March 1, 2012

A Rural Man's Urban Fantasy Marathon

When I think of urban fantasy, one of the first franchises my mind goes to is Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved Buffy back when it was on TV. I think I hopped on the bandwagon during the third season--that was when Eliza Dushku joined the cast, right? Anyway, it took a couple years before I gave it a chance, since I thought the original movie from the early 90s was bad and figured the show would be more of the same. But the TV show's ensemble cast, action, humor, and supernatural elements were like a perfect storm for a guy with my tastes. I guess it was through that show I became a fan of urban fantasy, though it wouldn't be until 2008 that I would realize there was such a thing as urban fantasy.

I think author and editor Maurice Broaddus summed it up quite well in an interview he did with Bryan Thomas Schmidt back in November of last year: "urban fantasy is when the city is as much a character in the story as anyone else – plus the fantastic." That sounds about right to me, and when you read Maurice's Breton Court trilogy it rings especially true. I mean, you could find a way to classify just about any supernatural story as urban fantasy, if you ignored the focus on setting. For Maurice, it's Indianapolis, for Joss Whedon, it was Sunnyvale.

Since discovering I had an affinity for the genre, I haven't gone bonkers with UF novels, but for the last few years I've gone back to the genre repeatedly. It gets slagged a bit for some distinctive and oft-repeated aspects, like covers featuring women with back tattoos and brandishing guns and swords, or stories heavily featuring vampires. But I've found that most of the books I've read have brought enough to the table to distinguish themselves from the pack. And what genre doesn't have its fair share of cliches. Besides, UF seems like a genre that comes with a lot of expectations from its most ravenous readers. The bottom line is to walk away entertained when you finish the book, and I've been fortunate to read books that fit the bill.

Through March I'll be blogging about all things urban fantasy, including a slew of books I've read recently, plus I've managed to convince eight talented authors who've written urban fantasy novels and series to offer guest posts throughout the month, putting forth their own opinions on different facets of the genre and how it applies to their own work. These authors include:

Ashley J. Barnard, author of Shadow Fox.
Maurice Broaddus, author of the Knights of Breton Court.
Suzanne Johnson, author of Royal Street.
Tim Marquitz, author of the Demon Squad series.
Ian Rogers, author of the Felix Renn series.
Lucy A. Snyder, author of the Jessie Shimmer trilogy.
Jaye Wells, author of the Sabina Kane series.
Michael West, author of the new Legacy of the Gods series .

And look out for a couple of book giveaways during the month, too.

To get the conversation started, here's a simple question: what is your favorite urban fantasy series?


  1. It sounds like it will be an awesome month! I, too, resisted Buffy at first, but thankfully not for long. I may be a bigger UF fan than I realize because I'm a huge fan of Buffy.

    I haven't read many UF books, but I did recently start the Felix Renn series. I'm also looking forward to starting the Legacy of the Gods series.

  2. TV show would have to be Buffy. I hate to admit it, but I own all 7 seasons on DVD and watch them at least once a year.

    I'm not a huge fan of UF books though. I keep trying them but there tends to be too much romance in them.

  3. For me it's a toss up between Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and the Downside series by Stacia Kane. Dresden's been around longer but both have the kind of rich worldbuilding I love and characters that you root for even when you want to shake them.

    Sounds like a great month you've got planned, looking forward to it!

  4. Ryan, I think you may enjoy my article appearing later this month. I talk about the idea that "urban fantasy" is becoming synonymous, perhaps too synonymous, with "paranormal romance."

    There are UF books that aren't so heavy with the romance, but the lines do seem to be blurring.

  5. Closest thing to urban fantasy I've read is the Fever series a while back. I loved the voice, the erotic romance not so much. But it was set in Ireland and crossed into the Otherworld, and who doesn't like that?

  6. Jen - Hopefully the marathon will give you some recommendations, then.

    Ryan - I'd get the DVDs, myself, but I'm afraid they'd wind up collecting dust like the other DVDs I have. Don't rewatch stuff like I used to these days.

    Sonya - I don't think I've heard of Stacia Kane. I'll have to check that out. Just bought Dresden Files #1 this past weekend, though.

    Ian - Lines are definitely blurred. To that end, some of the "conventional" stuff is pretty darn good.

  7. Gotta love Buffy :)

    I would recommend Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles and Anthony Francis's Skindancer series be added to your list!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  8. Ian, I will check it out. After leaving that comment I started thinking about it and I do like Simon R Greens Drood series and a few others, but they are few and far in between.