complexity and intrigue to Victor’s journey. The progression system is well-thought-out, providing a clear path for Victor’s development while also presenting its own set of challenges. The concept of “Energy” as a life force and currency in this world is particularly innovative, adding a unique twist to the genre.

The world-building in this novel is commendable. Fanwath is a harsh, unforgiving place filled with dangerous creatures and even more dangerous individuals. The author’s vivid descriptions bring this world to life, immersing the reader in its harsh realities.

However, the novel is not without its flaws. Victor’s character, while compelling, can come across as abrasive at times. His frequent use of profanity and his aggressive demeanor may be off-putting to some readers. Additionally, the trope of enslavement as a plot device is somewhat overused in the genre and could have been replaced with a more original concept.

Despite these minor drawbacks, “Pit Fighter: A LitRPG Progression Fantasy (Victor of Tucson Book 1)” is a gripping read that will appeal to fans of the genre. Its fast-paced narrative, intricate world-building, and well-executed LitRPG elements make it a standout addition to the genre. I eagerly await the next installment in the series to see how Victor’s journey unfolds.

Order of Shirán: Elven Worlds 1 by R.K. Lander

“Flames of Mira” is an epic fantasy set in a world of ice, magma, and magic, where people like Ig undergo life-threatening trials that bind chemical elements to their bodies. Working as an enforcer for a corrupt Magnate, Ig is burdened with binding magic, which will kill him at any sign of disobedience. When chaos ensues from a coup, he is faced with the dire situation of potentially killing innocents or sacrificing himself. As he navigates this dilemma, he clings to the memories of his old self and the friendships he has made with the magnate’s children​​.

I found “Flames of Mira” to be a deeply immersive read. The combination of a unique setting under the frozen lands of Mira, the inventive and cool magic system, and the intense moral choices Ig faces, all contribute to a thrilling narrative. Harmon’s world-building is masterfully done, creating a setting that is as engaging as the characters themselves. The characters are well-fleshed out and are not overshadowed by the world-building, offering a balance that keeps readers invested​1​.

However, potential readers should be aware that this is a brutal dark fantasy. The themes of slavery, toxic relationships, rage, broken families, murder, and war are explored deeply, providing the story with a serious and grim undertone. That said, Harmon handles these heavy themes with care and finesse, offering a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition in extreme circumstances​​.

Overall, “Flames of Mira” is an exciting, dynamic debut with a uniquely inventive world that I believe will make waves in the fantasy genre. I look forward to seeing where Harmon takes the “Rift Walker” series next.

Divine Heresy 1 by Frank Rowland , Valor Forge

“Divine Heresy 1: A LitRPG Adventure” is a captivating tale that revolves around the protagonist, Marick. After his ship is sunk during a Leviathan Hunt, Marick is saved from certain death by an ancient god who offers him a new life and a never-before-seen power. Retiring from his profession as a Leviathan Hunter, Marick sets his sights on Bleakhollow, a city teeming with nocturnal monsters, powerful Classes, and a child with a hidden secret. However, Marick harbors the greatest secret of all: he has committed Divine Heresy, granting him unimaginable abilities. His enemies are numerous and nearly as powerful as he is. To survive and reach the highest levels of his new Class, Marick must form strange alliances and wield even stranger magic.

Review:

“Divine Heresy 1: A LitRPG Adventure” is a riveting journey into a world where gods, monsters, and magic coexist. The authors, Frank Rowland and Valor Forge, have masterfully crafted a narrative that is as immersive as it is thrilling. The protagonist, Marick, is a well-developed character whose transformation from a Leviathan Hunter to a possessor of divine powers is both believable and compelling. His journey is fraught with danger and intrigue, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat throughout.

The city of Bleakhollow is a character in its own right, filled with nocturnal monsters and powerful Classes. The authors’ vivid descriptions bring this city to life, making it a hauntingly beautiful backdrop to Marick’s adventures.

The concept of Divine Heresy is intriguing, adding a layer of complexity to the story. Marick’s divine powers set him apart, but they also make him a target. This tension drives the plot forward and keeps the reader engaged.

The book is not without its share of action. The battle scenes are well-executed, with a level of detail that makes them easy to visualize. The authors strike a good balance between action, character development, and world-building, making for a well-rounded narrative.

In conclusion, “Divine Heresy 1: A LitRPG Adventure” is a must-read for fans of the LitRPG genre. Its unique premise, engaging characters, and thrilling plot make it a standout addition to the genre. I eagerly look forward to the next installment in this series.

The Devil of London (Red Flag Series Book 1) by Amelia Hutchins

“The Devil of London” by Amelia Hutchins is a captivating tale that masterfully blends elements of fantasy, romance, and suspense. The story is set in a world where the supernatural coexists with the mundane, and the stakes are as high as they can get – a soul for eternity.

