25 Books Similar to the Dresden Files

A digital artwork showcasing a boy standing on a giant book.

Readers took notice when Jim Butcher’s Storm Front was released back in 2000. Gone were the wizards of long beards and cloaks who seemed to live off air. Harry Dresden, he of the Dresden Files, wears a duster and doesn’t do hats (except on the covers). He had a job and had bills to pay. He wasn’t making potions or telling fortunes either. Nope, a detective.

Thus, Butcher was and is writing crime fiction and urban fantasy all at once. Lurking in the familiar grit of modern Chicago are vampires, faeries, goblins, and werewolves. Meanwhile, there is Dresden, trying to solve cases taking on both human clients and those of a more supernatural nature.

There is nobody like Harry Dresden but Harry Dresden. But there is a bountiful world of urban fantasy out there stretching boundaries and, sometimes, fighting crime and solving mysteries. Here are 25 suggestions for Dresden lovers to try. We’ve got private eyes, magical librarians, kick-butt antique collectors, hustlers, police officers, and more.

Table of Contents

The Invisible Library Series

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Novel)

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  • Author: Genevieve Cogman
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Mystery, Adventure
  • Awards: Two Hugo nominations
  • First Book Published: 2014
  • Books: 7 at present – begins with The Invisible Library

Meet Irene: librarian and spy. The secretive library she works for “liberates” books from alterative worlds to hold the universe together. Irene, her mysterious assistant Kai, and their detective friend Vale are routinely plunged into danger as they go on assignments. There are kidnappings, dragons, zeppelins, gangsters, werewolves, hackers, fae, and cyborg alligators.  

The Invisible Library series has a modern woman hero readers will love, and her sidekicks are fabulous. There is a contemporary James Bond slash Sherlock Holmes vibe going on, with a whole lot of something else. Booklovers will love how these stories don’t sit still, sliding from lands of steampunk to worlds of futuristic tech through library portals.

Rivers of London

Rivers of London

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  • Author: Ben Aaronovitch
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Detective
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2011
  • Books: 8 at present – begins with Rivers of London

Probationary Constable Peter Grants yearns to be a detective, but he’s not made the cut. Things change, however, when the only witness to a murder is a ghost. Peter thinks he’s lost his mind when the ghost begins talking to him until Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale appears. There is a whole division of London’s Metropolitan Police force devoted to magic and the supernatural.

This is Dresden Files goes to London, gets a job with the local police force, and acquires British humor. Peter is significantly less cynical than Dresden, however, but Nightingale provides balance to the sweetness. Also, lurking in the background to the British charm of the tales is a ruthless and brutal villain.

The Wormwood Trilogy

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, 1)

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  • Author: Tade Thompson
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Crime, Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Nommo (2017), Clarke (2019)
  • First Book Published: 2017
  • Books: 3 – Rosewater, The Rosewater Insurrection, The Rosewater Redemption

The trilogy begins with an alien invasion in London that spreads, eventually creating an impenetrable dome in Rosewater, Nigeria. Kaaro, an ex-thief, is now an S45 Agent with psychic abilities known as “sensitives.” Kaaro has been to the biodome and hopes never to return. But as sensitives begin dying, Kaaro’s investigation may lead him back.

This futuristic-science-fiction-detective-mystery-love-story-with-aliens trilogy is hard to categorize. It isn’t your typical urban fantasy or crime-fighting tale, or typical…anything. But there are secret agents, a time traveler, mutants, and a damaged and deeply flawed protagonist trying to survive in a gritty world.

October Daye Series

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye)

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  • Author: Seanan McGuire
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2009
  • Books: 17 – begins with Rosemary and Rue

October “Toby” Daye has never fit in, being only half human and half fae. Shunned by the Faeries world, the changeling tries to live a “normal life,” but all changes after the murder of Countess Evening Winterrose. Bound by a curse, Toby is forced into fae society in order to investigate.

Fans enjoy that Toby is not the most powerful and talented fae but a survivor who has baggage from a difficult childhood. They also appreciate that the case is genuinely interesting and not a flimsy plot device to simply have some action and excuse to meet various characters.

Kate Daniels Series

[Magic Bites] (By: Ilona Andrews) [published: April, 2007]

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  • Author: Ilona Andrews
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2007
  • Books: 10 – begins with Magic Bites

Wisecracking Kate Daniels, a mercenary, already had enough crap to deal with when someone or something offs her guardian. Searching for the killer in this post-apocalypse Atlanta, where technology and magic swing on and off at random, she finds herself way over her head. But backing down would mean leaving the killer free.

