10 Fantastic Steampunk Fantasy Books You Can’t Miss

What are steampunk fantasy books? These are novels set in fantasy worlds inspired by the 19th-century, usually Victorian England. They typically feature steam-powered machinery along with elements of the era’s unique fashion, culture and more.

Are you eager to explore stories like this? If so, today’s post is for you.

Here are 10 fantastic steampunk fantasy books to read:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each one of these fantasy novels. 

On the other hand, here’s a comparison chart if you’d prefer a quick summary.

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsey Buroker


Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads.

But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed. 

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down.

Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills…or someone wants her dead. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.03

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

First on our list of steampunk fantasy books is The Emperor’s Edge. Readers who enjoyed this fantastical adventure mentioned how colorful, witty and entertaining the characters were.

Bursting at the seams with a light, fun tone, readers praised this steampunk epic fantasy as a delight. In addition, the slow-burn romance between the two leads had plenty of humor that kept fans grinning.

Negative Comments

So what did critics say? It turns out that the same fun tone that appealed to fans had the opposite effect on critics. 

The Emperor’s Edge doesn’t take itself too seriously, which meant that positive reviewers didn’t mind that the political backdrop and technology weren’t further detailed. Negative reviewers, though, felt that without more explanations, it was difficult to accept some aspects of the plot.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May


One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale.

She’s a stunner.

Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title — and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.

But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean — the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans — and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.

Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons — from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols — ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.

The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder — but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.76

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of steampunk fantasy books is The Falconer. A fast-paced steampunk fantasy, this novel captured fans’ imaginations with its refreshing historical setting, complex protagonist and slow-burn romance.

These readers described this story as having a lightning-fast pace and exciting action. Moreover, many of them were delighted by how different the world was. Its blend of magic and technology intrigued them, as well as its dark and deadly atmosphere.

As for Aileana, the protagonist, these readers praised her for seeming so multidimensional. Filled with rage and grief, she was both sympathetic and admirable to them. On one hand, the ghosts of her past spurred her to become a deadly protagonist they loved to follow. On the other, her healing and growing confidence warmed their hearts.

Related to this, fans remarked that Aileana’s love interest, Kiaran, seemed like just the right person to help her to overcome her weaknesses. At the same time, he struck them as a cunning warrior as well as an understandable and complex character in his own right. Seeing the two fall in love and work together was one of The Falconer‘s highlights.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, so what did these readers say about The Falconer? For the most part, they cited two reasons for disliking the book.

The first reason critics gave was that they didn’t connect with Aileana. For some, she struck them is a standard ‘badass’ protagonist, with not much to differentiate her. This made it difficult for them to see her as a flesh-and-blood character. Others thought she didn’t express enough of her emotions for them to get a strong sense of who she was.

The second reason critics gave was that they thought the romance between her and Kiaran developed too quickly. The two of them knew each other before the events in The Falconer, but readers tended to feel that the backstory formed the bulk of its development. As such, during the story events themselves, the relationship didn’t grip them.

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas


It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Books Cover of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation — or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm.

It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane.

But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission — and her life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The Burning Sky is third on our list of steampunk fantasy books. Readers said that this fantasy novel takes a variety of beloved Young Adult fantasy tropes and blends them together for an entirely unique and exciting experience.

The story world features elemental powers, mythological creatures and elite boarding school drama.

As for the romance, The Burning Sky pairs the powerful mage protagonist, Iolanthe, with the agenda-driven Prince Titus. Readers frequently remarked that Iolanthe delighted them with her backbone, but also through her cleverness and back-and-forth banter with Titus. She adapts well to her difficult circumstances and refuses to self-pity.

In the past, YA fantasy readers have voiced their frustrations with protagonists who let their romantic feelings cloud their judgement – especially when something as serious as the fate of a kingdom is at stake.

