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SF/F Book Recommendations > Urban Fantasy Recs?

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message 1: by Joe (last edited Aug 10, 2015 01:14PM) (new)

Joe (joemaysky) Hi All,

Wondering what some of your favorite urban fantasy picks are...Have an idea for a story of my own and wanna do some research about what's been done. In YA I know Laini Taylor's The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy is popular, but I wanna do more of an adult take. Thanks!


message 2: by Bobby (new)


message 3: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 29 comments The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 18, 2015 07:51AM) (new)

I wasn't overly fond of Daughter of Smoke & Bone; angels just don't work for me.

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2) by Jim Butcher The Already-mentioned Dresden Files as one of the older Urban Fantasy series set in contemporary Chicago, in which Wizard/private eye Harry Dresden helps the police solve crimes with supernatural elements (even when the police don't believe in supernatural elements.) This is a good example of the "supernatural creatures living secretly in the modern world" sub-sub-genre of Urban Fantasy. Dresden Files had a short run TV series a decade ago.

I was personally fond of the 5-book Black Sun's Daughter series by Daniel Abraham (under the pen name Hanover.) Abraham is better known as James SA Corey for his work on the scifi Expanse series these days. Black Sun's Daughter is sort of a demon-hunting story.

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton I'm not a fan of the Anita Blake (vampire hunter) series, but it's one of the older Urban Fantasy series set in an alternate world where supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, faeries, witches, ghosts,....) live openly in the modern world alongside humans. The Sookie Stackhouse series is another example of this, one that spawned the HBO series "True Blood", as are dozens of other similar series (Mercy Thompson, The Hallows).

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman A couple of one-shots I enjoy: Gaiman's Neverwhere is set in contemporary London, where there is an apparent parallel magical sub world just out of sight of normals.

American Gods (American Gods, #1) by Neil Gaiman His American Gods is set in contemporary America with the old world deities preparing for war with the "new gods".

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes Lauren Beukes' Zoo City is set in an alternate South Africa where those who commit crimes are tagged with spirit animals to help keep them on the straight and narrow.

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1) by Daniel O'Malley The Rook was an interestingly written Urban Fantasy set in contemporary London with a secret organization that keeps the lid on supernatural events. We had a group discussion of The Rook earlier this year.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson Alif the Unseen is Urban Fantasy in the Arabian peninsula, with computer hackers & jinn in an islamic culture.

The Kate Daniels series it is set in a not too distant future where the intrusion of magic into the technological modern world cause a major collapse, not to mention were-critters, etc.


If your definition of Urban Fantasy comprises worlds that are significantly different from our own contemporary world, but just as modern in their way:

Mieville's Perdido Street Station & The City & the City offer unique settings populated by humans and other intelligent races in some imaginative/bizarre stories.

Gladstone's Craft series offers an alternate world (a little closer to our own than Mieville's) in which magic is a common commodity commonly used in commerce and contracts. We had a group discussion of Three Parts Dead just a few months ago.


I haven't included any of the Zombie Apocalypse sub-sub-genre of urban fantasy, or the Superhero or the Gaslight Fantasy set in historical urban environments.


message 5: by Alan (new)

Alan Denham (alandenham) | 146 comments G33z3r wrote: "A couple of one-shots I enjoy: Gaiman'sNeverwhere is set in contemporary London, where there is an apparent parallel magical sub world just out of sight of normals. ..."
Agreed, I rather liked that.
One I don't see recommended often is The Midnight Mayor - I liked that as well, though to be fair, I was rather less impressed with others in this series.


message 6: by Leo (last edited Aug 12, 2015 07:28AM) (new)

Leo (rahiensorei) | 78 comments G33z3r wrote: "I wasn't overly fond of Daughter of Smoke & Bone; angels just don't work for me.

The Already-mentioned Dresden Files as one of the older Urban Fantasy series set in con..."


G33z3r, as usual, is crushing the recommendation game. I don't have much to add on to that, but what I do have is fun.

The Iron Druid Chronicles, led off by Hounded, are a fun Urban Fantasy series written by Kevin Hearne. Often referred to as the natural successor to The Dresden Files, this series follows the last Druid alive on Earth, one smart-mouthed trouble-magnet named Atticus O'Sullivan, as he wrestles with the repercussions of being the last of his kind. Very fun, Hearne knows who he's writing for - so many geek references your head will spin.

Another newer name in the spotlight for Urban Fantasy is Myke Cole. His premier Shadow Ops trilogy starts off with Control Point, and it is all action. Seriously, it's mile-a-minute and Cole really uses his combat experience to good effect - he serves in the Coast Guard as a Lieutenant. It's basically what happens when magic starts emerging in the population and is immediately put under government control and supervision. If you're familiar with the Wild Cards series at all, you can imagine how well that works...

