Dark Victorian Fantasy

READING LIST: Dark Victorian Fantasy

One of the hardest questions to answer (for me) is when someone requests "a book like the Night Circus." It's a pretty unique novel, with a specific tone and atmosphere that are difficult to find anywhere else. I've worked on building an answer to this question for years - and it's still a very short list. In order to qualify, I required the books to (1) be set in the Victorian era, (2) contain a supernatural element that we could define as fantasy, and (3) fit into the dark, gothic aesthetic that I love so much.Dark Victorian Fantasy 

Books I haven't read yet (so little time! so many books!) but which I know belong on this list thanks to trusted recommendations (all of these are on my personal TBR): 

Titles that are out of print, but which I consider relevant: 

  • A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle series) by Libba Bray 
  • Sorcery and Cecelia; or, the Enchanted Chocolate Pot (this is technically set in the Regency period but the vibe is perfect) by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

I've tried to steer clear of horror, for the most part, but I did include a number of mysteries. I think of horror as being told from the perspective of the victim, whereas the same story, told from the perspective of someone "solving" the crime, is what I think of as a mystery. It's a pretty blurry line for a lot of these (like Dracula, and Interview) but I did my best to steer clear of books whose entire purpose is to terrify the reader. 

Honorable mentions: 

  • A Natural History of Dragons (I adore this book but it isn't very dark, so it doesn't quite qualify as Dark Victorian Fantasy) 
  • The Phantom of the Opera (technically, there is no supernatural element, so it isn't fantasy - but it sure feels like it belongs here) 
  • Courtney Crumrin (a graphic novel series) 
  • Good Faeries, Bad Faeries (if Brian Froud isn't dark victorian fantasy, I don't know what is - but he doesnt write novels, so he's in the honorable mentions) 
  • The Historian (since it's set in modern day, it really doesn't count, but it's got the right vibe)
  • Cordelia Underwood (Moosepath League series) 

<< Back to Blog

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9780316402415
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Orbit - April 1st, 2014

Buffy meets Jane Austen in the first book of this wickedly funny NYT bestselling series about a young woman whose brush with the supernatural leads to a deadly investigation of London's high society.


Staff Pick Badge
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Novel Cover Image
$16.15
ISBN: 9781635576726
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - August 11th, 2020

In the Hugo-award winning, epic New York Times Bestseller and basis for the BBC miniseries, two men change England's history when they bring magic back into the world.


Jackaby Cover Image
$8.46
ISBN: 9781616205461
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - August 25th, 2015

“Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” —Chicago Tribune

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings.


The Infernal Devices, the Complete Collection: Clockwork Angel; Clockwork Prince; Clockwork Princess Cover Image
$35.69
ISBN: 9781481456609
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - September 1st, 2015

All three books in the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy, are now available together in a collectible paperback boxed set. The books have gorgeous new covers, maps, forewords, and bonus content.

Passion. Power. Secrets.


A Curious Beginning (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1) Cover Image
$12.75
ISBN: 9780451476029
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Berkley - July 12th, 2016

The New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries returns once more to Victorian England and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.... 


The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) Cover Image
$7.64
ISBN: 9781423186922
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - August 26th, 2014

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes.


Cordelia Underwood: Or the Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League Cover Image
$16.10
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781608935185
Published: Down East Books - January 1st, 2016

Step back in time to Portland, Maine, in 1896. When the young, beautiful, redheaded Cordelia Underwood inherits a parcel of land from her seafaring uncle, it sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the unearthing of a family secret two centuries old.


Staff Pick Badge
The Night Circus Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9780307744432
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Anchor - July 3rd, 2012

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Two starcrossed magicians engage in a deadly game of cunning in the spellbinding novel that captured the world's imagination. "Part love story, part fable ... defies both genres and expectations." —The Boston Globe


Staff Pick Badge
Dracula: Deluxe Edition Cover Image
By Bram Stoker, Edward Gorey (Illustrator)
$34.00
ISBN: 9781454944218
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Union Square & Co. - November 23rd, 2021

A collector's edition of the most famous vampire novel of all time, illustrated with the artwork of Edward Gorey.


The Paper Magician Cover Image
$12.71
ISBN: 9781477823835
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: 47north - September 1st, 2014

"Charlie is a vibrant writer with an excellent voice and great world building. I thoroughly enjoyed the Paper Magician." --Brandon Sanderson, author of Mistborn and The Way of Kings


Staff Pick Badge
Where Dreams Descend: A Novel (Kingdom of Cards #1) Cover Image
$10.19
ISBN: 9781250204370
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Wednesday Books - June 8th, 2021

"Vibrant imagery, jaw-dropping set pieces, sizzling romantic tension, and unstoppable heroine Kallia bring this ambitious debut novel to spectacular life. Fans of Caraval and The Night Circus will be delighted!" - Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn


A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$9.34
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780385732314
Published: Ember - March 22nd, 2005

The first book in the critically acclaimed New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Gemma Doyle trilogy, the exhilarating and haunting saga from the author of The Diviners series and Going Bovine.


Staff Pick Badge
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1) Cover Image
$11.04
ISBN: 9780062382818
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 4th, 2018

A Kirkus Prize nominee and Stonewall Honor winner with 5 starred reviews! A New York Times bestseller!

Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR and the New York Public Library!


Staff Pick Badge
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (The Lady Trent Memoirs #1) Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9780765375070
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Tor Books - February 4th, 2014

Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age.


The Phantom of the Opera Cover Image
$5.10
ISBN: 9780486434582
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Dover Publications - April 22nd, 2004

The lights of the Paris Opera House dim and a lovely singer holds the audience spellbound with her enchanting voice. Two men are rivals for her love: one of them the beloved friend of her childhood -- and the other the terrifying opera ghost who haunts the theater and wields a strange power over the performer.


Good Faeries Bad Faeries Cover Image
$27.20
ISBN: 9780684847818
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 15th, 1998

"Once upon a time, I thought faeries lived only in books, old folktales, and the past.


Staff Pick Badge
Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: The Night Things Cover Image
By Ted Naifeh, Warren Wucinich (Illustrator)
$8.50
ISBN: 9781620104194
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Oni Press - June 27th, 2017

"Courtney Crumrin is a fun series, cover to cover." — School Library Journal

Courtney Crumrin grumbles about everything, but now she's really got something to grumble over. Having run out of credit cards, her parents are moving to the wealthy suburb of Hillsborough, to live rent-free with their creepy old uncle Aloysius.


Interview with the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles) Cover Image
$7.64
ISBN: 9780345337665
Availability: Warehouse, In Stock | Usually Ships in 1-5 Days | New
Published: Ballantine Books - September 13th, 1991

The spellbinding classic that started it all, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth—the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune