22 Dark Fantasy Romance Books That Put The Dark in Dark Fantasy

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Take a walk on the dark side with these dark fantasy romance books. From hidden magical societies with deadly secrets to mysterious towns with dark, eerie pasts, these darkly complex romantic fantasies are brimming with romance, magic, and intrigue.

Not only will they sink their claws into your mind, but they will undoubtedly satisfy all those dark desires.

To Bleed a Crystal Bloom by Sarah A. Parker

As the sole survivor of a bloody massacre, 20-year-old Orlaith is haunted by the memories of that night. If not for the enigmatic High Master Rhordyn who took her in as his ward, Orlaith would have fallen victim to her nightmares long ago. 

After 19 years, her feelings have blossomed into something all-consuming, yet all the more unrequited. And when it comes to Rhordyn, nothing is ever easy. 

Shrouded in shadows and secrets, Orlaith must step out of her comfort zone if she ever hopes to begin playing the game if she ever hopes to step out of the dark.

Mysterious, addictive, and enticing, To Bleed a Crystal Bloom is a seductive dark Rapunzel retelling that will keep you entranced from the very first page. If you’re looking for a dark fantasy romance overflowing with angst, magic, and intrigue, this is one of the best books to add to your TBR list.

Gild by Raven Kennedy

Despite being plucked out of the slums and given safety and security within King Midas’s golden court, Auren knows it is all a smoke screen – a gilded cage. 

For nearly a decade, she has lived behind those gold-crusted bars in complete acceptance, knowing nothing could harm her from the outside world. However, that trust is put to the test when war makes its way to those golden gates and leads to a deal that changes everything.

From bestselling author Raven Kennedy comes Gild, a highly addictive romantic fantasy overflowing with romance, magic, and intrigue.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 

When criminal prodigy Kaz Brekkar is offered the once-in-a-lifetime chance at an impossible heist to earn an insane amount of money, he jumps at the chance. 

But to successfully carry out this deadly mission, Kaz needs to recruit the best crew the Barrels can provide: the dangerous assassin known as the Wraith, the gambling sharpshooter, the brains of the operation, the Grisha who can kill with a single look and a hunter trained to kill Grisha. 

Breaking into the world’s most impenetrable fortress to rescue an important prisoner should be a walk in the park… 

What is arguably one of Leigh Bardugo’s best dark fantasy books, BookTok knew what they were doing with this page-turner. Captivating and action-packed, Six of Crows is a riveting, heart-pounding read perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir and Sarah J. Maas.     

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Following a coup led by his half-brother, war hero, and heir to the Akielos throne Damon Akielos is captured, shipped off to the rival kingdom of Vere, and sold into sexual servitude. To make matters worse, his new master is none other than the prince of the enemy nation. 

Beautiful, calculating, and vindictive, Prince Laurent is a master at mind games. When he unwittingly lands himself with his rival, a fact that he is unaware of, as a pleasure slave, he embarks on the biggest mind game of all – a mind game that will spell their ruin.  

Dark, intense, and controversial, Captive Prince is a highly addictive dark fantasy MM enemies-to-lovers romance overflowing with betrayals, political intrigue, deadly secrets, and dangerous games.  

Savage Lands by Stacey Marie Brown

An unrequited love. An arranged marriage. And an unforeseen betrayal. 

Brexley Kovacs has nothing to lose. Not after learning of her future nuptials to the abusive son of the prime minister. 

As a last hurrah, Brex finagles her best friend Caden into an adventure that would end with her imprisoned in the infamous Halalház – the House of Death. 

In a place feared by seasoned soldiers and civilians alike, Brex must fight to survive the Hell that will become her life.

If you love dark slow-burn fantasy romance books with heroines that can take down battle-seasoned warriors with the flick of her wrist (well, maybe not the flick of her wrist), check out Savage Lands. You won’t be able to stop reading, especially after the cliff-hanger.

King of the Shadow Fae by Amelia Hutchins

Xariana Anderson was raised to be a fighter. And for twenty-three years, she managed to climb through the ranks of the hunter guild to secure her spot as one of their best. 

Everything falls apart when her father finds himself kidnapped, and Xari is forced to assume leadership.

Questioned at every turn, Xari must not only defend her home against the increasing attacks but prove herself capable as a leader. 

And when Kieran Knight crosses her path, the egotistical enigma promises her nothing but pain, pleasure, and possession. 

But Xari refuses to be owned.

Exciting, steamy, and action-packed, King of the Shadow Fae is an enticing dark fantasy enemies-to-lovers romance overflowing with deadly magic, nonstop twists and turns, and powerful villainous heroes.

Hollow Heathens: Book of Blackwell by Nicole Fiorina 

Following a particularly unsettling correspondence from her grandfather, Fallon Grimaldi returns to Weeping Hollow, a town she has not stepped in for 24 years.

Upon her arrival, Fallon learns that the stories from her childhood are true: witches exist, Weeping Hollow might have a mind of its own, and magic is not simply a thing of fairy tales. 

