Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy are like kissing cousins. Considering all the vampires and werewolves involved, maybe that should be biting cousins.
The big difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance is usually where the focus is placed in the story. It’s not that Paranormal Romances can’t include an other-than-human hero or heroine, or that the main character can’t be solve crimes in the supernatural community. Likewise, there are urban fantasy series where the hero or heroine does manage to combine crime-fighting or beast hunting with a successful love life…eventually.
I think the poster boy for Urban Fantasy is Harry Dresden, from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. In the first book in the series, Storm Front, Harry is the only wizard listed in the Chicago telephone directory. Harry is a private investigator, and the focus of all the stories in the series is on Harry solving whatever crime or other dastardly deed has threatened the peace of his city. Occasionally, Harry’s love life is less than awful, but it never lasts long and usually ends badly, tragically, or both. Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: Paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy”
In Changes, the newest novel by Jim Butcher, wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden learns that he has an eight-year-old daughter who has been kidnapped by some seriously evil vampires. In the race to save the girl, Harry faces dangerous old enemies and makes some hard decisions that will irrevocably alter his fate — and even change the world.
While I can say that Changes is unequivocally my favorite novel in the Dresden Files series, I would probably not recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read the previous 11 books. The characters and subplots in this story have taken a long time to evolve and develop, and a reader new to the series may miss some nuances. That being said, there is a stand-alone storyline in this novel (saving the girl) that is pretty engrossing and suspenseful. There is also the accustomed humor (a few of the one-liners will make you laugh out loud) and a handful of downright scary scenes that are hard to read alone. In the end, readers will be left eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series and not just because of this one’s cliff-hanger ending.
Check out my earlier Dresden Files review.
The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, the world’s only wizard-for-hire, as he investigates crimes with a magical twist and saves the city of Chicago from assorted minions of evil, including vampires, demons and fiendish goats.
While some of the basics mechanics of this series aren’t new — magical man investigates magical crimes in a big city — there are a few key details that set the Dresden Files apart from the rest of the “urban fantasy” books out there. Most of those details can be found in minor characters like Bob the Talking Skull, perhaps the best magical assistant ever devised. Keep an eye out for Ivy the Archive, Mab the Winter Queen, and a dewdrop faerie known as Toot-toot. In the Dresden Files, it is often the little guys who make the biggest difference, or at least add the greatest moments of comic relief.
The Dresden Files was made into a short-lived television show on cable’s Continue reading “A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files”