Enemies-to-lovers fantasy books have always held a special place in readers’ hearts. This is a popular trope in fantasy literature, where two characters who start as adversaries eventually develop romantic feelings for each other. This transition from hostility to love is a central theme of the story.
This dynamic is typically enriched in fantasy settings with magical elements, mythical creatures, and elaborate world-building. The initial relationship between the characters is filled with conflict, whether due to opposing goals, ideological differences, or being on opposite sides of a war or struggle. This conflict creates a high level of tension and drama in the narrative.
As the story progresses, these characters undergo significant personal growth. Understanding and empathy develop as they learn more about each other’s backgrounds, motivations, and vulnerabilities. The transition from enemies to lovers is usually gradual and fraught with internal conflict, leading to a deep and emotionally complex romance.
One of the main reasons why enemies-to-lovers romance is so appealing is the emotional rollercoaster it takes us on. We become invested in the characters’ journey, eagerly anticipating their every interaction and hoping for a resolution that satisfies our desire for a happily ever after. The tension and passion from the love-hate dynamic keep us engaged throughout the story as we eagerly turn the pages to see how their relationship unfolds.
10 Enemies To Lovers Fantasy Books
Enemies to lovers fantasy books have a magical quality that captivates anyone. The combination of tension, passion, and transformative love creates a captivating reading experience that keeps us hooked until the last page. If you want to dive into this subgenre, I highly recommend starting with “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas and “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black. These books beautifully showcase the allure and power of enemies to lovers’ romance and will leave you craving more.
Here are ten books you will love. They frequently explore themes like forgiveness, redemption, and the complexity of human (or non-human) nature. It challenges black-and-white thinking, showing how people can change and grow and how love can flourish in unexpected places. Let’s read!
|A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
|A captivating fantasy romance where a young huntress is taken to a magical faerie land and becomes entangled in its cursed politics and an enigmatic High Lord.
|Fantasy romance, faerie lore, beauty and the beast retelling, strong female protagonist, enemies-to-lovers, magical curses, court intrigue, forbidden love, transformation and self-discovery, intricate world-building, dark and mysterious male lead.
|Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
|A spellbinding fantasy romance between a witch and a witch hunter, bound by marriage and hiding secrets, set in a world of magic and religious fervor.
|Fantasy romance, enemies-to-lovers, arranged marriage, secret identities, magic and witchcraft, religious conflict, forbidden love, strong female lead, moral dilemmas, medieval-inspired setting, slow-burn romance, character development.
|The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
|A dark and intricate tale of a human girl navigating the treacherous politics and allure of the faerie world, marked by deception, ambition, and unexpected romance.
|Young adult fantasy, faerie court intrigue, enemies-to-lovers, power struggles, strong female protagonist, anti-hero love interest, survival in a hostile world, political scheming, betrayal and loyalty, moral complexity, dark and atmospheric setting.
|From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
|A captivating fantasy romance featuring a maiden destined for a pivotal role in her kingdom, who becomes entangled in a forbidden affair with a mysterious guard, uncovering startling truths about her world.
|Fantasy romance, forbidden love, strong female lead, mysterious male protagonist, secret societies, prophecies and destinies, political intrigue, supernatural elements, world-building with mythical creatures, betrayal and secrets, personal growth and empowerment.
|Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
|A young orphan girl discovers her extraordinary power that could be the key to saving her war-torn world from a vast, shadowy divide.
|Young adult fantasy, chosen one narrative, magical abilities, dark vs. light, military fantasy, love triangle, coming-of-age, complex villain, world-building in a fictional realm, personal discovery, political intrigue, mentor-student dynamics.
|These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
|A gripping reimagining of “Romeo and Juliet” set in 1920s Shanghai, where two heirs of rival gangs confront their families’ feud amidst a mysterious madness spreading through the city.
|Historical fantasy, star-crossed lovers, gang rivalry, retelling of a classic, forbidden romance, strong female lead, political intrigue, supernatural elements, cultural diversity, atmospheric setting, action and suspense.
|The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
|An intense fantasy romance where a princess trained as a spy marries a king of an enemy kingdom, uncovering secrets and unexpected feelings.
|Fantasy romance, enemies-to-lovers, political intrigue, arranged marriage, spy and espionage elements, strong female lead, secretive male protagonist, kingdom politics, betrayal and loyalty, emotional growth, world-building with mystical elements.
|Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
|A dark and romantic retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” where a young woman betrothed to a demonic lord discovers the complexity of curse, love, and her desires.
|Fantasy romance, fairytale retelling, forbidden love, curse and redemption, strong female protagonist, morally ambiguous male lead, magical elements, gothic atmosphere, self-discovery, sacrifice and duty, twisted love story.
