5 Gripping Fantasy Crime Books to Read

Are you looking for fantasy crime books to read, featuring dark worlds and maybe even darker protagonists? If so, look no further.

Here are 5 fast-paced fantasy crime books to read:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each one of these high fantasy books. On the other hand, here’s a comparison chart if you’d prefer a quick summary.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch


An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist.

As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman 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.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.30

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

First on our list of fantasy crime books is The Lies of Locke Lamora. Readers who rated this fast-paced novel highly commented on its great dark humor, as well as how fun the schemes and the gang’s camaraderie was to read.

Others mentioned that they liked that the author didn’t shy away from making the world-building violent or dark; it gave a sense of realism and depth.

Negative Comments

On the other hand, readers who didn’t rate The Lies of Locke Lamora highly often mentioned that they found it lingered too long on descriptions of the world. To them, it felt like digressions.

The story is also told from both the present and the past – readers either perceived this as either increasing the tension or interrupting the fast-pace.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price — and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.46

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

A second fantasy crime book readers enjoyed is Six of Crows. Fans of this novel often said that they enjoyed how the story had a unique character cast, featuring people from all different walks of life. It added uniqueness to all of the characters, while also introducing themes of class and race.

Other readers remarked that they liked how action-packed and full of witty banter the story was.

Negative Comments

What did critics of Six of Crows say? In general, they commented that with so many lead characters, it was hard for them to connect with more than one or two.

It also sounded like they thought there were too many elements in the story that made it difficult for them to suspend their disbelief. For instance, these readers often mentioned that the high fear, praise and success Kaz has, even for a criminal prodigy, seemed unfounded.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks


For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.16

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Readers who enjoyed The Way of Shadows remarked that the story was fast-paced, gritty and brutal, yet didn’t glamorize the violence and cruelty of Azoth’s world.

Readers also commented that Weeks took character types that were familiar to them and gave the characters nuance through their personal and moral struggles.

Negative Comments

Readers who didn’t rate The Way of Shadows highly commented that they thought Weeks’ use of familiar character types made the characters too similar to other fantasy stories.

Some also mentioned that they thought that Weeks’ plain writing style made it difficult to get drawn into the story.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa


To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them — the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend — a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for again.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Readers who enjoyed The Immortal Rules said that they enjoyed this new, dystopian spin on vampires and a post-apocalyptic world.

Kagawa commits to portraying vampires as predators while not making Allison’s struggle to adapt either melodramatic, on one hand, or sanitized, on the other.  They also mentioned that there were great action scenes and Kanin, Allison’s vampire mentor, intrigued them.

Negative Comments

Readers who didn’t rate The Immortal Rules highly mentioned that the story starts off fast-paced, but slows down in the middle before picking up speed again. Other readers said that they didn’t find the romantic sub-plot – a light presence in the story – particularly compelling.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu


I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever.

A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was.

Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars — they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king.

As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society.

This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle.

But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

And last on our list of fantasy crime books is The Young Elites. Fans praised the novel for giving them Adelina, this story’s teen protagonist. She may battle a sense of worthlessness, but she’s ultimately a determined, ambitious and formidable character.

In addition, others mentioned that they liked the fascinating cast and appreciated that the romantic sub-plot was kept light.

Negative Comments

As for critics, those who didn’t rate The Young Elites highly said that they found it difficult to connect to Adelina.

They mentioned that the ‘dark’ aspect of her character came across to them as meanness rather than moral weaknesses or complexity. As such, it was hard for them to get invested in her story.

Other said that while they found the story’s premise interesting, they found it difficult to get emotionally invested in it.

5 Gripping Fantasy Crime Books to Read

How Do These Fantasy Crime Novels Compare?

5 Gripping Fantasy Crime Books to Read


N.S. Mirage

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

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