There’s just something about the weather getting chillier that makes us want to curl up with a good book in a cozy reading nook. Is it escapism from the gloominess of the weather and daylight savings? Possibly. A near-universal experience of wanting to inject our brains with magic and potions and adventure while sipping a cup of hot cocoa? Definitely. For anyone who feels this same urge, especially as spooky season comes to a close but the weather gets increasingly cold, we’ve found the perfect genre for you: cozy fantasy. According to BookToker Meg’s Tea Room, the cozy fantasy genre includes fantastical elements while centering on a small-scale world, character development, and personal relationships. It’s all of the witches and ghouls we know and love from the fantasy genre, without too much high-flying adventure and, more often than not, a happy, uplifting ending.
If this genre sounds exactly like your cup of tea, we’ve rounded up 14 of our favorite cozy fantasy novels that will leave you with that warm-and-fuzzy feeling all season long. These books have all the dreamy, atmospheric, utopian vibes that will have you forgetting that just outside the window are potentially sub-freezing temperatures—or, at the very least, lots of cloud cover. These are the best cozy fantasy books to add to your bookshelf.
Centuries ago, the robots of Panga mysteriously gained self-awareness and laid down their tools, wandering into the forest without any warning and seemingly leaving the world behind. One day, a tea monk encounters a robot, who has returned to check in on humanity. The robot cannot return to the wilderness until the monk answers a pressing question: “What do people need?” This post-apocalyptic novel is simultaneously uplifting and optimistic.
Linus Baker leads a solitary life, living alone with his cat and spending his days overseeing children in government-sanctioned orphanages as a Case Worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Linus is unexpectedly summoned to travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage to oversee six dangerous, magical children: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus is tasked with determining whether this group is going to be responsible for bringing about the end of days; however, this task is continually interrupted by the children’s charming and enigmatic caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. This is a story about finding family in the least expected places.
The hala is a magical, mysterious creature with a price on its head: Whoever is able to successfully hunt and kill the hala will earn fame and riches in the Halfmoon Hunt, as well as learn an ancient magical secret. Margaret Welty is the best sharpshooter in town, and she needs an alchemist to partner with as her team member in the Halfmoon Hunt. Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist—he’s been expelled from every alchemy apprenticeship he’s ever done—but he begrudgingly joins the hunt with Margaret on the condition that he will be able to learn alchemy from her father. An unlikely team, Margaret and Wes slowly find themselves drawn to each other, as they simultaneously uncover a dark magic that just might be the key to winning the hunt once and for all. This romantic fantasy will sweep you away in an atmospheric world with a rich storyline.
Mercy is the sole undertaker running Birdsall & Son Undertakers, and her patience is running thin. Hart is a marshal, lonely while patrolling the wild lands of Tanria. The two keep running into each other, and find each encounter to be more exasperating than the last. To get his frustrations out, Hart pens anonymous letters to an equally anonymous pen pal, not knowing the entire time that he is actually writing to the one person he hates the most: Mercy herself. As Tanria becomes increasingly dangerous, the two pen pals grow closer, until their romance is put to the ultimate test: discovering that they’ve been baring their souls to each other unknowingly.
Mika Moon is one of the few witches left in Britain, which she knows comes with huge responsibility. In order to stay safe, she has to hide her magic, and stay away from other witches so their their powers do not become exposed. Mika follows the rules… for the most part. Secretly, she posts on an online account, where she “pretends” to be a witch, thinking no one will take it seriously. One day, though, Mika receives a message about three young witches living at the remote and mysterious Nowhere House, begging her to help them learn to control their magic. Taking a risk for the first time, Mika suddenly finds herself entangled in the lives of her three charges, as well as Nowhere House’s handsome and prickly librarian. As Mika slowly begins to realize that she may have found a new family, she also learns that magic isn’t the only danger out there in the world.
Tress lives a simple life in her home in the middle of an emerald green sea. She spends her days collecting cups brought to the island by sailors from faraway seas and listening to stories told by her friend Charlie. One day, Charlie’s father takes him on a trip to find a bride, and disaster strikes. Tress leaves her simple life behind and stows away on a ship to seek out the Sorceress of the Midnight Sea and rescue Charlie. In doing so, Tress risks her life sailing the waters of an ocean where a single drop of water means instant death.
Cursed by a fairy, Theodora Ettings has only half a soul, meaning she has no sense of fear or embarrassment. This leads Dora to end up in several embarrassing and accidental scandals as she attempts to navigate Regency England. As the London Season approaches, Dora hopes to be a quiet wallflower, but finds herself drawn to Elias Wilder. Elias, the handsome and ill-mannered Lord Sorcier, discovers Dora’s condition and immediately pulls her into strange and dangerous affairs. Suddenly, Dora’s reputation not only includes her penchant for scandal, but also an association with the least-liked man in all of high society. However, the longer Dora spends with Elias, the more she begins to believe that it might just be possible to fall in love with half a soul. Slightly satirical and whimsical, this novel is just as fun as it is magical.