|Uprooted by Naomi Novik
|A magical and captivating tale of a young woman chosen by a mysterious wizard to assist in battling sinister forces in an enchanted forest.
|Fantasy adventure, mentor-apprentice relationship, dark magic, folkloric elements, strong female protagonist, enigmatic male lead, coming-of-age, village life, magical battles, personal growth, nature’s mystique.
|Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
|A spellbinding story of a blue-haired art student entwined in an ancient war between angels and demons, uncovering her mysterious past and forbidden love.
|Urban fantasy, forbidden romance, angels and demons, hidden identity, otherworldly realms, strong female lead, artistic elements, mythical creatures, secrets and revelations, love transcending worlds, complex mythology.
1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
This high fantasy romance novel features faerie lore and romance in a richly imagined world. It’s the first book in the “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series and has become a popular title, particularly among fans of young adult and new adult fantasy.
Plot Summary: The story centers around Feyre, a young huntress who struggles to support her family in a world where humans and faeries maintain a fragile peace. Feyre’s life changes when she kills a wolf in the woods, who turns out to be a faerie. As a result, she’s taken to the magical land of the Fae as retribution. She is brought to the Spring Court, ruled by Tamlin, a High Lord of the faeries. Initially hostile, Feyre gradually adapts to her new surroundings and develops feelings for Tamlin.
As Feyre spends more time in the faerie realm, she uncovers secrets and threats that could endanger the faerie and human worlds. Throughout the story, Feyre undergoes significant personal growth, transforming from a survival-driven huntress to a key figure in the faerie realms’ complex politics and power struggles.
The novel is loosely based on the story of “Beauty and the Beast,” but with a unique twist and deeper exploration of the characters and world. It contains mature themes, including violence and sexual content, aligning it more with the new adult genre rather than traditional young adults. The book launched a successful series, further exploring the world and its characters, garnering a large fanbase.
2. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
This young adult fantasy novel covers magic, romance, and conflict in a unique and captivating setting. It’s the first book in the “Serpent & Dove” series and has gained significant popularity for its intriguing plot and character dynamics.
Plot: The story follows two main characters, Lou, a cunning witch, and Reid, a witch hunter devoutly committed to his cause. Lou and Reid are forced into a marriage in an unexpected twist of fate. Lou must hide her identity as a witch, while Reid remains unaware of his wife’s true nature.
The backdrop of the story is a world where the Church hunts witches. This sets the stage for significant conflict, both internally for the characters and externally in their world. Lou’s past and witch heritage play a crucial role in the unfolding story as she struggles to keep her powers hidden while facing her new life with Reid.
The book is a classic example of the “enemies to lovers” trope, with a dynamic and tense relationship between the main characters. It explores themes of identity, secrecy, and the gray areas between good and evil. Overall, the book is praised for its character development and the unique take on the witch and witch-hunter dynamic. Following “Serpent & Dove,” the series continues to explore the complexities of Lou and Reid’s world, their relationship, and the escalating tensions between witches and the Church.
3. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince is a prominent young adult fantasy novel popular for its intricate world-building and complex characters. It’s the first book in “The Folk of the Air” trilogy, and it has garnered a significant following for its dark, twisted take on faerie lore and politics.
Plot Summary: The story is centered around Jude, a mortal girl who, along with her two sisters, was taken to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie as a child. The narrative immerses readers in the richly detailed and perilous world of the Faerie, where Jude must face this magical realm’s politics and power struggles.
Jude’s primary antagonist is Prince Cardan, the youngest and cruelest son of the High King, who despises mortals. Their antagonistic relationship is central to the story. Jude’s ambition is to earn a place at the Court, but to do so, she must defy and outwit those who despise her mortal origin, including Prince Cardan. The book is filled with political intrigue, deception, and betrayal as Jude engages in a dangerous game to secure her place and protect her family.
The novel explores belonging and identity, with Jude being a mortal in a world where her kind is looked down upon. Holly Black is known for her dark, immersive storytelling, and “The Cruel Prince” is no exception. The Faerie world is presented as beautiful but also brutal and violent. The complex relationship between Jude and Cardan is a pivotal element of the story, fitting into the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope popular in many YA fantasies.
4. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
This captivating young adult fantasy novel covers romance, action, and intrigue. It’s the first book in the “Blood and Ash” series and has gained popularity for its engaging storytelling and complex characters.