The one person Fallon never saw coming was Julian Blackwell. As one of the four Hollow Heathens, Julian suffers from a wicked curse that demands he wears a mask at all times, lest he wants to scare a person to death.  

Magical, dark and mysterious, Hollow Heathens is a spellbinding witch romance filled with cursed boys, warring covens, and forbidden love. You do not want to miss this eerie read because it is one of the best dark fantasy romance books.

Land of the Beautiful Dead by R. Lee Smith

In a post-apocalyptic world plagued by the undead, Lan is simply trying to survive.

When her mom falls prey to the zombies, Lan ventures to the walled city of Haven where Azrael, the Lord of the Beautiful Dead, resides to end his reign of death. 

In this darkly twisted version of Beauty and the Beast, you can expect a post-apocalyptic world dominated by zombies and ruled by the Lord of the Beautiful Dead.

As one of the best dark fantasy romance books, I recommend sinking your claws into this page-turner because it might end up becoming your new favorite reimagined fairy tale.  

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

Gabriel de León is the last of the Silversaints, an order dedicated to bringing an end to the eternal night. Imprisoned for murdering the vampire king, Gabriel is charged with telling his story which involves a forbidden love and the Grail, a fabled cup foretold to end the reign of the vampires.

Jay Kristoff’s latest novel, Empire of the Vampire, will excite many fans of Interview With the Vampire. And as one of the best dark fantasy books, you cannot go wrong with this page-turner. 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Set in a village plagued by a deadly evil known as the Wood, Agnieszka and every other young girl grew up knowing that one of them would be swept away by the Dragon, the wizard who keeps the evil at bay. 

Everyone believed that it would be the beautiful and sweet Kasia that would be his tribute.

However, no one is more surprised than Agnieszka when she learns that the Dragon has his sights set on someone else.

Heartbreaking, moving, and darkly enchanting, Uprooted is a breathtakingly beautiful romance that is undoubtedly one of the best dark fantasy books on the market.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

As a maiden, Poppy’s life has never been her own and that one day, the gods would lay judgment on the future ruler and decide whether she is worthy of ascending. 

But when a dashing guard enters her life, Poppy begins to question everything. And when a fallen kingdom forsaken by the gods emerges from the shadows, Poppy quickly finds herself on the brink of losing it all. 

From Blood and Ash is an unputdownable tale that centers around a nineteen-year-old girl at risk of losing her heart to the villain of her story. For an exciting slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance between two star-crossed souls, this is one of the best dark fantasy romance books to add to your TBR list.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Every year, six of the most powerful magicians get a chance to compete for a prestigious spot within the secret society of gifted magic practitioners. This year, the chosen few include the following six initiates: Libby, Nico, Parisa, Callum, Reina, and Tristan. All powerhouses in their own right. 

The catch?

Only five will make it to the end. 

Overflowing with deadly magic, intrigue, hidden secrets, and characters that practically jump off the page, The Atlas Six is dark academia at its best.  

City of Thorns by C.N. Crawford

Grad student Rowan Morgenstern did not expect to wake up in a dank dungeon on the night of her twenty-second birthday, but fate has other plans.

When her path crosses with the enigmatic Lord of Chaos, Rowan’s life takes another unexpected turn. Mistaken for her succubus doppelgänger Mortana, it is not till he tastes her blood that he learns that she is mortal.  

Tied together for their mutual thirst for vengeance, the two strike a deal: While posing as the sexy succubus, Rowan will have the chance to hunt for her mother’s killer. And she will do anything to get her revenge.

Mysterious, thrilling, and sexy, City of Thorns is an enthralling slow-burn romance between a tantalizing demon lord and a mortal who needs more than a couple courses in the art of seduction. It is undoubtedly one of the best dark fantasy romances of 2021, so be sure to add it to your bookshelf right away. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

After a chance encounter with a wolf places Feyre in deep waters with the fae, Feyre is swept away to a magical kingdom where she is to live out the rest of her human life. Held captive by the mysterious green-eyed Tamlin, Feyre finds herself growing feelings for her jailer. But the question remains: What is he hiding behind the mask he refuses to remove? 

ACOTAR is a captivating Beauty and the Beast retelling that brings us an epic slow-burn romance filled with magic, adventure and intrigue. If you can’t get enough of the enemies-to-lovers trope, A Court of Thorns and Roses is one of the best dark fantasy romance books to add to your shelf. 

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

A mysterious benefactor. A secret society. A deadly ritual. 

Hidden behind the ivy-laced walls of Yale is a society of one-percenters that have a hand in more than the stock exchange. They also dabble in magic.

Former drug user and high school dropout Galaxy “Alex” Stern may be Yale’s most peculiar Freshman, a fact she is all too aware of upon being plucked off the streets of Los Angeles and given a full-ride to the prestigious school. 

Determined to uncover what led to her unexpected acceptance, Alex soon discovers that it is all because of her ability to engage with ghosts. Thrust into the secret underground of Yale society, Alex must learn how to navigate the deadly halls if she ever hopes to survive her first year of college. 

Darkly complex, impossibly mysterious, and eerily creepy, Ninth House is an unputdownable must-read from Leigh Bardugo, the bestselling author of Six of Crows. As one of the best dark fantasy books on the market, you cannot go wrong with this page-turner.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

At seven, Jude’s entire life imploded, leaving her orphaned and reliant on her kidnapper after being whisked away to live in Faerie. 

At seventeen, Jude wants nothing more than to fit in, despite her own mortality. But many of the Fae despise humans, especially the youngest son of the High King. However, the tides are changing. 

Swept into a deadly game of politics, Jude must stay one step ahead to come out victorious. 

Filled with scheming royals, political minefields and magical intrigue, The Cruel Prince is perfect for anyone on the market for a slow-burn romance between a wicked fae prince and an ambitious human girl. And as one of the best dark YA fantasy romance books, you need to add this to your bookshelf.

Broken Bonds by J. Bree

Ever since the accident that left her orphaned and penniless, Oleader Fallows has been on the run. Returning home was never in the cards for Oli. Those plans quickly disintegrate when she’s caught and forced to face her Bonds, the men she left behind. 

Leaving Atlas, Gabe, Gryphon, North and Nox was one of the toughest calls she’s had to make. Returning may just break her. And once she breaks, no one will be safe.   

Looking for an unputdownable paranormal reverse harem that will keep you up well past your bedtime? Broken Bonds is the answer to your prayers. 

As one of the best dark fantasy reverse harem romance books from 2021, I recommend adding it to your TBR list pronto. 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is a magician, one of the rare few who travel between the parallel London: Red, Grey, White and Black. Raised in Red London, Kell serves as an ambassador for the Maresh Empire and frequently travels in and out of the Londons to pass along messages and smuggle artifacts. 

When a trip to White London goes awry, Kell finds himself in possession of a dangerous stone from Black London, a world closed off after a deadly magical apocalypse swept across the city and ravaged the lands. And when the stone falls into the hands of Delilah Bard, Kell’s life will become forever intertwined with the thief from Grey London. 

Filled with evil, power-hungry rulers, forbidden magical artifacts and thrilling adventures, A Darker Shade of Magic is a spellbinding read that boasts a unique magical system and an incredibly slow dark fantasy romance that complements the plot.

Seraph by Lily Mayne

In a post-apocalyptic world overrun by monsters, Lilac is a raider with a killer instinct – an instinct that has kept him and his fellow raiders safe from the deadly beings wandering the Wastes.   

Despite his ease with murder, Lilac does not relish the kills. And if there ever were a kill that would break through his notoriously cool mask, it would be Seraph’s, the unstable monster who lives in a constant state of pain after being rescued from the clutches of a cruel monster collector.

Lilac knows that the humane thing to do is to kill him. However, with each passing night that he guards his cage, Lilac can see that there is a person beneath the agony – one who faced the unimaginable at the hands of the military. 

And once Lilac learns of the true extent of his torture, nothing in the world will keep him from Seraph or allow another to harm him ever again.

Hauntingly beautiful, emotionally powerful, and unimaginably sweet, Seraph is a monster romance that will leave a mark on your monster-loving heart. Lily Mayne is a true expert in her craft, and Seraph, alongside her other new releases, will go down as the best dark monster and fantasy MM romance books of 2022.

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

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows the long and lonesome life of Addie LaRue, a young French girl born in the early 1700s. In 1714, she brokers a deal that unequivocally changes the course of her life and sends her on a lonely, unending road of invisibility.  

BookTok is overflowing with unputdownable books, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of their best yet. Thought-provoking, complex, and beautifully told, V.E. Schwab delivers a mesmerizing tale that is utterly unforgettable. 

Playing with Monsters by Amelia Hutchins 

After an ugly breakup, Lena left her coven in the rearview mirror.

Now she’s back and finds herself a reluctant participant of The Harvest, a magical witch mating tradition that introduces her to the mysterious Lucian Blackstone. 

When strange things begin happening, intrigue turns into fear upon realizing there is much more to Lucian than what originally meets the eye.

Witches, demons, and fae, oh my! Playing With Monsters is a dark witch romance perfect for anyone who loves watching heroines transform from naive to badass individuals who can kick ass. 

The Awakening by Caroline Peckham

When twin sisters Tory and Darcy Vega discover that they are a part of a hidden magical realm, their lives are turned upside down.

Thrust into the cutthroat world of Zodiac Academy, the two must learn how to navigate the treacherous halls before it’s too late.

Thrilling, addicting and fun, Zodiac Academy is an exciting fae romance riddled with magic, danger, and intrigue. If you’re obsessed with fantasy enemies-to-lovers books, you’ll love Zodiac Academy.