Anonymous letter writing appears to be a staple in the cozy fantasy genre. In Rebecca Ross’s Divine Rivals, two rival journalists accidentally find love through the anonymous letters they write to each other. Iris Winnow is a young journalist at the Oath Gazette, and is just trying to hold her world together: Her mother is suffering from addiction, while her brother is missing from the front lines of a war between the gods. To cope, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them underneath her bedroom drawer, where they mysteriously disappear. Little does Iris know that these letters are ending up in the hands of her nemesis at the paper, Roman Kitt. The two forge a connection through their letters that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of the battle between the gods.
Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes is a prime example of the cozy fantasy genre, with all the magic and mysteriousness and very low stakes. Warrior Viv is ready to hang up her sword for the last time, after lifetimes of bloodshed. Determined to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune, Viv is faced with new challenges, including unexpected rivals, and the fact that no one actually knows what coffee even is. Slowly, Viv begins to realize that opening a coffee shop is a communal venture, and not something she can go at alone. Focusing on the relationships formed along the way of a wholesome and cozy journey to success in a fantasy world, this book is sure to feel like a warm hug.
Finlay Ashowan is a witch with domestic powers, and he is happy to keep his past and identity hidden in his new job as the royal cook for the King and Queen of Daxaria. Fin does his best to keep nosy passersby out of his business, but his witchy powers don’t stay out of the public eye for long. The court eventually discovers Fin’s powers, leading him on a series of bizarre adventures, including discovering a spy in the castle, protecting the pregnant queen, and going head-to-head with various knights and the royal mage. Slowly, Fin’s past begins to catch up to him, which is inconveniently timed due to the fact that his love life is just now getting interesting. This book has everything a cozy fantasy needs: fascinating characters, delicious food, and a will-they-won’t-they romance.
Maribella Walters is running from strife in her homeland, so she becomes the new owner of the fabled Cozy Quill bookshop. Maribella needs help protecting the property from unwanted visitors, so she employs the help of Asteria Helsdottir, a warrior woman who is much more accustomed to battle than working at a bookshop. Together, the odd couple fights for the success of the bookshop, but a local evil noblewoman has other plans in mind for the Cozy Quill. Lady Malicent threatens to run Maribella and Asteria off the land, meaning the two must use their wits to outsmart her and keep the bookshop in business. This low-stakes, comedic fantasy focuses on celebrating the cozy seasons of fall and winter, the magic of books, and the importance of community.
Warm yet witchy, The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic is sure to be an instant favorite for fans of Gilmore Girls and Practical Magic. This novel focuses on the story of Sadie Revelare, who paid the price for her magic with the curse of four heartbreaks. Sadie’s life begins to unravel when her beloved grandmother is diagnosed with deadly cancer and her first heartbreak, Jake McNealy, suddenly returns to town. Tensions rise when Sadie’s estranged twin brother, Seth, makes his way back to town at the news of their grandmother’s impending death. With him come dark family secrets that threaten to tear Sadie’s world apart, and as she takes on new responsibility, she isn’t sure she has the strength to keep her magic and her family in check. Sadie must come to an important decision as she attempts to figure out which is most important: love or magic.
Much like Legends & Lattes, Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea is about two high-powered women seeking a slower life. All Reyna and Kianthe want is to open a bookshop that serves tea, but this dream is slightly complicated by the fact that Reyna is one of the Queen’s private guards, and Kianthe is the most powerful mage in existence. After a series of frustrating royal events, the two flee their lives and settle in Tawney, a town nestled in an icy tundra—together, the couple opens the shop of their dreams. As the queen throws a temper tantrum, Reyna and Kianthe face new mishaps and mysteries in this story brimming with fireside conversations and love.
Emily Wilde is very skilled at some things: She’s a genius researcher and the foremost expert on the study of faeries, in residence at Cambridge University. However, Emily Wilde is not very good at interacting with people, and frequently finds herself alone in the company of no one besides her books and her dog, Shadow. Emily travels to a hardscrabble mountain town, determined to uncover the secrets of the Hidden Ones—the world’s most mysterious faeries—and with no intentions of getting to know the townsfolk. She finds herself frustratingly intertwined with her handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk while also muddling Emily’s research. Slowly, Emily finds herself on the trail of a second mystery: the mystery of her own heart.