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Being sent to another world, living a new life and/or exploring whimsical worlds is usually what fantasy stories do best. The idea is to enthrall the reader with tales of intrigue and let them see a world not reachable by any means other than reading a fantasy tale. However, not all fantasy stories are alike. Often some fantasy light novels can take a dark turn into more mature and sometimes drama filled narratives. Do these types of dark fantasy light novels intrigue you? If so then maybe you’re going to enjoy our Top 10 Dark Fantasy Light Novels.
What is dark fantasy you might be asking? Well folks, we here at Honey’s Anime will fill you in. A good dark fantasy light novel will tell a story that is set in new worlds—some like ours and some quite different—that ultimately throw at the reader themes that are more adult like. From stories where heroes end up becoming filled with anger to plots that involve sacrifice. These are the type of themes and concepts found in a solid dark fantasy light novel. Below, we have ranked some of the best dark fantasy light novels you can read. If you are prepared for themes of death, loss and struggle then scroll on down to begin our Top 10 Dark Fantasy Light Novels list.
10. Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero)
- Authors: Aneko, Yusagi- Minami, Seira
- Genres: Fantasy
- Volumes: 17
- Published: Aug, 2013- Present
Iwatani Naofumi along with several others have found themselves in a strange new world. Having been summoned to wield mighty weapons and defeat evil, Iwatani should be considered a new hero. Unfortunately, while others gained strong weapons, Iwatani gained a shield. Seen as useless and far from strong, the heroes and king reject Iwatani and cast him out of the group. With anger welling in his heart, Iwatani is about to show the world what someone can do even with a shield as their primary weapon.
Imagine if you were in Iwatani’s shoes. Here you are transported from your world to a fantasy one and immediately seen as a reject because your weapon isn’t actually a weapon. You would be filled with bitterness like Iwatani we’re sure. That’s why while Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari may be a great fantasy light novel, the tale inside is equally filled with dark themes of anger and vengeance. Thus why we felt Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari was perfect for our Top 10 Dark Fantasy Light Novels list.
9. Shingeki no Kyojin: Before the Fall (Attack on Titan: Before the Fall)
- Authors: Shibamoto, Thores- Suzukaze, Ryou
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural
- Volumes: 3
- Published: Dec, 2011- Jun, 2012
Before Erin Jagger and his friends fought against the titan scourge, there were others that did the same. Many years ago humanity had begun trying to find a means of living their lives with the Titans outside the walls humanity had built even before them. However, with no weapons that were effective against the regenerating beasts, it seemed that extinction by the hands of the giant humanoid beings was all too imminent. Yet, a young man by the name of Aaltonen Angel would find a means of crafting a series of weapons that might be strong enough to give humanity a chance. Welcome to the story of Shingeki no Kyojin: Before the Fall.
Many people by now know about Shingeki no Kyojin. Most know that in this tale humanity has been trying to fight against the titans for hundreds of years. Though we also know that many people prior to Eren, Mikasa and Levi lost their lives trying to stop the titans. That’s what makes Shingeki no Kyojin: Before the Fall so dark, you know—like we do—that most of these characters in this tale aren’t going to survive. They are fighting with guns and weapons that will fail to defeat the titan enemies. However, because you’re a fan you’re still going to want to read Shingeki no Kyojin: Before the Fall to see that small silver lining in how the human race found a glimmer of survival in such a bleak world.
8. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (The Sunday Without God)
- Authors: Irie, Kimihito- Shino
- Genres: Mystery, Fantasy
- Volumes: 9
- Published: Jan, 2010- May, 2014
No one knows why God decided to abandon humanity 15 years ago. However, God’s departure from humans led to people being unable to die. While this seemed to be a gift at first, people began to realize that God has also taken away life. No new human beings could be born. As time progressed humanity began to realize that immortality carried many hardships and the only way to die was to be properly buried by beings known as grave keepers. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi follows a tale of a particular grave keeper known as Ai who travels the world after a terrible incident befalls her village.
