The Best of the Dresden Clones

The Best Fantasy Books Similar to The Dresden Files
Best Books Similar (and Inspired) by Jim Butcher's Dresden Files

All these books are in some way similar to The Dresden Files while still being completely unique.  Butcher's Dresden seemingly created an entire subgenre of Urban Fantasy -- one of the more popular genres in Fantasy.There's dozens and dozens of these types of books now -- with most of them ranging from terrible to mediocre. Still there's a handful that are delicious reads, every bit as good (arguably BETTER) than the books that definitely inspired them (The Dresden Files). I've decided to cook up a dedicated list to help you folks find books similar to The Dresden Files. So if you are hungering for some more Dresden-like action, feast on these reads.

Alex Verus by Benedict Jacka A lot of the books on this list have a similarity. They may be in wildly different settings and various fantasy worlds, but most of them are some time in the past. Jacka’s urban fantasy offers a great change from that through a modern London setting. We follow a humble shop owner called Alex who is mage not of battle magic but divining. He can see the threads of various paths of the future and their implications. This makes him valuable; to the dark wizards, and to the light ones. However, the strength of setting and magic isn’t the major driving force in this novel. That comes with the way Jacka writes Alex. He has weaknesses, yet he’s able to overcome them. He’s trained in martial arts, but he won’t fight in every situation needlessly. This creates a character who is smart and real, yet still has room for growth. Alex has to learn not to sit on the fence entirely, to do things for the greater good, and to find his place in the world of magicians. Read if you like: Urban fantasy, Jim Butcher.

Books in Alex Verus Series (8)

This one by Tad Williams, a master at writing well plotted, rich fantasy tales.This is his second foray into urban fantasy territory (first being War of the Flowers – another well recommended urban fantasy tale) and looks to be one of his best works in a decade.Dirty Streets of Heaven follows in the dectective-noir tradition of The Dresden Files, but it's no clone at all. Williams puts something new into the genre and my feeling here is that Butcher has some serious competition for the Urban Fantasy crown with Williams' new series. Out of all the various contenders for the throne, this series has every potential to be "the next" Dresden series.

Books in Bobby Dollar Series (4)

Read Mike Carey's Felix Castor series for something just like Dresden in style and form, yet completely different. The blurb states it's 'every bit as good as Jim Butcher' and this is no exaggeration. It is just as good and arguably better. Every character is complex, nothing is as it seems, the world is dark and dreary. The Caster series really does hearken back to those classic detective noir novels, but merged with fantasy. It's a good combination that absolutely works.Pound for pound, I would argue as close as you are going to get to The Dresden Files without being a complete rip-off. You've got the hard-boiled detective noir thriller story merged with the supernatural. The hero is a freelance exorcist (not a wizard) in the vein of Harry Dresden though with a much lower power level. The world created is a world completely haunted by ghosts, a world divided between who can see these hauntings and those who cannot. The appearance of the restless dead has change the world...and created new opportunities.Exorcists, you see, are the front line defense against the world of the dead. And our broke, downtrodden hero, Felix Caster, is one of the best.As a whole, the Felix Caster books are a bit slower paced than Dresden with a bit more of the whole 'detective whodunit' thing going on in every book, but it does deliver the goods. The Alex Verus books are more directly comparable to Dresden than Felix Caster, but Felix Caster is definitely up there while still having it's own personality.
Of all the books on this list, Sandman Slim is probably the darkest and most brutal. But it's disturbingly good a story about a sort of Harry Dresden character who comes unhinged, due in part to long stint being tortured in hell.Sound interesting? It is.There's a lot of similarities to The Dresden Files but one that's got a lot of dark humor and visceral action is Sandman Slim. Like Dresden Files, it combines hard-boiled detective fiction noir with the supernatural. You can readily see the influences from the noir detective fiction of the past (Raymond Chandler, Sam Peckinpah) and the dark and stylish mob-ridden settings you find in Hong Kong cinema. It's a mix that just works all around.Indeed, think of this as a fusion between Raymond Chandler and the Dresden Files.If you haven't read it, DO. It's quite a bit different than Harry Potter (as different as it is similar), yet there are elements of similarities there. I hazard a guess to say if you love the action, drama, and darkness of The Dresden Files, you'll get a kick out of Richard Kadrey's books. These books are dark though. If you are looking for happy go lucky Urban Fantasy where everything always turns out and everyone walks away without a scratch, read something else.