Plot Summary: The story centers on Poppy, a young woman named the Maiden. She is destined for a solitary life and a sacred duty to the kingdom, and rules and expectations bind her life. Poppy’s world is turned upside down when she meets Hawke, a guard assigned to protect her. Despite her role as the Maiden, she finds herself drawn to him, leading to a forbidden romance.
As the story unfolds, Poppy uncovers shocking secrets about her kingdom, identity, and the world around her, filled with vampires, gods, and other supernatural beings.
The book is rich in action and conflict as Poppy grapples with her duty, desires, and the threats looming over her kingdom. Armentrout creates a richly imagined world with fantasy and creatures. The romance between Poppy and Hawke is intense and central to the plot, adding depth to their characters and the overall narrative. The series continues with “A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire” and “The Crown of Gilded Bones,” further exploring the world and characters introduced in the first book.
5. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone is a young adult fantasy novel that has garnered significant attention. It’s the first book in the “Grisha Trilogy” and is popular for its rich world-building and compelling characters. Set in a world inspired by Tsarist Russia, the novel introduces us to a universe of magic and intrigue.
Plot Summary: The story centers on Alina Starkov, a teenage orphan and a mapmaker in the Ravka army. Alina’s life changes dramatically when she discovers she possesses a rare and powerful ability that could be the key to freeing her country from the darkness of the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters. Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the enigmatic and powerful Darkling.
Alina struggles to fit into her new role and understand her powers. She is drawn to the Darkling but also harbors feelings for her childhood friend, Mal. The novel introduces a unique magic system and a detailed fantasy world, drawing heavily on Russian culture and geography. Alina’s journey is as much about self-discovery and growing up as it is about magic and romance.
The book features a love triangle that adds emotional depth and complexity to Alina’s character development. It laid the groundwork for the rest of the Grisha Trilogy (“Siege and Storm” and “Ruin and Rising”) and the larger “Grishaverse,” which includes other series like “Six of Crows” and “King of Scars.” The novel and its universe have been adapted into a Netflix series titled “Shadow and Bone,” which combines elements from both the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and the “Six of Crows” duology. So, it is a notable work in the young adult fantasy genre.
6. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
This is a notable young adult fantasy novel, lauded for its creative reimagining of a classic story and its rich historical and cultural setting. Published in 2020, it’s the first book in a duology that covers historical fiction, fantasy, and romance.
Plot Summary: The story is set in 1920s Shanghai, a city divided by colonial powers and rife with gang conflicts. It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” but with a unique twist. The protagonists are heirs to two rival gangs: the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers. Juliette Cai, a fierce and cunning heir of the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, the thoughtful heir of the White Flowers, are former lovers turned bitter enemies.
The city faces a mysterious threat—a madness that spreads through insect bites, causing people to tear themselves apart. Juliette and Roma must set aside their grudges and work together to save their city from this madness, facing their complicated past and the tensions between their families. The novel is rich in historical detail, capturing the political and cultural atmosphere of 1920s Shanghai.
Gong’s multi-layered portrayal of Juliette and Roma explores loyalty, love, and the burdens of legacy and family expectations. The story continues in the sequel, “Our Violent Ends,” which further explores the characters’ relationships and the fate of Shanghai. The book stands out in the YA fantasy genre for its originality, historical richness, and the compelling reimagining of a well-known love story against political and cultural turmoil.
7. The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
“The Bridge Kingdom” is a gripping fantasy novel combining romance, intrigue, and adventure elements. It’s the first book in “The Bridge Kingdom” series and has garnered attention for its detailed world-building, complex characters, and engaging blend of political intrigue and romance.
Plot Summary: The story revolves around Lara, a princess trained since childhood to be a warrior, and Aren, the king of the rival kingdom, the Bridge Kingdom. Lara is sent to marry Aren as part of a political strategy. Her mission is to act as a spy and bring down the Bridge Kingdom from within. The kingdom is named for its control over a lucrative bridge, and its strategic importance makes it a target for manipulation and betrayal.
As Lara spends time in the kingdom and gets to know Aren, her loyalties and objectives shift. She faces a conflict between her duty to her homeland and her growing feelings for Aren. Both Lara and Aren are multi-dimensional characters, each grappling with their responsibilities, beliefs, and the repercussions of their actions.
The novel is filled with secrets, betrayals, and unexpected alliances, set against a backdrop of a looming war. It is a classic example of the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope, with the initial animosity between Lara and Aren evolving into something more complex and passionate. The narrative continues in “The Traitor Queen,” further exploring the dynamics of Lara and Aren’s relationship, the fate of the Bridge Kingdom, and the unfolding political intrigue.
8. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Cruel Beauty is a young adult fantasy novel that artfully blends romance, mythology, and retelling. Published in 2014, it’s a unique take on the classic “Beauty and the Beast” tale, set in a world that combines Greco-Roman mythology with fairy tale magic.
Plot Summary: The story follows Nyx, a young woman who has been betrothed since birth to the evil ruler of her kingdom, the Gentle Lord. Her father made a deal with him, and Nyx’s fate was sealed as part of the bargain.
Nyx has been trained to kill the Gentle Lord, as her marriage to him is part of a plan to save her kingdom from his oppressive rule. After marrying the Gentle Lord, Nyx discovers that his house is full of enchanted doors, shifting rooms, and hidden secrets. Nyx battles with her feelings as she is drawn to her mysterious and enigmatic husband despite her mission to destroy him.
The world of “Cruel Beauty” is richly detailed, mixing fantasy elements with classical mythology, particularly in depicting demons and magical contracts. It stands out for its dark and complex reinterpretation of “Beauty and the Beast,” weaving in themes of fate, sacrifice, and choice. The story examines the power of love and redemption, challenging the characters’ understanding of good and evil.
9. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted is a standalone fantasy novel with widespread acclaim for its imaginative storytelling, rich world-building, and compelling characters. Published in 2015, the book draws inspiration from Eastern European folklore and offers a fresh take on traditional fairy tale motifs.
Plot Summary: The story revolves around Agnieszka, a young woman from a quiet village bordered by an evil, enchanted forest known as the Wood. Every ten years, a powerful wizard known as the Dragon takes a young woman from the village to serve him in his tower in exchange for protecting the village from the Wood. Agnieszka is unexpectedly chosen.
In the Dragon’s tower, Agnieszka discovers her latent magical abilities, which are unique and intuitive, contrasting with the Dragon’s more structured and academic magic. The story’s core involves Agnieszka and the Dragon’s efforts to combat the creeping corruption of the Wood, which threatens the kingdom and its people.
“Uprooted” has the feel of a classic fairy tale but is told in a contemporary and refreshing way, focusing on character development and a deeper exploration of traditional themes. The relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon is central to the narrative, evolving from antagonism and misunderstanding to a complex partnership.
The author represents nature, magic, and the interconnectedness of life, with the Wood serving as a formidable and almost sentient antagonist. He won several prestigious awards for this great work, including the Nebula Award for Best Novel. While “Uprooted” is a standalone story, Naomi Novik has authored other works that similarly blend fantasy elements with historical and folkloric inspirations, such as “Spinning Silver” and the “Temeraire” series.
10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This one is my favorite and a highly popular young adult fantasy novel known for its imaginative storytelling, rich world-building, and vivid characters. Published in 2011, it’s the first book in a trilogy that weaves together elements of magic, mystery, and romance.
Plot Summary: The protagonist is Karou, a blue-haired art student living in Prague who leads a double life as an errand-runner for Brimstone, a chimera who collects teeth for mysterious purposes. Karou is drawn into a world of angels and chimeras, uncovering her mysterious past and a deep connection to this magical realm.
The narrative explores the ancient war between seraphim (angels) and chimaeras (beast-like creatures), with Karou caught in the middle. A central element of the story is Karou’s romance with Akiva, a seraphim soldier fraught with challenges due to their opposing sides in the ongoing war.
The novel is notable for its creative integration of mythical creatures and lore into a modern setting, offering a unique twist on angel mythology. Taylor’s writing is celebrated for its lyrical quality, rich imagery, and vivid portrayal of Prague and the fantastical settings. The story continues in the sequels “Days of Blood and Starlight” and “Dreams of Gods and Monsters,” which further explore the intricate world and the evolving conflict between the seraphim and chimaeras.
5 Spicy Fantasy Enemies To Lovers Books
“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas: This is a riveting series that blends fantasy, romance, and adventure. The story revolves around Feyre, who finds herself entangled in the affairs of faeries after unknowingly killing one. The series is popular for captivating romantic developments between characters who start as enemies.
“Serpent & Dove” by Shelby Mahurin: Set in a world where witches and witch hunters are mortal enemies, this book tells the story of Lou, a witch, and Reid, a witch hunter, who are forced into an unexpected marriage. Their relationship evolves from animosity to something more profound and passionate.
“From Blood and Ash” by Jennifer L. Armentrout: This novel features a fantasy world where the protagonist, Poppy, destined for a role in the service of the gods, finds herself drawn to her guard, Hawke, who is not what he seems. The book shows steamy romance and intricate plot twists.
“The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black: Part of the Folk of the Air series, this book introduces Jude, a human living in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Her relationship with Prince Cardan, full of hate and intrigue, slowly evolves unexpectedly, making for a gripping read.