This series has some strong Dresden vibes, and we would not be surprised to hear the husband-and-wife duo are fans. But the post-apocalypse worldbuilding does something different, with this tension between technology and magic. Also, Kate’s character is its own sort of special hilarious bad-ass, with a filthy mouth, fabulous sword skills, and sensibly keeps her hair braided.

(All these characters fighting with their hair down, yet it doesn’t get lopped off, caught in something, or obscure their vision. How?)

Cheshire Red Reports Series

Bloodshot

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  • Author: Cherie Priest
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: None found for this series
  • First Book Published: 2011
  • Books: 2 – Bloodshot, Hellbent

Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red) might be a vampire, but that doesn’t mean she wants to hang out with them. She prefers focusing on her career as a world-renowned thief. But now the charming Ian Stott is asking for a favor: to find missing government files on secret biological experiments, the very ones that destroyed Ian’s sight. This is nothing like your basic B&E.

Fans call this dark urban fantasy the vampire version of Mission: Impossible. Readers also enjoy Raylene’s humor and the wide range of characters, including an Ex-Navy SEAL drag queen. 

Magic Ex Libris Series

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris)

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  • Author: Jim C. Hines
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Awards: 2012 Hugo for Best Fan Writer
  • First Book Published: 2012
  • Books: 4 – begins with Libriomancer

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer with a pet fire-spider named Smudge. He can reach into books and bring out magical objects and creatures. He’s living a pretty quiet life cataloging books until a bunch of angry vampires attacks him, and the Libriomancer founder is kidnapped. Now Isaac is on the hunt, with the help of Smudge and Lena, a motorcycle-riding and sword-wielding druid.

Hines has a gift for intertwining humor, geekiness, and action into one “solve a kidnapping” adventure. These books are lighter than the Dresden Files. But the humor and touchstones drawn from other speculative fiction reads make it a fun series for fantasy lovers.

Eric Carter Series

Dead Things (Eric Carter Book 1)

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  • Author: Stephen Blackmoore
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: None Found
  • First Book Published: 2013
  • Books: 7 – begins with Dead Things

Freelance necromancer Eric Carter never wanted to see L.A. again. He managed to stay away for fifteen years, but that all changed when his sister was murdered. Carter is going to find out who’s responsible and make sure they regret ever existing.

This urban fantasy has the air of a noir mystery with a side dish of revenge. Eric, the main character, is a Dresden-type investigator who also moonlights as a killer-for-hire. Hey, whatever pays the bills, right?

WebMage Series

WebMage (5 Book Series)

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  • Author: Kelly McCullough
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Cyberpunk
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2006
  • Books: 5, begins with WebMage


Ravirn, sorcerer, and child of the Fates, is a genius at hacking. But while trying to pass his college midterms, Great Aunt Atropos decides humans should no longer have free will. The situation leaves Ravirn at odds with one of the three Fates. Unfortunately, that’s only the start of his problems.

This action-packed urban fantasy combines tech with magic. There are gods, a webgoblin underground, snarky sarcasm, and a love interest.

Fated

Fated (Alex Verus 1)

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  • Author: Benedict Jacka
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published:
  • Books: 12 – begins with Fated

Alex Verus is a mage running a magic shop in London. He’s far from the most powerful mage around, but he does have the gift of foreseeing possible futures. This is why he knows the odds of surviving this next assignment are near zero.

Fans call this series the next best thing to The Dresden Files. Readers enjoyed that Alex can just spell his way out of woe and actually has to use his grey matter to get out of some sticky situations. Also, the side characters are well developed, and the villains are wickedly fun.

The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom

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  • Author: Victor LaValle
  • Genre: Horror, Urban Fantasy, Historical
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, Shirley Jackson (2017), BFA (2017)
  • First Book Published: 2016
  • Books: 1

It is 1920s Harlem, and Thomas Tester is just trying to pay the bills, hustling wherever he can. His latest job was delivering an occult tome to a sorceress in Queens, which gets the attention of two detectives and plunges Tom deeper into the world of magic. 

NPR named this retelling of Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” one of their Best Books of 2016. LaValle took the racist Lovecraft tale and reimaged it, making it a far superior (and arguably scarier) story. For Dresden fans that want to feel fear.

