Playlisted The Best Urban Fantasy Audiobooks Incorporating wild fantasy with familiar city settings, these urban fantasy audiobooks are truly the best of all worlds. By Staff Dec 16, 2020 Urban fantasy is a melting pot that borrows all the best elements from our favorite genres to create truly unique worlds where anything is possible. With components of paranormal, noir, suspense, mystery, thriller, romance, and (of course) fantasy, these stories are unbelievably vivid and colorful, bursting with magic while remaining rooted in city settings we know and love. These 20 titles range from romances and historical dramas to gritty noir mysteries, but they all have one thing in common: the perfect blend of reality and realms beyond, offering a sweep-you-off-your-feet story that will make your own world melt away. Storm Front stop Storm Front By Jim Butcher Narrated by James Marsters 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. This genre-blending thriller combines urban fantasy with the supernatural—not to mention a healthy dose of crime. As the first in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front introduces us to Harry Dresden (voiced by the Juilliard-educated, Earphone Award-winning James Marsters), a professional wizard and part-time private investigator who’s sorely in need of money when he’s called in to help Chicago police with a grisly murder. It’s only when Dresden recognizes there’s black magic involved that the case becomes truly dangerous. The noir thrills combined with a dark paranormal edge make Storm Front addictive; luckily for listeners, 14 more installments to the series await, with two more scheduled for release this year. Magic Bites stop Magic Bites By Ilona Andrews Narrated by Renée Raudman 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. In Magic Bites, Ilona Andrews builds out a version of the supernatural world where magic levels rise and fall like the tides—and impact everything around them whenever they do. When magic levels are high, the world’s technology fails, leaving electricity grids dead and cars stalled on the road. When magic is low, essential defensive spells fail, leaving entire communities vulnerable. In this volatile atmosphere, Kate Daniels has her work as a mercenary cut out for her. Hardened by years of violence, Daniels’s gruff attitude is played perfectly by Renée Raudman—especially when her mentor is murdered and she’s unwittingly thrust into a dangerous pursuit for justice. Moon Called stop Moon Called By Patricia Briggs Narrated by Lorelei King 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. As far as unique protagonists go, Mercy Thompson is a standout. The Tri-Cities, Washington resident is a tough and talented car mechanic...who also happens to be able to shapeshift into a coyote. In fact, many of Mercy’s acquaintances are paranormal entities, from gremlins to vampires and beyond. Through the nuanced performance of prolific voice and screen actress Lorelei King, the listener can hear Mercy’s tough exterior soften when, reminded of the werewolves who once raised her as one of their own (before shunning her for starting a forbidden interspecies relationship), she takes in a boy werewolf in need of her help. The act of kindness, however, has unintended consequences that places Mercy and her local community of supernaturals in danger, forcing her out of her cozy mechanic’s life and into an adventure to save herself and those she loves. Neverwhere stop Neverwhere By Neil Gaiman Narrated by Neil Gaiman 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. As both author and narrator, Neil Gaiman is always a sure bet, having crafted classics like Coraline and American Gods. In his debut novel, an English everyman named Richard Mayhew trips into a dystopian fantasy world after playing Good Samaritan to a tragically injured young girl he encounters on the street. As a result, he’s pulled into an alternate underground London called Neverwhere, where the girl in distress is royalty who needs his help to save her world. As tender as it is thrilling, the story is brought home by Gaiman’s incredibly loving narrative touch, which brings the fatherly relationship central to the story to life. Rosemary and Rue stop Rosemary and Rue By Seanan McGuire Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. It’s rare to come across a Hugo Award-winning audiobook whose narrator is also a Hugo Award winner in her own right, but that’s exactly the case with Rosemary and Rue, whose narrator is Mary Robinette Kowal, author of the multiple award-winning story, The Calculating Stars (which also appears on our list of best science fiction audiobooks). The first in the October Daye series, Rosemary and Rue transports listeners to San Francisco—but the San Francisco that October (or, as she prefers, Toby) knows is unlike any that we humans have ever encountered. In Seanan McGuire’s gritty paranormal