Last is one for the anglophile in us all - or maybe I should say Sherlock-lovers - Midnight Riot starts off Ben Aaronovitch's London adventure with a bang. It's definitely more occult than the previous two series I mentioned, and possibly more in line with Dresden Files given that the main character is a constable. If you know London the way Aaronovitch does, then you're in for a treat - he takes you on quite a trip through the maze-like metropolis.

That's all I got off the cuff, but there's more creeping out of the woodwork every month, the genre is growing a lot. Even celebrated epic fantasy writer Tad Williams has branched out into it with his Bobby Dollar series, which starts off with The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Enjoy!


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2177 comments I'm never quite sure where the line is drawn between Urban Fantasy (UF) & Paranormal Romance (PNR). The early Anita Blake novels are pretty good, IMO. They were some of the earlier ones, as G33z3r mentioned. If you're interested in writing in the genre, I'd think reading the first one or two is required. I'd say the early ones are UF, but they're certainly PNR later in the series.

Anne Rice is often said to be the first, but Fred Saberhagen's Dracula series predates hers. My favorite book in the series is Thorn. Another favorite series are P.N. Elrod's series which is set back in the 1930's in Chicago. I believe the first book is Bloodlist.


message 8: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (goodreadscomdeborah_jay) | 21 comments Check out Kim Harrison - a very popular UF series that just concluded after (I think) eleven books. Starts with Dead Witch Walking


message 9: by infael (new)

infael | 65 comments Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham wasn't too bad.


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael | 152 comments A couple that have not been mentioned yet;

The Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire. The lead character is a half-human, half-fey who's caught between the two worlds.

The Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn. In this series the lead character is a werewolf who hosts a late night radio talk show.


message 11: by Joe (new)

Joe (joemaysky) Thanks everyone!


message 12: by Mason (new)

Mason Engel How would you describe urban fantasy? I'm in the process of finding a publisher for my (what I think to be) science-fiction trilogy, but I think it could easily be classified as urban fantasy. It's an Illuminati inspired and science sprinkled tale set in modern day New York. So I'm not sure what kind of publishers to approach. What do you guys think?


message 13: by Alan (new)

Alan Denham (alandenham) | 146 comments Mason wrote: "I'm in the process of finding a publisher for my (what I think to be) science-fiction trilogy, but I think it could easily be classified as urban fantasy. It's..."

I am in a very similar position - possibly made worse by the fact that some of my early work is already out there, self-published. It got good reviews, but no-one noticed! What I didn't know at the time was that many publishers don't like that - self-publishing labels you as The Enemy.
Life's tough!
I wish you luck, but I have no advice.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Mason wrote: "How would you describe urban fantasy?..."

Definition of sub-sub-genres is slippery.

My definition of Urban Fantasy would be a story that takes place in a close approximation of our contemporary world plus some supernatural elements included. Thus, Chicago plus wizards, Richland plus werewolves, or Cincinnati plus witches and vampires. Some authors set their story slightly into the future, postulating some Event that introduced the supernatural element, whereas for others it simply an alternate version of today.

There are related sub-genre that I exclude from Urban Fantasy, even though they may seem to fit the above criteria: Horror is its own category, and Superheroes also seems to be its own category. And Paranormal Romance is a distinct sub-sub-genre with a blurry line between it and Urban Fantasy, depending on the relative amount of romance to the rest of the story.

I note that Wikipedia's definition of Urban Fantasy doesn't include my "contemporary" qualifier, but rather embraces fantasy set in the past, such as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Kushiel's Dart or Temeraire, whereas I would be more inclined to distinguish those as Gaslight Fantasy.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy fits my definition of Urban Fantasy.

Your definition may vary....


message 15: by Mason (new)

Mason Engel That definition makes a lot of sense. I didn't realize how many genres and sub genres there actually are until I started trying to classify my own story, but this definitely helps. Thanks for the comment!


message 16: by Joe (new)

Joe (joemaysky) Thanks for everyone's input! I'm a newer member so I'm glad a thread idea sparked good discussion.


message 17: by Will (new)

Will (whereisfermi) | 1 comments If you were looking for something that has a ton of interesting fantasy stuff going on that is also set in a very detailed urban setting you might like Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. There is a lot of influence from Middle Eastern mythology in it as well.

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, and the ending tries to morally confuse you in my opinion. It's not for everyone, but it is well written. I definitely would not describe it as YA either. Perdido Street Station


message 18: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 253 comments Monster Hunter International (Monster Hunter International, #1) by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

Cthulhu type monsters, werewolves, vampires, a Frankenstein type creation, and loads more, including friendly Orks, are faced by Monster Hunter International, a commercial organisation, as well as the usual government secret departments. Wild action, romance, intrigue, and political scheming.

Also by the same author:

Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles, #2) by Larry Correia

The Grimnoir Chronicles. 1930's reshaped by the presence of psychic powered individuals (created by an invisible alien being) which has made Japan a superpower, while they are tightly controlled in America and only a secret organisation of the powered is left to fight.


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