26 Best Grimdark Books

Art by Kai Lim

Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre that is particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent. Its protagonists tend toward the conflicted antihero, and its worlds are often brutal and nihilistic. The writing also tends to be much grittier and realistic. A whimsical quest to get the magic doohickey this is not.

The slightly overwrought term is inspired by the tagline of the tabletop strategy game Warhammer 40,000: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”

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Review: Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson

There’s a sub-sub-sub genre of books out there I’ll call “Baffling Worlds.” The main character is in a world so bizarre and with such strange rules that it’s not clear whether they’re on an alien planet, in a magical landscape, or in a surreal dream. The focus of the book is not on character development or having adventures, but in the reader slowly learning about how this strange world works. Hearts of Oak is one of these books.
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23 Best Fantasy Mystery Books

We like mystery because life is mysterious, and storytelling exists to help us figure out how to live. Mysteries help us figure out how to deal with the unending avalanche of unknowns in our own lives (probably not directly, unless you deal with dead bodies a lot).

Some say that mysteries are popular because people like puzzles. Well, I like a certain kind of mystery, but I’ve never been a puzzle person.

I like Raymond Chandler mysteries, the hard-boiled detective who fights to stay alive while prowling dark alleys and darker minds. Often, I don’t care that much about the final reveal of who the real criminal is. It’s the journey, the tortuous path that I like.

In fantasy especially, the who-dunnit can easily become a what-dunnit.
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