Fantasy Checklist Challenge: Urban Fantasy

~posted by Lindsay S.

If you like the idea of magic and fantasy, but think made-up worlds and pseudo-medieval times are weird, Urban Fantasy might just be the subgenre for you. In Urban Fantasy stories, magical and fantastical elements are plunked right down in the middle of modern day life. The results can be hilarious, terrifying, and bizarre, and are pretty much always worth reading.

Find Fated in the SPL catalog Find Hounded in the SPL catalogFor a gentle introduction to this subgenre, start with Hounded by Kevin Hearne. This first novel in the Iron Druid Chronicles introduces readers to Atticus O’Sullivan and his wise-cracking Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. The story takes place in current day Arizona but the protagonist is a two-thousand-year-old Druid whose friends include a werewolf, a vampire, and an ancient Celtic Deity.

For a story with a little more grit, try Fated by Benedict Jacka. In this story, Alex Verus runs a magic shop in modern London and is hiding from the wizards of the world, who are pretty much always evil jerks, even when they’re the good guys.

Find Storm Front in the SPL catalog Find Sixty-One Nails on GoodreadsAlso taking place in modern London, and unfortunately out of print, is Sixty-one Nails by Mike Shevdon. This book is this first in a wild series that takes you through the hidden courts of Feyre. Niall Petersen was living an ordinary life until one fateful event leaves him with mysterious powers. Now, he must learn to control those powers that have even the most experienced magic users running for cover.

I am also a big fan of The Dresden files series by Jim Butcher. The series starts with Storm Front and chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional (real) wizard.

There are a lot of other great Urban Fantasy series out there. If you have a favorite, let us know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Fantasy Checklist Challenge: Urban Fantasy”

  1. In some ways, the book that started modern urban fantasy (though not the book where the sub genre was first named) is Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks. I adore this book for the ways in which bull integrates folklore with a contemporary story, and leavens it with music.

    I am also exceedingly fond of the Celtic-myth inspired urban fantasy trilogy by Margaret Ronald: Spiral Hunt, Wild Hunt and Soul Hunt.

  2. Oh, I thoroughly enjoy urban fantasy.

    Some of my favorites:

    October Daye series, by Seanan McGuire, starting with Rosemary and Rue.
    Greywalker series, by Kat Richardson, starting with Greywalker.
    Kate Daniels series, by Ilona Andrews, starting with Magic Bites.
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

    As for the different between urban fantasy and magical realism: magical realism contains fantastical events described in a realistic tone, while urban fantasy just has to take place in a city. Which means there is bound to be a bit of overlap between the two, but you can have magical realism in settings outside of cities, and urban fantasy can take place in any time period as long as it is in a city. Many people mistakenly think urban fantasy can only be set in contemporary cities, but it can be set in the past or the future.

    Hawk and Fisher series by Simon R. Green is urban fantasy since it takes place in a city, though it is not set on earth, and is set in an era that resembles of mixture of past eras on earth (from Medieval to the beginning of Industrial).

    Life of Pi by Yann Martel is magical realism which does not take place in a city.

  3. I have recently read The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, and really loved it — it’s a great new urban fantasy series. I’m also a big fan of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London books…. and pretty much everything everyone above mentioned, too. Love urban fantasy.

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