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Dark Fantasy is a subgenre of Fantasy, which is "a genre of fiction set in a fictional universe." However, Dark Fantasy is unlike Fantasy in that it takes on a darker tone, as stated in the name.

A Dark Fantasy is a fairytale without a happy ending, or it may have a happy ending that is only achieved with a great cost. It is despairing, or violent, or sometimes even gory.



  • Magic cast with ill intent, or magic that comes with a Price
  • Potions, cauldrons
  • Trees with branches like long fingers
  • Bones, skulls, skeletons
  • Thin, dripping candles
  • Iron-wrought lanterns
  • Iron shackles and iron chains
  • Bloodied weapons
  • Dragons crouched upon their hoard
  • Corvids like crows and ravens
  • Nocturnal animals
  • Venomous animals, like snakes and spiders
  • Animals that are generally associated with witches


  • Gloomy settings with dim lighting
  • Twilight, midnight
  • Perpetually overcast skies
  • Dark forests
  • Crumbling ruins
  • Hushed villages
  • Large ships rising out of heavy fog
  • Rough port cities
  • Citadels with severe, stoic guards
  • Palaces with pale, withdrawn servants


  • Stone castles and stone buildings
  • Climbing ivy
  • Gargoyles
  • Dungeons
  • Long, winding staircases
  • Creaking stairs
  • Secret passages
  • Hidden rooms
  • Spindly towers
  • Cobblestone streets
  • Rain-slick rooftops
  • Abandoned fortresses
  • Old, decrepit mansions
  • Ramshackle, dilapidated cottages


The dress of a person reveals much about them.


Dark, heavy fabrics made of natural fibers are preferred. The cost of different fabrics varies greatly and should be taken into account.

  • Wool
  • Suede
  • Tweed
  • Velvet


  • Hooded cloaks
  • Collars
  • Masks
  • Gloves
  • Timepieces
  • Walking canes
  • Wire spectacles for the visually impaired


  • Natural-textured hair
    • Hairstyles can be complicated if it fits the look that you're trying to achieve



  • Reading by candlelight or by a window
  • Writing in cursive script
  • Writing letters with a quill and ink
  • Keeping a diary
  • Pressing flowers
  • Silently working on your embroidery
  • Gazing out the window in quiet contemplation
  • Wistfully staring into the distance
  • Riding your horse through the forest glens
  • Pitching coins into the wishing well
  • Wandering the woods or the city at night
  • Leaving tokens at the feet of your ancestors
  • Feeding the corvids
  • Communing with the corvids
  • Paying your respects to the corvids
  • Heeding what the owl says
  • Noting the passage of time
  • Walking into the mist



First and foremost are the fairy tales. These are not the ones that Disney packages into children's movies, with their true love's kiss and happy endings. These are fairy tales in their original form, with heroines that are not always immune to death and villains who suffer worse before dying. Limbs will get cut off.

  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  • Black Wings Beating, by Alex London
  • Coraline, by Neil Gaiman (Modern Dark Fantasy)
  • Ferals series, by Jacob Grey (Dark Urban Fantasy)
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series, by Ransom Riggs
  • Six of Crows duology, by Leigh Bardugo (Dark Urban Fantasy)
  • Three Dark Crowns series, by Kendare Blake
  • The Conqueror's Saga series, by Kiersten White (Dark Historical Fantasy)
  • The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
  • The Old Kingdom series, by Garth Nix
  • The Looking Glass Wars series, by Frank Beddor
  • Beyonders trilogy by Brandon Mull

Television Shows


  • Shadow And Bone


  • Disenchantment
  • Over the Garden Wall
  • The Owl House


  • Coraline
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • Snow White: A Tale of Terror
  • The Curse of Sleeping Beauty