Books in Sandman Slim Series (6)

I quite liked this one. I think it's probably the best next It’s dark, gritty, and it dose new things in the genre. Yes, it’s got some of the elements of the Dresden novels, but there’s enough here that it’s no simple clone. What’s particularly refreshing is that protagonist is not some super powered magical freak that features in most of the supernatural detective-noir books out there. He’s basically a normal guy who gets caught up in power games that are far beyond his ability to deal with and he’s just trying hard as hell to walk away in one piece. He’s basically a lower power version of Dresden without all the magical tricks. It makes the novel interesting knowing the hero can’t simply pull out yet-another-magical trick out of the bag to one up the bad guys. Highly recommended. there.

Books in Twenty Palaces Series (2)

An interesting concept. A dark gritty hidden part of London that functions as a sort of universal septic tank -- home to gods, demons, angles, humans, misfits and every sort of creature every imagined in the present, past, and future. Throw into this strange reality a down and out detective with a knack for finding things opening shop and you have probably the strangest detective novels in existence.But great reads â dark, action packed, and with a lot of zing. Itâs not as sophisticated as some of the other detective urban fantasy though it partially makes up for that with the interesting world building.

Books in Nightside Series (17)

Gritty detective fantasy in a warzone – this is The Dresden Files before Dresden. Garrot PI has been vastly overshadowed by Cook’s The Black Company, but these are actually some of cook’s best writing. The books are funny but don’t go overboard with humor The Garrett P.I. series follow the detective adventures of Garrett, a detective living in a gritty, noir city called TunFaire, a magical city that’s populated by elves, dwarves, ogres, and other magical entities. Garret is a soldier-become-private detective and he’s not out to try and save the world from any sort of dark evil; he just wants to do his job as a P.I. and get paid, badly. Cook carefully crafts a gritty, nasty place in the city of TunFaire. It’s not a place you would ever want to live, but it’s an interesting place to watch Garrett navigate through. In this world, everyone has their own – usually nasty – agenda and it’s a world that Garrett must navigate through carefully if he wants to survive to get paid. If you love Dresden, detective noir, urban fantasy, or gritty fantasy, you’re going to love this series.

Books in Garrett, P.i. Series (11)

Ah, detective urban fantasy but with a decidedly police procedural bent. If you like the idea of Dresden but hate the over-the-top, break all magical rules on a whim aspect of Dresden, then Peter Grant's Rivers of London will be your savior. It's basically about a detective who stumbles upon the hidden existence of magic during the course a strange murder investigation and ends up becoming an apprentice wizard-in-training for a special supernatural brand of the British police force.This one merges traditional police procedural detective fiction with Urban Fantasy and does it very well indeed. There's nothing quite like it to be honest if you want a more traditional detective police story mixed in with some Dresden, this is the one for you. It's far less action orientated though, so keep that in mind.

Similar Recommendations

London Falling
If you want a similar style police procedural meets supernatural story, London Falling by Paul Cornell is your closest bet.
The Iron Druid Chronicles is one of those series you either really like or you are completely ambivalent about. I fall into the later category; for the most part, Hearne pretty much takes the whole Dresden formula and changes the character names and backgrounds. Yes, as the series progresses, it does get much better and Hearne comes into his own, but I feel Butcher's Dresden books are better in every regard. However, if you love The Dresden Files and you want something VERY similar, The Iron Druid Chronicles are about as close as you are going to get.

Books in Iron Druid Chronicles Series (11)

How to describe this one? It's kind of like Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher got it on in a library and this was their literary love child. There is really no easy way to explain this one. But, there's a lot of zaniness, a whole lot of action, a caste of colorful characters, an interesting magic system, and pretty much every sort of urban fantasy creature you're used to in a Dresden novel tossed into the plot. A surprisingly good read and there's a certain similar feel to a Dresden novel.