The Monsters and Men Trilogy

Blunt Force Magic (The Monsters and Men Trilogy)

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  • Author: Lawrence Davis
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Noir
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2018
  • Books: 2 of the 3 published – Blunt Force Magic, Destruction of Justice

Once upon a time, Janzen Robinson was an apprentice to those who fight supernaturals with sinister intentions. Now he is a courier living in Cleveland, Ohio. But his “normal life” is turned on its head with a Stalker is sent to use its dark magic to kill a young witch. The only way to save her will be to return to his role as a protector and reconnect with past friends.

This series brings out plenty of evil monsters, magic, and action to keep urban fantasy lovers’ attention. In addition, fans enjoyed Janzen’s brand of humor and grit as he struggles to help the witch, given he is not the most talented “savior.” The supporting characters also get big thumbs up in this well-paced read.

Vicki Nelson Series

Blood Price (Blood Books)

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  • Author: Tanya Huff
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 1991
  • Books: 7 – begins with Blood Price

Vicki Nelson, PI, feels compelled to cover the brutally murdered victim with her coat. Now she is on the case. But getting little help from her advisers has led her to ally herself with Henry Fitzroy, an illegitimate child of Henry VIII, who is also a vampire.

This paranormal detective series is set back in the days of land-line telephones. The retro story switches between the POV of Vicki and Henry and has a well-developed plot, although the action is not as fast-paced as some more modern urban fantasy tales. Some considered the latter a plus, as it gave more room for character development.

Parasol Protectorate Series

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series Book 1)

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  • Author: Gail Carriger
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Historical
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2009
  • Books: 5 – begins with Soulless

Alexia Tarabotti is not exactly a favorite in high society. She’s the daughter of an Italian, a spinster, oh, and she has no soul. Things get worse after she is attacked by a vampire and kills him. Now Lord Maccon is investigating it, and he’s a werewolf. An attractive werewolf. Who can be fun to team up with to solve mysteries and more?

This Victorian-paranormal-steampunk mystery involves wit, charm, and lots of treacle tarts. A cozy mystery for those that like dashing and attractive vampires, werewolves, and a hilarious heroine with a sweet tooth.

Bone Street Rumba Series

Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba)

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  • Author: Daniel José Older
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2015
  • Books: 3 – Half-Resurrection Blues, Midnight Taxi Tango, Battle Hill Bolero

Carlos Delacruz is not New York Council of the Dead’s most typical agent: half-dead, half-alive with no previous memory of life when he was fully alive. Now he’s after another inbetweener, a sorcerer who is summoning evil hordes to spread through the city. In a bid to uncover the leader, Carlos finds himself embroiled in a situation far more complicated than he’d ever dreamed possible.

Carlos is a foul-mouthed wisecracking narrator of this gritty tale that readers adored. Fans enjoyed the supporting cast of characters and the romance, too.

Felix Castor Series

The Devil You Know

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  • Author: Mike Carey
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Crime
  • Awards: Nominated for a BFA
  • First Book Published: 2006
  • Books: 5 – begins with The Devil You Know

Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist in London. He takes on what should be an easy ghost-hunting case at a museum. But instead, it unleashes an array of demons and ghosts, all wanting to kill him.

This noir mystery skates the line between horror and dark urban fantasy. While many hold Felix up as London’s Dresden, Felix is less “for the greater good” and more “save my own ass” type of guy. However, this is not a fast-paced read but a thoughtful book that spends time fleshing out the plot.

Magic for Liars

Magic for Liars: A Novel

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  • Author: Sarah Gailey
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2019
  • Books: 1

Ivy Gamble is not magically gifted like her estranged sister, Tabitha. But Ivy is forced to confront their relationship and aspects of herself she’s always denied when she’s hired to investigate a murder at the academy where her sister teaches.

This is not your Harry Potter chosen one tale. Nor is the detective some bad-ass. Ivy is a flawed and sometimes morally questionable character with deep insecurities. The mystery is there, but it is also a story of personal growth.

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters

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  • Author: Amanda Downum
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2015
  • Books: 1

Liz Drake is plagued with nightmares after her best friend Blake goes missing. He eventually turns up comatose in a Vancouver hospital. Blake’s new friends bring Drake into their world, but they are secretive. Soon it becomes clear that Drake can only save her friend by entering the dark side of dreamland.

This eerie tale, inspired by The King in Yellow, is atmospheric with its descriptive prose.  The intricate story weaves mythology with horror and magic. A slightly different read for Dresden fans.