Because of this, readers often made a point of saying that both Iolanthe and Titus didn’t follow this pattern. While their attraction grew, they didn’t let it derail them from their greater missions.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Burning Sky say?

Generally, readers expressed similar sentiments: they disliked both Iolanthe and Titus as characters. Because of this, they couldn’t get invested in their romance.

Why was this? Well, critics of The Burning Sky characterized Iolanthe as a Mary Sue: a character so perfect at all she does and in her attributes that it’s unbelievable.

These readers said that Iolanthe’s ‘Chosen One’ status defined her. She was strong in the sense of being highly competent. However, she didn’t have dreams, hopes or fears of her own that were unrelated to her foretold destiny.

As for Titus, critics said that ultimately, he bothered them as a romantic prospect. He’s set up as a good person who only feigns a spoiled and manipulative persona.

However, these readers said that after a while, this didn’t seem like a mask. Instead, it seemed like his true face. As such, they thought that the story used the characters’ physical attraction to each other to avoid addressing important relational issues.

Dragon Wing by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman


Ages ago, sorcerers of unmatched power sundered a world into four realms — sky, stone, fire, and water — then vanished. Over time, magicians learned to work spells only in their own realms and forgot the others.

Now only the few who have survived the Labyrinth and crossed the Death Gate know of the presence of all four realms — and even they have yet to unravel the mysteries of their severed world. . . . 

In Arianus, Realm of Sky, humans, elves, and dwarves battle for control of precious water — traversing a world of airborne islands on currents of elven magic and the backs of mammoth dragons. But soon great magical forces will begin to rend the fabric of this delicate land.

An assassin will be hired to kill a royal prince — by the king himself. A dwarf will challenge the beliefs of his people — and lead them in rebellion. And a sinister wizard will enact his plan to rule Arianus — a plan that may be felt far beyond the Realm of Sky and into the Death Gate itself.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of steampunk fantasy books is Dragon WingAn epic fantasy blended with science fiction, this story delighted readers with its unique world and fascinating, awe-inspiring settings. 

Dragon Wing was also filled with likable, complex characters. Many of them contrasted each other in a way that made each member of the cast’s individuality stand out.

Readers often said that these characters were what engrossed them in the tale and made the story a delight to read.

Negative Comments

So what did critics say? Typically, these readers said that they couldn’t connect with the characters.

Some said this was was because there seemed to be too many of them. Because of this, they found it difficult to get to know any single one deeply enough to feel attached.

Others, though, said they didn’t find the characters especially interesting overall.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik


Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.

Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle.

For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.06

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of steampunk fantasy books is His Majesty’s Dragon. This character-driven tale twists the dragon rider concept by transforming the lone warrior into a fleet.

Readers said that the team-like atmosphere, camaraderie and moving bonds between dragon riders and dragons warmed their hearts. They came into the story to experience the slow-building relationship between dragon and dragon rider, and His Majesty’s Dragon delivered.

In addition, readers also praised the story’s portrayal of aerial combat. They described these as detailed and considered, taking into account technological challenges springing from the story’s historical influence.

Negative Comments

What about readers who didn’t enjoy the novel? Critics generally said the story had little tension or conflict. While His Majesty’s Dragon focuses on the relationship between dragon rider and dragon, even that struck these readers as progressing too easily.

On the other hand, some readers said that the characters themselves struck them as bland. Because of this, they couldn’t get engaged with or invest in them.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab


Kell is one of the last Antari — magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes — Red London — and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.09

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of steampunk fantasy books is A Darker Shade of Magic. This novel grabbed readers’ attention with its characters and their sparklingly vibrant relationships with one another.

Fans praised the character cast, whose members all had different aspects to them that they liked. For instance, while many mentioned liking Rhy because of her fierceness, several readers remarked on how much they bonded to Kell.

Along the same vein, watching these characters they loved interacting and coming to trust each other was a treat for these readers. Whether it was the dynamic between Lila and Kell or Rhy and Kell, fans described their relationships as beautiful.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, so why didn’t these readers like A Darker Shade of Magic?

In general, these readers said the story didn’t evoke emotions in them. Some said that this was due to the writing style, while others said that they couldn’t get a clear picture of who the characters were. As a result, they couldn’t connect with them and get invested in the story.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger


It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners – and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy.

Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. 

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage – in the politest possible ways, of course.

Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.81

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of steampunk fantasy books is Etiquette & Espionage. This novel entertained fans with its lighthearted adventure tale and its fascinating steampunk world.

According to these readers, it’s a fun story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, peppered with humor and charm. Moreover, they described the school and the world as reminding them of a spy version of Hogwarts. While the book features the manners, dress and expectations of a Regency and Industrial-inspired society, its supernatural elements created an intriguing magical atmosphere.

Lead through the story by intelligent, spirited characters, readers found exploring Etiquette & Espionage’s unique world a delight. 

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Etiquette & Espionage, what did they say? Typically, critics focused on the book’s plot. Some described it as slow, while others thought that nothing much happened.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


Magic is dangerous — but love is more dangerous still. Discover the riveting first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever.

Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters — including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to.

Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them….

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.33

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of steampunk fantasy books is Clockwork Angel. Filled with a vibrant character cast and world, this novel grabbed fans straight from the beginning. Many mentioned how much they enjoyed its blend of historical fiction and steampunk fantasy, saying it gave a rich and compelling twist to a classic coming of age tale.

Aside from that, readers praised Clockwork Angel for its character cast, which they described as engaging and likable. They struck fans as witty, well-fleshed out and differentiated. Each added a new perspective or insight, for instance, to what happened in the story.

Other readers said that Tess was a highlight. Describing her journey from naive and shy to determined and mature, several said she was easy to relate to and even admire.

Negative Comments

What did critics dislike about Clockwork Angel?

Overall, these readers tended to have two reasons. The first tended to say that the character cast seemed too similar to those in other Cassandra Clare novels. Others said they disliked Tess, the protagonist, for being superficial or rude.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron


When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum.

But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.78

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of steampunk fantasy books is The Dark Unwinding. This novel captured readers’ attention with its Gothic mystery tale and its protagonist, Katharine.

In terms of the world, readers described it as a fantastic blend of steampunk and historical fiction, all wrapped in a darkly enchanting atmosphere. Paired with evocative prose, this book transported fans into its pages.

In addition, readers praised Katharine, saying she impressed them with her bravery, toughness, and devotion to her family. Some mentioned the romance between her and Lane as well, saying that it sweetened the story and did not overtake it.

Negative Comments

What did critics say about The Dark Unwinding? In general, these readers focused on either the pace of the story, which they described as slowing after the beginning, or Katharine. In terms of the latter, some described her as rude, which made it difficult for them to like or connect with her.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones


Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate.

But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle.

To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl — and herself — than first meets the eye. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.28

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Last on our list of steampunk fantasy books is Howl’s Moving Castle. Why did fans find this story captivating?

These readers typically praised its characters, saying all of them came across as refreshing and offered a different reason to like them. In particular, Sophie and Howl won these readers over. Many described having the odd couple combination of the capable, no-nonsense Sophie with the vain, spoiled Howl as a delight to read about.

In addition to that, these readers said that the romance between the two of them not only worked, but touched them. Seeing Sophie and Howl grow as characters as well as in their feelings for each other warmed fans’ hearts.

Negative Comments

As for critics, they generally tended to say that not much happened in Howl’s Moving Castle. These readers perceived the novel as dragging out its storyline.

10 Fantastic Steampunk Fantasy Books You Can’t Miss

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?

10 Fantastic Steampunk Fantasy Books You Can’t Miss

Related: Top 10 Fantasy Books About Other Worlds You Can’t Put Down

N.S. Mirage

I'm Natalie, an avid fantasy reader here to help readers find exciting, otherworldly books.

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