7 Types of Urban Fantasy Plots (With Examples)

Certain plots show up more often in certain genres. A fake relationship plot in romance, for example. Or a character losing their powers in a superhero story.

The following seven plots turns up a lot in urban fantasy. Are they the only possible urban fantasy plots? Of course not, but don’t be surprised if you find some variation of them in your next read.

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The Mystery

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The plot revolves around the protagonist solving some kind of crime. It could be the theft of a magical artifact or a series of murders by a supernatural killer. The story has all the features of a classic mystery novel, but one of the suspects might be a vampire, or the murder method could be a magic spell.

The protagonist may be a private investigator, paranormal law enforcement agent, or just an average person dragged into the crime. Whoever they are, they use a mix of detective skills and magic to find the culprit.


Dragon & Detective book cover

Dragon and Detective features a locked room mystery. The theft: a valuable classic car from a collection in a secured garage. The victim: a literal dragon.

Said dragon hires the hero to find the car, and the investigation involves ghosts, shifters, and some really freaky magic.

Discovery of Magic

In this plot, a character believes the world they live in to be perfectly mundane until they discover a secret magical underworld. They may learn they have magic powers themselves, or they may become the token human in an otherwise paranormal cast.

The plot focuses on them learning about and adapting to this new magical world. They may have to train to master their new magical abilities, and they probably have to work fast to survive whatever supernatural threat is after them.


Arcane Rising book cover

In Arcane Rising, the heroine’s trip to Scotland is interrupted by an attack and the revelation that she’s a druid. As she studies magic and learns about her family’s mysterious past, she has to fight a group of evil fae who are hunting all druids.

The Rescue

A character has been abducted by the villain for nefarious purposes. The protagonist has to find them and save them before it’s too late.

This can coincide with the mystery plot if the protagonist has to search for clues to find out who abducted the missing character and why. It can also be a jumping off point for all kinds of plots if the villain uses the abducted character as a hostage to force the protagonist to do something.


Any Witch Way You Can book cover

In Any Witch Way You Can, the heroine’s foster sister goes missing, her abductor leaving a fake note from her claiming that she ran away. The heroine has to use her untrained magical powers to find her, and she ends up making a deal with a dangerous (but sexy) black magic user for help.

Revenge Plot

The villain did something horrible to the hero. It may have happened before the start of the book and be told via flashback, or it could happen in the book’s opening. Either way, the hero spends the rest of the story seeking revenge.

The villain usually has a minion or two for the hero to face before the final showdown in the climax. Or the hero could be seeking revenge against an entire villainous organization. Sometimes their revenge is an overarching plotline that spans a whole series, and the identity of the main villain is a mystery for the hero to uncover.


Spider's Revenge book cover

In Spider’s Revenge, the heroine finally moves to take down the crime boss who murdered her family, an action that the series has been building towards through four previous books. She makes her first assassination attempt in the novel’s opening, but of course it goes wrong and things get infinitely more complicated.

The Competition

In this plot, the protagonist enters a magical competition. But this is no friendly game. The stakes are serious and often deadly.

Sometimes the protagonist enters of their own free will because the prize is something they desperately want or need, but more often they’re forced to compete to survive. Expect Hunger Games-esque challenges and a high body count among the secondary characters.


Court of Shadows book cover

In Court of Shadows, the heroine is an outlaw who gets arrested by the Shadow Fae. Her only option to avoid execution is to compete for a place in the Institute of the Shadow Fae. There can only be one winner, and the losers don’t survive.

Race Against the Clock

Something terrible looms on the horizon. It could be a cult planning a ritual to summon an ancient evil, or a supernatural monster stalking their next victim. Or it could straight up be the apocalypse.

Whatever the case, the protagonist has a limited amount of time to stop the bad thing from happening. The clock is ticking, and as roadblock after roadblock gets thrown in their path, it starts to look like they’ll never save the day in time.

Sometimes they succeed, but it’s often more interesting when they fail and have to deal with the consequences.


Dragon Fae Prophecy book cover

In Dragon Fae Prophecy, enemy mages are planning a massive, deadly attack on the heroine’s people. The heroine has to uncover the details of their plan and foil it before the festival that the mages are planning to attack begins.

The Escape

The protagonist is imprisoned. It’s often in a literal prison for a crime they may or may not have committed, but they could also be trapped in a mad scientist’s lab, vampire’s dungeon, etc. The plot focuses on their plan to escape, usually by them teaming up with their fellow prisoners.


Any book in the paranormal prison subgenre most likely has this plot.


These seven plots are the framework for countless fascinating urban fantasy stories. What books have you read that feature them? And what other plots do you think are common in the genre? Leave a comment below.

Want to learn more about urban fantasy? Check out this article about what defines it as a genre.

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