Blood Magic Series

Blood Magic: The Complete Series: Blood Magic Omnibus: Books 1-6

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  • Author: J.T. Lawrence and M.J. Kraus
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, crime
  • Awards: None Found
  • First Book Published: 2018
  • Books: 6 – begins with The HighFire Crown

When Jacquelyn Denna Knight, wizard detective extraordinaire, seizes the job offered by the wealthy elf, Jax. Sure, it is strange that the opportunity came at midnight. Yes, it involves the most powerful vampire clan. But when a woman needs to make rent for her haunted apartment, what other option is there? She’ll just have to hope she can survive this case.

This fast-paced series is branded as a cross between The Dresden Files and Jessica Jones. There is humor laced in this butt-kicking urban fantasy where the private eye encounters everything from orcs to ghosts, to a ferret. Fans also enjoyed a slightly different urban setting inspired by Johannesburg, South Africa.

Detective Inspector Chen Series

Snake Agent: The Detective Inspector Chen Novels, Book One

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  • Author: Liz Williams
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2005
  • Books: 6 – begins with Snake Agent

Detective Inspector Chen is Singapore police’s snake agent who deals with supernatural and mystical investigations. This makes his colleagues distrust him. Adding to his problems is a patron goddess he’s managed to offend and a demonic wife who’s fed up with being left at home alone. Now he’s been paired with Seneschal Zhu Irzh, a Hell and Vice investigator, to look into the illegal trade of souls.

This is a more unique urban detective series where even Hell is a place to visit while doing police work. (Heaven has a bureaucratic department, too.) Readers enjoyed Chen and adored the supporting characters. Details such as an exorcist with chronic back pain and a highly memorable tea kettle are part of the reason this series has such fans.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo

A Dead Djinn in Cairo: A Tor.Com Original (Dead Djinn Universe)

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  • Author: P. Djèlé Clark
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Historical
  • Awards: Nominated for a Locus and Hugo
  • First Book Published: 2016
  • Books: 1

Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi is tasked with investigating a suicide. The case takes her through the underbelly of 1912 Cairo, encountering ghouls, assassins, and clockwork angels.

In this alternative history, Egypt freed itself from colonizers after magic was discovered. This quirky steampunk landscape produces an interesting storyline that left readers wanting more after finishing the novella.

Craft Sequence

Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence)

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  • Author: Max Gladstone
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Mystery
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2012
  • Books: 6 – begins with Three Parts Dead

Tara, a first-year associate in the necromantic firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, is assigned to bring back a dead god before His city collapses. Her assistant, Abelard, is a chain-smoking priest having a crisis of faith. But their search for the truth may put all the value in danger, including their own lives.  

Fans of this series adore the imaginative storyline, worldbuilding, and characters. Part mystery, part courtroom drama, this intriguing fantasy series brings a unique flavor to urban fantasy.

Shadowchasers

Shadow Blade

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  • Author: Seressia Glass
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2010
  • Books: 4 – begins with Shadow Blade

By day Kira Solomon is an antiquities expert. But her real job is being a Shadowchaser for the Gilead Commission who eliminates any Fallen who cause problems. Of course, the Gilead is not without its problems, full of bureaucracy. But at present, her biggest complaint is whoever is causing havoc in Atlanta as it seeks a four-millennia-old Egyptian dagger that Kira happens to have in her possession.

This book is great for anyone obsessed with ancient Egyptian mythology. Reads also enjoyed Kira’s combination of intelligence and butt-kicking, and her power of psychic abilities makes her lonely.

The Chronicles of St Mary’s

Just One Damned Thing After Another

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  • Author: Jodi Taylor
  • Genre: Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Adventure
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2016
  • Books: 14 – begins with Just One Damned Thing After Another

“History is just one damned thing after another,” writes Taylor in her time-traveling adventure series. Here, at St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, the researchers actually go back in time to see history as it happens. But soon, that is far from all they are doing, as sinister elements put the project in peril.

This time-traveling saga bounces around and is full of action. This isn’t so much an urban detective series as a “try to survive” while doing a unique job of exploring history at its source. The job is dangerous even without the other conspiring factors. Fun reads for history buffs who love adventure.

Bobby Dollar Series

The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar

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  • Author: Tad Williams
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Noir
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2012
  • Books: 3 – The Dirty Streets of Heaven, Happy Hour in Hell, Sleeping Late on Judgement Day

Bobby Dollar is an angel who advocates for souls stuck between Heaven and Hell. He’s also suspicious of his superiors and those he works with. The only one who seems to tell him the truth is Countess of Cold Hands, a demon whose motives should definitely be questioned. When souls start disappearing, the situation goes from shaky to bad. 

This is for Dresden lovers who are also up for butt-kicking angels. There is humor, action, and twists. Fans love the wealth of snark in this series.

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