Humanity has always wondered what it would be like to never die. What could you do with infinite time at your disposal? Well in author Irie Kimihitio’s dark fantasy light novel series known as Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi, you can find out. Ai’s adventure will show how humanity has suffered not being able to die and how the world is shattered by not having any new children to be born into it. We fully recommend Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi if you want to see a story about those who can’t die but how their hearts and minds have begun to perish slowly.
7. Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou
- Authors: Kougyoku, Izuki-Isono, Hiro
Mimizuku wants death to claim her. Branded with the numbers 332 on her forehead and chains around her feet and hands, she hopes to die by any means. Mimizuku’s desire leads her into the dangerous Forest of Night where monsters reside. Then as Mimizuku continues in the forest she happens upon the leader of all monsters known simply as the King of Night. Begging the creature to eat her, the king decides to keep her alive. Now Mimizuku must somehow formulate a way to convince the monster king to devour her and end her life permanently.
Usually fantasy light novels that have younger kids as protagonists are filled with happy tales of epic proportions. Though in Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou, author Kougyoku Izuki had other things in mind. This one volume dark fantasy story will show you a tale that may seem simple in theory but the actual execution is a complex tapestry of heartbreak and drama. However, trust us folks, Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou is a beautiful story that moved us to tears several times while reading through its pages. We knew that we needed to share this awesome story with all of you folks out there, so definitely go and read Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou.
6. Kuro no Maou
- Authors: Morino, Hiro- Hishikage, Dairi
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Harem, Seinen
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2011- Present
Kurono Maou has lived a typical life so far. Maou may not have a girlfriend or be super popular but he has enough in his life to be considered happy. Unfortunately his normal and okay life is to be shattered when he gets a painful headache and faints. Upon awakening, Maou notices that he isn’t at school anymore. In fact, it looks like Maou may not even be on his own world anymore.
Kuro no Maou seems at first like just you’re a typical isekai story. The main character just up and gets sent to a new fantasy world filled with magic and monsters. However, you’d be very wrong to think that Kuro no Maou is a cliché tale. Our main character may become a tough dude but he’s not going to get power without suffering some terrible pains. Kuro no Maou is still currently being published but at the moment folks we are thoroughly enjoying this dark narrative and we think you might agree with us if you try it for yourselves.
5. Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?
- Authors: Baba, Okina- Kiryuu Tsukasa
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Seinen
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2015- Present
Reincarnation is supposed to lead to good new lives right? Well, for a classroom of soon-to-be-killed-and-then-reincarnated students, this will prove to be an incorrect thought. Dying because of a battle between two powerful forces in another world, a young female student reawakens but not in a body she knows. In fact this once normal high school girl now has the body of a spider! Not wanting to die again, this small spider will show the world what it means to want to live.
Let’s be honest folks. Reincarnation seems to be a growing theme in fantasy light novels. However, when stories like Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka do it, you realize that you can take a now cliché trope and add some dark and original themes to it. Watch as a once normal girl—now turned spider—begins to descend into a dark world filled with death and fear. As we said, this isn’t your typical dark fantasy story and that’s why we knew we needed to have Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka on our Top 10 Dark Fantasy Light Novels list.
4. Shinigami wo Tabeta Shoujo
- Authors: Chomoran- Nanasawa, Matari
- Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Super Power, Military
- Volumes: 2
- Published: Dec, 2012
War changes everyone involved. Death, murder and hunger begin to take hold of people and shift their minds in horrible ways. This is all too true for a young girl named Zard Shera who feels herself starving. Then one day as she is about to be attacked by an enemy soldier she spots an odd figure who we learn is actually Death itself. Before Death can even react, Shera devours the being and now carries Death’s massive scythe. Shera joins the Kingdom’s army and decides to kill all enemies to get the chance at eating some great food…
Fantasy stories can be sometimes very odd. However, that same oddness allows for unique stories to be created for our reading entertainment. That’s why we love Shinigami wo Tabeta Shoujo. This dark fantasy and military light novel is only 2 volumes long but it explores the real darkness behind war and how it affects people. Though don’t expect Shinigami wo Tabeta Shoujo to be a normal examination of war as this is a dark fantasy story after all and it shows it once Shera begins her hunger filled death spree.
3. Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka?
In this world, humanity has become extinct after 500 years of fighting terrible beasts. For the beings that still survived, they took to the skies to build a new life in the clouds. However, try as they might, the various beings still feared the creatures down below. Using advanced sciences beings known as Leprechauns were created to wield mighty weapons capable of felling the creatures that still walked on land. This story though focuses on a young man found frozen, the now last surviving human. Known as Willem Kmetsch, he will be tasked with watching over several Leprechauns and learn that these young children will pay the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of others…
Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka Isogashii desu ka Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka—shortened to SukaSuka by fans—is easily one of the best examples of a dark fantasy tale. Filled with romance, comedy, death and sacrifice, SukaSuka is one of those stories that makes your heart soar in the sky with joy and then slams back it back into the ground. You will always be hooked as you read this tale though because you will want to know what happens next. That is why we knew while crafting this Top 10 Dark Fantasy Light Novel list SukaSuka was an easy choice. Get ready folks SukaSuka might be set in a cool world with flying fairies and giant sword wielding girls but it is also a dark fantasy that will show you what it means to lose things precious to you.
2. Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
- Authors: Nagatsuki Tappei- OOTSUKA Shinichirou
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Seinen
- Volumes: 13
- Published: 2012- Present
A trip to the convenience store is something most of us do on a daily bases. Though for a young man named Subaru this everyday normal trip would change his life quite quickly. Subaru finds himself outside the convenience store and then within a giant city square filled with beast humans. Subaru then realizes that he has been transported to another world! Unfortunately for Subaru, this new world may seem colorful and filled with possibilities but not all those possibilities will be pleasant ones for him.
Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu at times is a tale filled to the brim with normal and happy fantasy themes. You’ll find yourself laughing at Subaru trying to show that he isn’t fazed in the slightest by his odd predicament. However, before long you’ll realize that author Nagatsuki Tappei wanted to lure people in with what seemed like a regular isekai story. Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu will show you how dark a fantasy world can be when you begin to see Subaru’s struggles against various foes and his own powerful—yet seemingly cursed—ability to revive upon death. You’ll realize that within Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is a maddening fantasy tale of reliving death over and over till you get things right and for Subaru what he needs to accomplish isn’t something always easy to understand.
- Authors: Takeuchi, Takashi- Urobuchi, Gen
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Dec, 2006- Dec, 2007
For many years behind the scenes of man lies a war for a sacred artifact. The artifact in question is known as the Holy Grail. During what is known as The Holy Grail War, various magi fight with warriors of past lives to gain the artifact for themselves. If they should accomplish this, then the Holy Grail will grant the winner any one wish they have. Fate/Zero explores a new Holy Grail War that involves another slew of masters and servants as they fight to the death for the powerful artifact.
Ending our Top 10 Dark Fantasy Light Novels list is Fate/Zero. The story continued in this 4 volume work by author Urobuchi Gen is a tale of how a single goal and wish can cause men and women to do horrible things. While the setting may be a modern day Japan, the idea that something like this could actually happen in our world is utterly fantastical and thus why it’s the perfect dark fantasy story. Page after page, readers will get to experience a strong narrative with dark themes and great action that will leave you breathless as you read. Fate/Zero is an incredible dark fantasy story and not picking it up will be a big mistake, especially if you love stories that delve into mature themes such as sacrifice, love and justice.
Here at Honey’s Anime we love a good story. For us, when we read any tale—happy or sad—we get pleasure in seeing what an author and illustrator can accomplish. That’s why we love dark fantasy works because it changes the usual theme of the fantasy setting and makes for sometimes truly gripping tales you won’t see in your usual run of the mill fantasy plot. Have you ever read any of these works above or did you think we missed a few? Let us know in the comments and be sure to return here to Honey’s Anime as we continued working hard to find lists of light novels and other mediums so you don’t have to.