Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen

Blood of Deception by Vincent G. Bivona, A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, and more. Cap off the middle of the year with this selection of dark fantasy novels.

Dark fantasy is a fantasy subgenre that has been quietly growing in popularity. It is primarily known for incorporating the elements of horror and suspense and its recurring themes of death, darkness, and evil. 

Why is darker fantasy growing in appeal?

The popularity of dark fantasy is its use as a method for exploring the darker aspects of reality and of human nature in general. It is a means by which readers can confront their fears and their apprehensions without the debilitating consequences of real-life hammering down on them.

Dark fantasy novels are vehicles for portraying morally ambiguous characters and for examining what it means to be actually moral in a seemingly amoral world. Dark fantasy is a perfect escape to experience catharsis and release while still engaging with a rich and complex landscape.

Regardless if it’s the fear of the unknown or the thrill of conducting something forbidden, dark fantasy provides a playground for people to explore these emotions and more in a safe and controlled way.

But perhaps the greatest aspect that dark fantasy possesses is its ability to help readers delve deep into the human psyche, witness its dark excesses and emerge from the undertaking with a better understanding and comprehension of themselves, the role of humanity, and the broader conventions of society.

What to read this June, if you’re looking for something to dark.

Without further ado, don your black cloaks, sheathe your dagger, and calm down the dark spirits. Here is ReadersMagnet’s June list of dark fantasy novels that everyone needs to read:

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Perhaps the most popular entry in the list, A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, is where it all began. As the first installment of the wider Song of Ice and Fire Saga, A Game of Thrones is one of the most well-known and beloved dark fantasy stories out there. It helps that it also has an equally, if not more, HBO adaptation.

While A Game of Thrones might read like a cliché of medieval fantasy, it is anything but and darkly and wonderfully subverts many of the tropes that make up the whole of the fantasy genre.

In the pages of A Game of Thrones, you will find magic, mystery, political intrigue, and romance. It is simply the perfect novel to delve into with fantasy and dark fantasy specifically.

Blood of Deception by Vincent Bivona Jr.

The first volume to a planned trilogy, Blood of Deception by Vincent G. Bivona Jr., is an exemplar of the dark fantasy genre–with a prominent emphasis on the “dark.”

In a world where dark gods exist and constantly prey on the living creatures of the world, the world of Tamora is one that is in constant strife and cycles of destruction and murder.

In Blood of Deception, heroism is merely nominal, and who you’ll want to win in the end will be a question that hangs over your head for a long time.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Another first novel in a series, The Gunslinger by Stephen King is one of his most important works and follows the story of the eponymous gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, as he walks across a desolate world, which eerily mirrors the real world, in pursuit of The Man in Black.

With its realistic and dreamlike atmosphere, The Gunslinger melds the horror that Stephen King is widely known for with the memorable tropes of Westerns and contemporary fantasy.

The Gunslinger is the brilliant beginning of a stellar magnum opus by one of the modern-day’s best authors.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This may be the oddest one on the list since it’s not intended for older audiences. Coraline by Neil Gaiman is the story of a young girl trying to understand herself and her place in the world by discovering a hole in her new house that leads to a dark world that is a twisted copy of her own.

Coraline is a marvelous example of how the genre is not only for adults but for young children as well. It explores themes and ideas that are as equally dark but delivered so that a young reader understands them fully. If you are an adult, you should also read Coraline.