The protagonist, a woman of power and determination, finds herself in a precarious situation when she crosses paths with the Devil of London, Khaos Nasir. Three hundred years ago, she set his Sinner’s Den on fire, and now, he’s come to collect his due. But instead of her life, he demands her soul for eternity. This sets the stage for a thrilling game of power and revenge, where the protagonist is determined to bring down his empire of sin.

The narrative is further enriched by the backstory of the characters. Before humans walked the earth, the protagonist and Aderyn were creatures of darkness. The gods punished them for crossing them, allowing them to be near, but never together. Now, Khaos plans to do anything to break the cycle and get her back for good, even if the gods prevent him from giving her what she craves.

Hutchins’ writing is evocative and engaging, drawing readers into a world where the lines between good and evil are blurred. The characters are well-developed, with their motivations and actions adding depth to the narrative. The plot is filled with unexpected twists and turns, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

However, the book contains subject matter and scenes which may be difficult to read, and it is not suitable for anyone under 18. Readers should heed the author’s warning before proceeding.

In conclusion, “The Devil of London” is a riveting read that offers a unique blend of fantasy, romance, and suspense. It is a testament to Hutchins’ storytelling prowess and her ability to create complex characters and intricate plots. This book is a must-read for fans of supernatural romance and anyone who enjoys a good, suspenseful story.

The Dragon’s Manservant (Sorcerer of Bad Examples Book 1) by Bill McCurry

“The Dragon’s Manservant” is a delightful blend of humor, fantasy, and action penned by Bill McCurry. The protagonist, Bib, is a sorcerer who has spent the last seventy years in self-imposed exile, guarding his realm’s vulnerable backdoor. He’s weary of playing the hero, but when his late wife’s step-grandchildren plead for his aid in a catastrophic war, he finds himself drawn back into the fray. His return is met with mockery and unfamiliarity, but the death of one of the youngsters at the hands of an assassin ignites a fire of vengeance within him.

Bib’s journey is filled with sarcasm, swordplay, and magic. His character is a refreshing departure from the typical hero archetype, as he’s a man who’s had enough of saving the world and would rather give everyone the finger and walk off into the sunset. However, his underestimation of a deadly foe could lead to his downfall. Will he be able to balance the bloody scales, or will his arrogance lead to his demise?

“The Dragon’s Manservant” is a captivating read that masterfully combines humor and fantasy. The protagonist, Bib, is a refreshing character, a sorcerer tired of his heroic duties and eager to retire. His snarky attitude and sharp wit make him a memorable character, and his journey is a rollercoaster of action, suspense, and humor.

The narrative is well-paced, and the author, Bill McCurry, does an excellent job of creating a vivid and immersive fantasy world. The plot is engaging, with unexpected twists and turns that keep the reader on their toes. The humor is well-placed and adds a light-hearted touch to the otherwise intense storyline.

One of the book’s strengths is its character development. Bib is a complex character with a rich backstory, and his transformation throughout the book is compelling to watch. The supporting characters are also well-developed, each with their unique personalities and roles in the story.

The writing style is engaging and easy to follow, making the book a pleasure to read. The author’s use of descriptive language brings the scenes to life, and the dialogue is witty and entertaining.

In conclusion, “The Dragon’s Manservant” is a must-read for fans of humorous fantasy. It offers a unique twist on the genre with its sarcastic hero and fast-paced action. It’s a book that will make you laugh, keep you on the edge of your seat, and leave you eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series.

Condemned Book 1: A Progression Fantasy LitRPG Series (Lord Valevsky: Last of the Line) by Vasily Mahanenko

“Condemned Book 1” by Vasily Mahanenko is a riveting tale of survival, honor, and revenge set in a meticulously crafted fantasy world. The narrative follows Maximilian, the last of the noble Valevsky lineage, who is thrust into a life of hardship and danger after his family is executed for an alleged plot against the Duke of Odoevsky. Stripped of his title and possessions, Maximilian is condemned to serve as a doomed soldier, fighting against the dark god Skron’s mutated creatures on the front lines.

The book is a masterclass in character development, with Maximilian’s transformation from a nobleman to a hardened warrior being particularly compelling. His journey is fraught with challenges and perils, but his unyielding spirit and thirst for revenge keep him going. The author’s portrayal of the protagonist’s struggle is both realistic and engaging, making the reader root for Maximilian every step of the way.

Mahanenko’s world-building is another highlight of the book. The author paints a vivid picture of a world teetering on the brink of chaos, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and survival is the only thing that matters. The dark god Skron’s mutated creatures add a layer of horror to the narrative, making the stakes even higher for Maximilian.

The plot is well-paced, with a perfect blend of action, suspense, and drama. The author does an excellent job of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, with unexpected twists and turns that keep the narrative fresh and exciting. The book ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the reader eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series.

In conclusion, “Condemned Book 1” is a captivating read that will appeal to fans of fantasy and LitRPG. With its compelling protagonist, intricate world-building, and thrilling plot, it’s a book that’s hard to put down. It’s a testament to Mahanenko’s storytelling prowess and a promising start to the ‘Lord Valevsky: Last of the Line’ series.