“The Bridge Kingdom” by Danielle L. Jensen: This novel tells the story of Lara, trained as a spy and assassin, sent to marry the king of the rival kingdom, Aren. Their relationship, built on lies and mistrust, gradually becomes a complex romantic connection amidst political intrigue and war.
5 Slow Burn Enemies To Lovers Books Fantasy
“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern: This beautifully written novel revolves around two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a magical duel. Their intense rivalry slowly transforms into a complicated love set against the enchanting backdrop of a wandering magical circus.
“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik: This book tells the story of Agnieszka, a young woman chosen to serve a powerful and cold wizard known as the Dragon. Their initial antagonism gradually shifts into a complex relationship, woven into a tale filled with magic, dark forests, and ancient evils.
“Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik: Also by Novik, this novel intertwines the lives of three young women in a world where their paths cross with dangerous beings. The slow-building relationships, especially between Miryem, a moneylender’s daughter, and the icy fey king, turn from hostile to deeply connected amidst a story of folklore and fantasy.
“Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor: This book introduces Lazlo Strange, a dreamer, and librarian who becomes involved with the mysteries of the lost city of Weep and its blue-skinned goddess, Sarai. Their relationship evolves from curiosity and fear to deep understanding and love, set in a beautifully crafted world of myths and dreams.
“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor: In this trilogy, the story centers around Karou, a girl with a foot in two worlds, and Akiva, a seraphim soldier. Their initial meeting is fraught with hostility stemming from a centuries-old war between their peoples, but their feelings evolve in a slow and heart-wrenching manner.
5 YA Enemies To Lovers Fantasy Books
“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir: In this gripping series, Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier for the oppressive regime, intertwine their lives. Though they start on opposite sides of a brutal world, their paths converge unexpectedly, leading to a complex relationship amid rebellion and war.
“Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell: This novel presents a magical world with Simon Snow and Baz, his vampire roommates, who start as rivals at a magical school. The story is a smart, witty take on the chosen trope, with their antagonistic relationship slowly evolving into something more romantic.
“To Kill a Kingdom” by Alexandra Christo: This fantasy retelling of “The Little Mermaid” follows Lira, a siren princess, and Elian, a siren-hunting prince. Their initial intentions are murderous, but their feelings shift in a compelling enemies-to-lovers arc as they go on a dangerous journey.
“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo: Set in the Grishaverse, this heist novel features Kaz Brekker’s crew, including Jesper and Wylan, whose relationship starts with distrust and antagonism. The evolution of their relationship is part of a larger, action-packed story of crime and magic.
“The Wrath & the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh: Inspired by “One Thousand and One Nights,” follows Shahrzad, who volunteers to marry the Caliph of Khorasan, a ruler popular for murdering his wives. She plans to avenge her best friend’s death but finds herself falling for him, turning her initial hatred into a complicated love.
5 Enemies To Lovers Fantasy Books Kindle Unlimited
“Rhapsodic” by Laura Thalassa: This is the first book in The Bargainer series. It tells the story of Callie, who owes a debt to the Bargainer, a mysterious being who granted her wishes in exchange for her future services. Their complex relationship evolves amidst a backdrop of dark fantasy and romance.
“Pestilence” by Laura Thalassa: The first book in The Four Horsemen series, it explores the story of Sara, who is captured by Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Initially, her goal is to destroy him, but her feelings become more complicated as they journey together.
“War” by Laura Thalassa: Another book in The Four Horsemen series focuses on the character War. The protagonist, Miriam, initially sees War as an enemy, but as the story unfolds, their relationship turns dramatically, blending elements of fantasy, apocalypse, and romance.
“Oath Taker” by Audrey Grey: This is the first book in the Kingdom of Runes series. It revolves around Haven, who is sworn to protect the royal family but finds herself allied with a notorious assassin, Archer, as they go on a perilous journey. The tension between them gradually shifts to something deeper.
“Shadow Touched” by Becky Moynihan: This novel is a blend of urban fantasy and romance, featuring a protagonist with unique powers who finds herself involved with a group of shadowy figures, including an enigmatic and initially antagonistic love interest.
These books offer a compelling mix of emotional depth, complex character interactions, moral exploration, and exciting narratives, all set in richly crafted fantastical worlds. They are entertaining and thought-provoking, making them a rewarding choice for readers who enjoy nuanced romantic stories with a twist. So, whether you’re a fan of fantasy or romance or simply looking for a captivating read, give enemies to lovers fantasy books a try. You will find yourself falling under their spell.
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