Sunday, November 11, 2012

Urban Fantasy


The fantasy genre has many categories under its umbrella. One of the popular ones right now is urban fantasy. These are stories that take place in a city or in somewhere in our world where magic, fantastic creatures and the supernatural exists in reality. Many authors are writing in this category, providing interesting and entertaining stories. This article shares some authors and their books of urban fantasy that readers might enjoy.

Patricia Briggs is the author of the “Mercy Thompson” series. Her character, Mercy, is an auto mechanic who changes into a coyote raised by werewolves. Mercy faces a new supernatural threat in each book as her life changes. She deals with werewolf pack politics, vampires, fae and other monstrous, dangerous creatures. The books are mainly set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. In each book, the characters grow as they face new problems. There also is a side series of books that follow the two werewolf characters of Charles and Anna. the first book in the Mercy series is Moon Called.

Magic and the supernatural exists in the world of author Him Butcher’s “Harry Dresden” books. Harry is a private eye and wizard in Chicago. He advertises in the phone book as a wizard, which people find humorous. The public doesn’t understand or refuses to accept that the supernatural is real and exists in the world. In reality, there are wizards, vampires, fairies and many other creatures in the world. Harry Dresden must solve a mystery, fight deadly monsters and protect the world in each book while contending with fellow wizards who don’t trust him. Each book shows growth in Harry’s character as he discovers new magic and insights about his life. Harry gets help from police detective Susan Murphy and a sarcastic talking skull. Storm Front begins the series.

Magic returns with a vengeance to our world, rising and falling like a tide in the “Kate Daniels” series by Ilona Andrews. Magic Bites begins the story of Kate, a mercenary and private detective with a secret past. She deals with shapeshifters, vampire controllers and other magical dangers in each book while solving a crime. Each time she must keep her past hidden to protect those she loves. Kate keeps herself emotionally distant which makes it difficult for her to deal with love. Curran, her love interest, is the leader of the Pack who tries to help Kate in each book. In every book there is a nice balance between action, romance and some humor in this gritty, entertaining series.

Some urban fantasy books can be subtle without the gritty action found in many books. Charles de Lint writes urban fantasy that focuses on characters and how magic touches their lives. His first books were set in Ottawa, Canada but later he created the fictional city of Newford to place his stories there. The characters are very realistic with problems like living people. Magic and fantastical creatures affect these lives in various ways for better or worse. The Newford books tend to be collections of short stories or single novels. Dreams Underfoot is the first of the books set in Newford.

Mercedes Lackey is known for her Valdemar books but ventures into urban fantasy too. She collaborates with authors Rosemary Edgehill or Ellen Guon for some of these books. The stories involve clashes between elves, humans and magic in our world, focusing on human characters and their interactions with the magic and elves. One character appears in most of the books. He is a bard that can do magic with his music. Each book has a conflict or mystery that must be resolved. The Summer Knight is the first book of the series.

The “Iron Druid Chronicles” by Kevin Hearne is an urban fantasy series set in Arizona. Atticus O’Sullivan is a druid who has lived for centuries. He must deal with ancient gods and other creatures to protect the world and himself. The druid is very powerful with impressive magic. Each book furthers the story of the druid with more devestating encounters. The first book is called Hounded.

Many urban fantasy stories are short stories. An anthology is a good place for readers to try urban fantasy to decide if they like it. These stories can be found in different books written by many authors in the fantasy genre. Some anthologies to try out are Naked City, Urban Fantasy, and Paper Cities.

Urban fantasy expands every month with new books from established and new authors. Settings are in cities and some in rural areas all over the world. Readers get imaginative ideas of what our world might be like if magic and the supernatural existed in our world. There are many books in this category of which this article only covers a few of the tons available. Enjoy the journey into the city streets but don’t forget to look over your shoulder.

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