urbania, the Faerie world and human world exist side-by-side. As a half-human, half-fae changeling, she struggles to find acceptance in either community. Toby vows to quit Faerie life altogether...until the sudden murder of a fae noblewoman living in secret forces her to take up her former position as a knight protecting a Duke of the faerie world. Hounded stop Hounded By Kevin Hearne Narrated by Christopher Ragland 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Atticus O’Sullivan serves up all of the paranormal qualities we seek in a top-notch urban fantasy protagonist, with an added side of sharply funny personality. Though he looks 21, Atticus is actually 21 centuries old, and the last of Druid-kind—which makes narrator Luke Daniels the perfect match for the character (with 250 audiobooks recorded and 13 Earphone Awards under his belt, Daniels boasts accomplishments far beyond his years). Atticus lives a quiet life, running an occult bookshop and using his shape-shifting abilities only recreationally, choosing to keep to himself as much as possible—until, that is, an angry god tracks him down. As a reluctant Atticus is pulled back into active supernatural duty, he allies with other gods, vampires, and werewolves in an adventure that sets the stage for all seven subsequent stories in the action-packed Iron Druid Chronicles. Skinwalker stop Skinwalker By Faith Hunter Narrated by Khristine Hvam 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Putting a modern urban twist on the traditional gothic of deeply haunted New Orleans, Faith Hunter’s Skinwalker—the first in the Jane Yellowrock series—follows a native Cherokee woman with shapeshifting abilities through her duties as a vampire hunter. It’s a job that Jane enjoys, until she’s hired by a vampire and suddenly finds herself allied with those she’s sworn to hunt. Narrator Khristine Hvam expertly imbues all of the story’s many southern characters with distinct personalities and characteristics, especially The Beast, a mountain lion with whom Jane is forced to share her body. As this assignment from her new vampire client complicates Jane’s world, she’s pushed further outside her comfort zone and forced to explore her own identity, tribal heritage, and past in order to complete her mission—and stay alive. Midnight Riot stop Midnight Riot By Ben Aaronovitch Narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Kicking off the Rivers of London series (which was the debut novels’s original title when first published in the UK), Midnight Riot is the dryly funny, sprawling adventure story of a young up-and-coming police officer named Peter who accidentally stumbles into the world of magical police work after an accidental run-in with a ghost. Narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith instills the protagonist with a cool, impossible-to-ruffle demeanor, and Peter’s distinctly British stiff-upper-lip attitude makes this a refreshing entry in the typically high-octane genre of urban fantasy. In no time at all, Peter is placed on a case involving both murder and magic that has him turning the London he thought he knew upside down in search of a supernatural killer. Sandman Slim stop Sandman Slim By Richard Kadrey Narrated by MacLeod Andrews 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Sandman Slim begins when James Stark is 30, but Stark’s story really began 11 years before, when his impressive natural magical skill got him kidnapped and sent to Hell to fight in a gladiator ring for Satan’s entertainment. Picking up after Stark’s escape, the first entry in the series finds the magician now working as a hitman in the gritty underbelly of Los Angeles and plotting the takedown of the ring of magicians that stole a decade of his life. Genius casting puts the gruff, cynical voice of MacLeod Andrews behind the mic as Stark, and his tone not only matches the character but brings the dark, noir setting of Kadrey’s world to life. First Grave on the Right stop First Grave on the Right By Darynda Jones Narrated by Lorelei King 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. This audiobook by Darynda Jones casts the Grim Reaper in a way we’ve never seen before: as Charley Davidson, a smart, sarcastic, sexy young woman who works part-time as a private eye alongside Albuquerque police and fills the rest of her schedule helping the dead pass through to the world beyond. Lorelei King plays Charley’s youthful charm and smart mouth with an ease that feels as though the part was designed for her, expertly ratcheting up the romance and suspense in equal measure as the plot progresses. In this first installment of the series, Charley is plagued by an entity that has been following her for years, making itself known in a way that none of her other ghostly clientele ever have. As she applies her P.I. skills to solving this mystery, she begins to suspect that her tormentor may not be dead