Cozy fantasy is my new favorite genre and I say that as someone who is typically a bigger fan of dark fantasy books. I cannot get enough of this fantasy sub-genre.
Like I talked about in my post about my favorite dark academia books, cozy fantasy books were another sub-genre I had enjoyed before but didn’t have a name for it for so long. Having a name for it is like — YES okay cozy fantasy reads are exactly what they are.
With cozy fantasy, at least my opinion and experience with what I categorize as cozy fantasy, is typically lower stakes, lighter and maybe even more whimsical. Most of the cozy fantasy books are very feel good for me and seem to be more character centered.
So often when I read fantasy, like I said above, it’s darker and more epic in scope and sometimes it’s just nice to settle into a fantasical or magical world but without the darker themes or high stakes.
I always walk away from these books feeling cozy or like I’ve slipped into a warm hug!
Anyways, I could wax poetic on the genre but that’s what cozy fantasy is in my view.
I don’t think there are any hard and fast definitions or lines for it — even within my favorites there is a range with the stakes and themes but they all remain on the lighter and cozy end regardless if they are more slice-of-life or have a little more adventure.
So, let’s get to it and talk about some of my favorite cozy fantasy books and what new cozy fantasy reads I’m looking forward to.
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Best Cozy Fantasy Books To Read
My Recommended Cozy Fantasy Reads
Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater
At A Glance: cozy fantasy romance, Regency, fairytale vibes, faeries, Ton season
If you are an audiobook fan — I am going to first recommend this on audiobook because I really enjoyed this on audio. Definitely going to be an audiobook I recommend a lot!
This is the first book in the Regency Fairytale series and it is such a fantastic romantic cozy fantasy book. If you like non-steamy Regency romances but also are a fantasy girlie — this is for you!
It’s about a young woman who, after an encounter with a faerie who cursed her as a child, she only has half a soul and has been quite the outsider because of the way it changed her personality.
She’s reluctantly whisked off to London for the season to help her beloved cousin find a husband (though her cousin has some of her own motives for this trip) and she meets the grumpy and not-well-liked Lord Sorcier.
The Lord Sorcier is powerful and eventually decides to help her figure out her condition once he finds out more about it. But as their connection grows, so does the danger when they get close to answers about the condition as well a mystery the Lord Sorcier has been seeking answers to.
If you are a (cozy) fantasy girlie as well as Regency romance girlie, I need you to read my latest obsession that I JUST finished on audiobook (highly recommend!) and cannot wait to devour the next 2 books.
There are some ~slightly~ dark undertones involved but it was very much cozy fantasy to me.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
At A Glance: faeries & fae folklore, academia, snowy & rural wintry setting, slow burn romance
Oh I just fell in love with grumpy Emily and eccentric Wendell, the townsfolk, the fae folklore and the setting — a perfect Wintry read!
While I normally like my academia to be of the dark academia type, I really enjoyed this story of academic rivals who are studying & researching faerie folklore in a small town in the snowy far north and get swept into some dark fae magic that is affecting the small town they are staying in.
In the beginning I got a little bogged down with the folklore and academia portion of it but once I got into the book it really picked up and I was deeply invested in Emily reluctantly finding answers to what is happening in the town (rather than solely focusing on just her research) and the journey that lead to.
Seriously, curl up with this cozy wintry fantasy with a warm blanket and a hot cocoa! I personally am dying for the sequel which comes out in early 2024!
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
At A Glance: witches, magic, found family, romance
This one is a PERFECT cozy Fall read! It is just downright delightful and I can’t stop recommending it especially for fans of The House in the Cerulean Sea! A good read if you are looking for something more light and easy too!
It’s about an orphaned witch who has lived a pretty solitary life in order to not draw attention to herself or her magic — only getting to meet with fellow witches on occasion as it’s too risky for witches to gather.
But her secret rebellion is that she has an online account where she pretends to be a witch and assumes nobody takes it seriously but are just there for the ~vibes~.
Until one day, thanks to her videos, she gets a message seeking her help in the training of 3 young witches at a place called Nowhere House where they reside along with 5 adults who have taken on the job as their caretakers.
Knowing it’s a risk and against the rules, she accepts the position and makes her way to Nowhere house where she finds this tight-knit group and the young witches who desperately need her help in controlling their magic or be put in danger.
As she settles in and finds a place where she just might be able to belong with this rag-tag group (even despite some pushback for her outsider status), she discover another threat that could risk the safety of her newfound family.
