Dark Isekai Light Novels Worth Reading

Fans of light novels, manga, and anime adore Isekai stories. There is something fascinating about watching a character go from their normal world to one with fantasy elements, or vice versa. While many love isekai stories, some prefer the dark, grim portrayal of tales in which suffering, struggle, and evil choices are common, rather than the more light-hearted stories.

These dark stories take a different turn, involving heroes who want to sacrifice themselves for the world, or protagonists who embrace the inevitability of death and act accordingly. Reading isekai stories with themes of trauma, revenge, and struggle has a certain allure that few can resist.


7 Underrated Isekai Light Novels Worth Reading

The isekai genre of manga and anime has spawned several notable works of fiction, and these light novels are no exception.

7 Failure Frame

A Protagonist Who Wants Revenge

Failure Frame cover art featuring Seras Ashrain

  • Author: Kaoru Shinozaki
  • Volumes:11

In this light novel, Mimori Touka is cast away after he and his classmates are summoned to another world, because he is supposedly the weakest of the lot as he is only an E-rank. The supposedly benevolent goddess Vysis quickly shows him her true nature when he is deemed useless.

However, despite being all-powerful, Vysis does not kill Mimori but sends him to a dungeon where no one has ever escaped with their life. This would turn out to be her greatest undoing, as Mimori’s abilities are not weak, but simply unusual. With his unusual ability, Minoru seeks to crawl his way out of the dungeon to get his revenge.

6 Record Of Wortenia War

Enslaved Protagonist Absorbs His Victims

Record Of Wortenia War - Two Different Volume Covers Showing Main Characters

  • Authors: Ryota Hori, bob
  • Volumes: 26

In most isekai and shonen light novel series, the character that has been isekai’d tends to work for his summoners or alongside them. While this is a common trope, the light novel Record of Wortenia War does the opposite. High schooler Ryouma Mikoshiba, who has been summoned to another world, fights against his summoners in this story.


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After Ryouma is summoned to a fantasy world where he comes across the O’ltormea Empire, he promptly puts his martial arts skills to good use to escape slavery. As Ryouma runs from the O’ltormeans, he swears revenge against them as he becomes stronger by killing and absorbing his victims. With this brutal and dark power of his, Ryouma’s revenge is only a matter of time.

5 Lord Of Goblins

The Dark Side of the Goblin World

Lord Of Goblins cover images with different volume covers

  • Authors: Michiel Werbrouck
  • Volumes: 2

Not to be confused with the Goblin Slayer series, the light novel Lord of Goblins portrays the lies, deception, and greed that go on within goblin communities from the eyes of a goblin. The series portrays Lev, a young man reincarnated as a goblin who has to deal with the many societal and hierarchical problems that goblins face.

Lev must garner sufficient power and influence to become someone who can speak and be listened to. Thankfully, Lev is no stranger to these dastardly games among individuals, as he was involved in many of them during his life as a human. With experience backing him up, Lev strives to reach the top.

4 Re:Zero

Reincarnation Isn’t As Great As It Sounds

Subaru Re:Zero

  • Authors: Tappei Nagatsuki, Shin’ichirō Ōtsuka
  • Volumes: 35, plus 5 side stories and 9 short story collections

In Re:Zero, Subaru proves that the ability to come back to life after one has died is not as fancy as it sounds. As a NEET who had distanced himself from many social activities, Subaru didn’t think much of it after he was suddenly transported to another world upon going to a convenience store.


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Now living in this fantasy world, Subaru tries to adapt to the unfamiliar situation he finds himself in. Although weak, he has the ability to come back to life after he dies. While his ability seems desirable, Subaru quickly realizes that the pain and suffering he goes through before his death couldn’t be more real. Moreover, he has to continually deal with the trauma of dying, and he is the only one who remembers the events prior to his death.

3 The Faraway Paladin

A Conflict Between Gots & Humans

Mushoku Tensei-like Manga- The Faraway Paladin

  • Authors: Kanata Yanagino, Kususaga Rin
  • Volumes: 5

After living an unfulfilling life in contemporary Japan, Will is reincarnated into a fantasy world where he swears to live his life to the fullest. In this fantasy world, Will is raised in a city of the dead, where three undead — Blood the skeletal warrior, Mary the priestess, and Gus the sorcerer — teach him the skills they acquired in their lives.

In this isekai light novel, the inevitability of death and the consequences of war are portrayed as the characters interact with ancient gods. Pitting humans and gods together may have advantages, but the consequences are always dire.

2 The Executioner And Her Way Of Life

A Time-Traveler Evades Capture

The Executioner And Her Way Of Life LN

  • Authors: Mato Sato, Nilitsu
  • Volumes: 8

In this series, Wanderers summoned from Japan are known as the Lost Ones, and they tend to have unique abilities known as Pure Concepts. While these abilities were initially seen as a blessing to the world, they eventually brought disaster and calamity, as the Lost Ones would eventually lose control of their pure concepts.

Because of the circumstances surrounding the Lost Ones, summoning them is strictly forbidden, and executioners are set out to eliminate any that may appear. When King Grisarika of the Noblesse summons Akari, a lost one with a pure concept of time, the executioner Menou is tasked with eliminating her. However, eliminating someone who simply reverses time and comes back to life is easier said than done.

1 Torture Princess: Fremd Torturchen

A Death-Seeking Protagonist

Torture Princess: Fremd Torturchen LN

  • Authors: Keishi Ayasato, Saki Ukai
  • Volumes: 10

This seinen light novel series stands out for its dastardly dark portrayals. Of the various isekai light novels, Torture Princess: Fremd Torturchen is one that fans of darker stories will enjoy. However, it is not meant for the faint of heart. Many gruesome scenes and events are portrayed throughout.

The series portrays the life of Kaito, a young man who is reincarnated into another world after his father strangles him to death. Despite being reborn in another world, Kaito still desires death. However, after realizing his death would not be painless, Kaito decides to serve the person who summoned him, Elisabeth Le Fanu. Known as the Torture Princess, Elisabeth is tasked with killing 14 demons, after which she will meet her end at the hands of the church.


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