at all—which is more frightening than the alternative. Friday Night Bites stop Friday Night Bites By Chloe Neill Narrated by Cynthia Holloway 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. This second entry in the Chicagoland Vampires series (we love the whole set, but this title is the one that really shines) takes place in a version of the Windy City where humans’ discovery of vampires’ existence is met not with fear, but an instant elevation of the undead to near-celebrity status. Having come to terms with her transformation into a vampire, our protagonist, a PhD candidate in Romantic Medieval Literature named Caroline Merit, now finds herself tasked with performing the role of paranormal PR, chosen by the master of her clan (the handsome and infuriating aloof Ethan) to manage the liaison between vampires and humans. It’s a deliciously smart take on a classic trope, and Cynthia Holloway’s instinctive adoption of Merit’s (and Neill’s) sense of sarcastic humor gives the whole story a delightfully updated intellectual twist on the genre. Dragon Bound stop Dragon Bound By Thea Harrison Narrated by Sophie Eastlake 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. The Elder Races series is a bonafide bridging of genres between urban fantasy and steamy paranormal romance. Narrator Sophie Eastlake is a veteran of the genre and a crowd-pleaser as the voice of the entire series—no small feat, since she plays both protagonist Pia Giovanni and the wide array of handsome male characters she’s destined to encounter throughout the collection’s nine-plus entries. Dragon Bound finds Pia, a half-human, half-Wyr (a diverse race of shape-shifters) in a situation all too familiar to many listeners: manipulated by a jerk ex-boyfriend into doing something she would otherwise never do. Pia steals a coin from a powerful and feared Wyr-dragon, who has no trouble tracking her down despite her best efforts to flee. Trapped by the terrifying (but admittedly sexy) Dragos Cuelebre, Pia is forced to confront a number of things she’s been avoiding...among them her own Wyr destiny. Something from the Nightside stop Something from the Nightside By Simon R. Green Narrated by Marc Vietor 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Many urban fantasies take place in a fictionalized version of a real city, but by inventing Nightside, Simon R. Green paints a version of London that’s truly unique. Detective John Taylor was born there, and has no desire to go back—he calls the dark, supernatural underbelly of the city a square mile of Hell. But Nightside is exactly where Taylor is forced to return when business slows and a client shows up asking him to track down a runaway. Narrator Marc Vietor brings the story’s noir mystery aesthetic to life, playing the protagonist with a deadpan sensibility that fits a hardscrabble London detective perfectly. And with 12 titles in the series thus far, Taylor’s return to Nightside is just the beginning of the suspenseful events to come. Kitty and The Midnight Hour stop Kitty and The Midnight Hour By Carrie Vaughn Narrated by Marguerite Gavin 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. The best urban fantasy stories strike the perfect blend of the fantastical with the truly ordinary. Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and The Midnight Hour balances these two worlds perfectly in Kitty Norville, a completely normal late-night radio DJ and Denverite...who also happens to be a werewolf. It’s a secret she keeps under wraps fairly easily—until she stumbles into trying to host a midnight talk show about the supernatural community without giving her own paranormal identity away. (It’s also a challenge for narrator Marguerite Gavin, who handles the task of voicing two- and three-way radio calls with ease.) At first, the show is a hit, but it’s not long before the positive attention draws Kitty into a few more nefarious characters crosshairs. God Touched stop God Touched By John Conroe Narrated by James Patrick Cronin 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. This truly unique take on the genre follows a protagonist who isn’t supernatural himself. Instead, Chris Gordon is an exorcist (when not walking the beat as a rookie NYPD cop)——whose gift comes directly from God. But it’s not all as wholesome as it seems, which becomes glaringly apparent when Chris saves a girl from a demon’s attack and finds himself the target of every supernatural baddy in the tri-state area. James Patrick Cronin plays Chris’s discovery of this otherworldly existence with the same bewilderment any listener would feel if their world was suddenly populated by demons, making it easy to relate to (and root for) the main character. And Chris is going to need all the support in his corner he can get, especially as he finds himself responsible for keeping not just himself alive, but his vampire girlfriend too. My Life as a White