The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
At A Glance: found family, magical children, orphanage, feel-good read
One of my most favorite books ever and definitely one of my top books I read in 2020! I recommend this book all the time — even to people who aren’t so sold on fantasy books. Just so whimsical and like a hug in book form.
It’s the story of Linus Baker — a stickler for rules and being by the book — and the assignment that changes his life when he’s sent on a highly classified assignment (for his job with the Department in Charge of Magical Youth) to an island where six magical and labeled-as-dangerous child live with their caretaker and must stay a time to help them deice whether the orphanage needs to be shut down.
I loved watching Linus try so hard to do his job to the T but get swept up into the lives of these children and their secretive caretaker as he sees things aren’t so black and white. I loved the romance between Linus and Arthur as well as the warm and fuzzy found family vibes.
The Undertaking of Hart & Mercy by Megan Bannen
At A Glance: zombie-like undead creatures, demi-gods, enemies to lovers, You’ve Got Mail vibes
Ooh this unique cozy fantasy world was so immersive as was the enemies to lovers, pen-palling romance (with some mild spice).
You’ll meet Mercy (an undertaker trying to keep her family’s failing business afloat) and the grumpy & lonely zombie-hunting marshal named Hart who really get under each other’s skin when they have to have business dealings but have no idea that the other is who they’ve been confiding in anonymously through letters.
Summers At Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
At A Glance: young adult, coming of age, standalone, medieval feeling fantasy, castle/court life, political intrigue
Such an underrated cozy fantasy book that I haven’t stopped yapping about since I read it in 2016! It’s young adult and such a hidden gem you might have missed.
It’s about a young girl named Corrie — also the illegitimate daughter of a deceased noble– who spends most of hr life in the village with her grandmother but in the summers she lives at Castle Auburn spending time with her half-sister, uncle and other family members — including the prince who she has a crush on.
Her summers are always magical and enchanting but as she starts to come of age her summers at Castle Auburn change and the layers are peeled back to show her a lot of the things that have always been at play — political maneuvering, flaws of people she loves, the nobility’s use of the Aliora ( a faerie like people) as servants and more.
It’s really a fantastic little coming of age cozy fantasy that is so underappreciated! Feels like the books of my childhood!
Something Close To Magic by Emma Mills
At A Glance: young adult, adventure, missing prince, royalty, enchanted woods, for fans of Gail Carson Levine
One of my most anticipated YA books for 2023 from one of my favorite contemporary YA authors — her first foray into fantasy — and it’s such a good YA cozy fantasy!
It’s about a baker’s apprentice, with an old-fashioned and rare magic skill, who is reluctantly roped into using her skill to find a hapless prince from the dangerous Underwood in what turns out to be the adventure and quest of a lifetime.
A delightful quest and adventure, an intriguing magic system and fun banter!
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
At A Glance: high fantasy, small town setting, queer, foodie things (ahhh the descriptions), found family/community, creatures like Orcs, Succubi, elves & more
I would probably not have picked this one up had I randomly seen it — honestly for the cover — had people not raved about it on Instagram. A really solid slice-of-life cozy fantasy recommendation that feels like a warm hug!
It’s about an orc named Viv who wants out of the barbarian warrior life she’s had for decades and plans to set up shop in Thune with the first ever coffee shop in the city.
Hoping to trade swords for coffee for good, she must digger deeper realizing this endeavor is an uphill battle — with old and new rivals getting in the way and the little fact that nobody actually knows what coffee is there — and must learn to trust in strangers &new friends to succeed instead of going in alone.
If you don’t like slice-of-life books, this cozy fantasy might not have enough in it for you but it is such a feel-good read!
New Cozy Fantasy Books To Read In 2024
A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall
Out April 23, 2024
At A Glance: cozy fantasy romance, magical academia, underwater fantasy world, penpal romance
I’ve heard the vibe of this book is Emily Wilde but underwater!
“A beautiful discovery outside the window of her underwater home prompts the reclusive E. to begin a correspondence with renowned scholar Henerey Clel. The letters they share are filled with passion, at first for their mutual interests, and then, inevitably, for each other.
Together, they uncover a mystery from the unknown depths, destined to transform the underwater world they both equally fear and love. But by no mere coincidence, a seaquake destroys E.’s home, and she and Henerey vanish.
A year later, E.’s sister Sophy, and Henerey’s brother Vyerin, are left to solve the mystery, piecing together the letters, sketches and field notes left behind—and learn what their siblings’ disappearance might mean for life as they know it.”
What are some of your cozy fantasy books (young adult or adult!)? It’s definitely a newer interest for me so I’d love all the recommendations I can get!
P.S. Check out my latest fantasy-related post: Best Fantasy Romance Books