25 Best Modern Fantasy Books To Read In 2024!

In the vast landscape of literature, few genres captivate the imagination and transport readers to realms of wonder quite like fantasy. From epic quests to magical realms, modern fantasy literature continues to enchant audiences with its richly imagined worlds, diverse characters, and gripping narratives. In this article, we embark on a journey through the realms of imagination to explore the 25 best modern fantasy books that have left an indelible mark on readers’ hearts and minds. From beloved classics to hidden gems, join us as we delve into the enchanting tapestry of modern fantasy literature and discover new worlds waiting to be explored.

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Best Modern Fantasy Books

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

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The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction–but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

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In “American Gods,” Shadow emerges from a prison sentence ready to embrace a new life with his beloved wife, Laura. However, tragedy strikes just before his release, leaving him adrift and vulnerable. Offered a job by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, Shadow becomes embroiled in a world of ancient gods, magic, and intrigue. As Wednesday’s bodyguard and confidant, Shadow embarks on a surreal road trip filled with eccentric characters and supernatural encounters. Along the way, he uncovers long-buried secrets, confronts his own past, and discovers that a war for the soul of America is imminent. With the storm of destiny gathering, Shadow finds himself at the center of a cosmic conflict that will change the course of his life forever.

Storm Front – Jim Butcher

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As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put it mildly—stinks.

So when the Chicago P.D. bring him in to consult on a double homicide committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs.

The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

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Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. 

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

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It is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he discovers a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth.

Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

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In “City of Bones,” Clary Fray’s life takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she witnesses a murder at a New York City nightclub. The perpetrators, three teenagers with strange tattoos and weapons, vanish without a trace. Clary soon learns that they are Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to fighting demons. As she delves deeper into this hidden world, Clary discovers her own connection to it, including her newfound ability to see demons. With the help of the enigmatic Shadowhunter Jace, Clary embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about her past and rescue her kidnapped mother. But as secrets unravel and danger mounts, Clary realizes that her destiny is intertwined with the fate of the Shadowhunters, and she must embrace her newfound powers to survive.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing.

A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

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In “Game of Thrones,” the realm of Westeros braces for the impending threat of winter as House Stark, rulers of the North, grapple with both political intrigue and supernatural dangers. Eddard Stark, lord of Winterfell, navigates a web of alliances and rivalries as he hosts King Robert Baratheon and his entourage. Meanwhile, in the south, a power struggle unfolds following the mysterious death of the Hand of the King. As tensions rise and loyalties are tested, the exiled Targaryen prince, Viserys, seeks to reclaim the throne with the help of a nomadic army and his sister Daenerys. With multiple factions vying for power and the looming threat of mythical creatures beyond the Wall, the fate of Westeros hangs in the balance.

Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

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My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. And I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. Now I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

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In “Mistborn,” the oppressive rule of the Lord Ruler has lasted for a thousand years, plunging the land into darkness and despair. But hope is rekindled when Kelsier, a scarred and determined half-Skaa, discovers he possesses the powers of a Mistborn. With a daring plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler, Kelsier assembles a team of skilled allomancers, including the orphan Vin, who harbors her own dark past. Together, they embark on the ultimate heist, aiming not just for riches but for the downfall of tyranny itself. As they navigate a world of danger and betrayal, the fate of their rebellion hangs in the balance, challenging the very notion of prophecy and heroism.

The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

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An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges relentless danger, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentlemen Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.

The Fifth Season – N. K. Jemisin

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This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. With death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

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Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab

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France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

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Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins

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In “The Library at Mount Char,” Carolyn lives a seemingly ordinary life, enjoying simple pleasures like guacamole and cigarettes. But beneath the surface, she and her adopted siblings have been raised under the tutelage of a mysterious man they call Father, studying ancient texts in his library and mastering secret powers. When Father goes missing, Carolyn realizes that control over creation may be at stake. As she prepares for the impending battle, she faces formidable adversaries and discovers shocking truths about Father and the nature of their existence. Amidst the chaos, Carolyn must confront the danger of losing her humanity in the quest for power and control.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

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Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began. A child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

The Golem and the Djinni – Helene Wecker

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Compulsively readable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, in a wondrously inventive tale that is mesmerizing and unforgettable.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

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In the midst of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806, most people believe magic to have long since disappeared from England. Until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers and becomes an overnight celebrity.

Another practicing magician then emerges: the young and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s pupil, and the two join forces in the war against France.

But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wild, most perilous forms of magic. He soon risks sacrificing his partnership with Norrell and everything else he holds dear.

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

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According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes NutterWitch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon. Both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle. They are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro

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In post-Arthurian Britain, the wars that once raged between the Saxons and the Britons have finally ceased. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly British couple, set off to visit their son, whom they haven’t seen in years. And, because a strange mist has caused mass amnesia throughout the land, they can scarcely remember anything about him. As they are joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and an illustrious knight. Axl and Beatrice slowly begin to remember the dark and troubled past they all share.

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

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Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941. The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners. Three women and a young man with a past—whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.

City of Stairs – Robert Jackson Bennett

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The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions. Until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

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A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

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It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales. Here he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Modern Fantasy books?

Modern fantasy books encompass a wide range of imaginative and fantastical literature written in recent years, typically within the last couple of decades. These books often blend elements of magic, mythical creatures, alternate worlds, and epic quests.

What is the best fantasy book to read?

Determining the “best” modern fantasy book is subjective and often depends on individual preferences in terms of writing style, story elements, and personal connection to the narrative. However, some modern fantasy books have received widespread critical acclaim and have garnered large fan bases. Here are a few modern fantasy books that are often regarded highly:

  1. “Harry Potter” series – this series has captivated readers worldwide with its magical world-building and themes of friendship, bravery, and struggle between good and evil.
  2. “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin. – Known for its complex characters, intricate political intrigue, and epic scope. This series has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring the hit television series “Game of Thrones.”
  3. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. – Praised for its lyrical prose, rich world-building, and compelling protagonist, this novel has gained a devoted following and is often cited as one of the best modern fantasy debuts.
  4. “Mistborn” series by Brandon Sanderson. – With its unique magic system and memorable characters, this series has earned widespread acclaim from readers.
  5. “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch.- This novel is praised for its intricate heists, witty dialogue, and vibrant world-building. Making it a standout in the realm of fantasy literature.

Ultimately, the best modern fantasy book for you will depend on your personal tastes. Each of these books offers something unique and has contributed significantly to the modern fantasy genre.

Who is the best Modern Fantasy author?

As you may see from our list, we’re quite a big fan of Neil Gaiman!

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