Trash Zombie stop My Life as a White Trash Zombie By Diana Rowland Narrated by Allison McLemore 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. They say authors often write what they know, which is why it makes perfect sense that former bartender, blackjack dealer, pit boss, street cop, detective, morgue assistant, and crime scene investigator Diana Rowland would craft an effortless success in her turn as an urban fantasy novelist. Her own gritty background is evident in the world building that surrounds Angel Crawford, a pill-popping high school dropout who gets a second chance when a car crash that should have killed her leaves her feeling very much alive—and with a craving for human brains. Allison McLemore’s fluent Southern Louisiana accent both fits the story perfectly and provides an almost musical quality to the audiobook, which flies by as a result. An Unattractive Vampire stop An Unattractive Vampire By Jim McDoniel Narrated by Drew Campbell 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. This hilarious post-Twilight Saga take on the vampire novel follows the challenges that face a more traditional member of the undead when he wakes from a 300 year long nap to discover that modern vampirism is just about unrecognizable. Despite his long and impressive pedigree as The Cursed One, The Devil's Apprentice, and He Who Worships the Slumbering Horrors, Yulric Bile can’t convince anyone that he’s a vampire because, well, he’s not hot enough. Drew Campbell gives a dignified, hilariously stuffy voice to the indignant Bile, who makes it his mission to reclaim his rightful place among the vampire elite. A Darker Shade of Magic stop A Darker Shade of Magic By V. E. Schwab Narrated by Steven Crossley 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. In the first of the Darker Shade of Magic series, V.E. Schwab introduces us to several parallel worlds and the dying breed of magicians called the Travelers who can move between them. Kell is one of these, formally assigned as an emissary of Red London, the magical counterpart to humans’ boring Gray London as well as the overthrown White London and the undiscussed Black London, which no one has heard from in years. As a messenger between worlds, Kell is well-positioned to run a side business as a smuggler, but it’s this secret enterprise that lands him in hot water when he’s accused of treason. Steven Crossley’s precise British accent and gruff vocal tone pull the listener effortlessly into Schwab’s worlds, swept away along with Kell in his flight to escape punishment that could spell trouble not just for him but for the Travelers’ entire race. Soulless stop Soulless By Gail Carriger Narrated by Emily Gray 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. This unique urban romp isn’t just a paranormal fantasy—it’s also a period piece whose main character, Alexia Tarabotti, is a soulless, parentless sophisticate struggling to navigate society in Victorian London. What’s worse, Alexia finds herself in hot water when she’s rudely attacked by a vampire, who she kills in self-defense, making her the prime suspect in a tear of vampire murders that’s plagued the city of late. Voiced in delightfully articulate and poised tones by Emily Gray, Alexia’s bubbly personality is put to the test when a loud, awful—and, fine, very attractive—werewolf named Lord Macron is sent to investigate. Along with the other four audiobooks in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless is a smart, sharp, and refreshing take on urban fantasy that goes down as easily as a treacle tart. Nightlife stop Nightlife By Rob Thurman Narrated by Patrick Lawlor 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. New York is a big city—but even in the metropolitan center of the world, it can be hard for a half-monster to remain anonymous. That’s exactly the challenge facing Cal Leandros and his half-brother Niko, who have been on the run for years evading the dark creatures to whom Cal is reluctantly connected. The monsters seek Cal to help them unleash their monstrous designs on the human world, and it’s up to Cal—and the cabal of miscellaneous paranormal New Yorkers he’s picked up along the way—to stop them. Narrator Patrick Lawlor brings an actor’s approach to storytelling to his performance, painting the city backdrops of Cal’s fight for life with all of the emotion and drama they deserve, making this a gripping urban suspense that keeps listeners hanging on every word. Selection MethodologyInclusion in Audible’s “best audiobooks” series is based on a number of factors, including presence on Audible best seller lists, listener ratings and reviews, Goodreads ratings, and input from the Audible Editors. All audiobooks featured here have a minimum of 500 reviews averaging at least 4.5 stars, with some exceptions made for outstanding stories and performances. 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