Urban Fantasy discussion

Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance: What's the difference?

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message 1: by Shannon (new)

Shannon  (giraffe_days) That's a good definition/distinction.

I read a lot of fantasy but not so much urban fantasy, no reason why, but because it's a type of fantasy I think there's one other distinction: the style of writing. Fantasy tends to be more involved and detailed than Romance, including paranormal romance. You get more depth, really. I can read a paranormal romance (or a general romance) in a day or two because the writing is very non-challenging, but fantasy takes me longer.

It's hard to say what I mean, but in short, I find Romance is very simplistically written, whereas Fantasy, including Urban Fantasy, has more, uh, creativity or depth. Not sure what to call it really. It's not literature, but it's rarely simplistic either. The good stuff, anyway.

Does anyone else agree with this?

message 2: by Rora (new)

Rora I enjoy reading urban fantasy more than I do paranormal romance. I don't mind if there's some romance in it, but to me it gets boring if there isn't a good story behind it.

message 3: by Connie (new)

Connie | 3 comments urban fantasy is definitely the way to go for me, too. i will only read some paranormal romance, but only if the writing is good and the characters are interesting. for example, i tried j.r. ward's black brotherhood series, but although some of the characters were well developed, the writing was SO BAD that i just couldn't handle it. occasionally though, i enjoy the lighthearted kind for kicks such as lynsay sands's recent The Accidental Vampire.

message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jen421) | 32 comments I prefer paranormal romance, just because I can read it quickly and its a nice break from the real world. Much like watching TV, with a decent PNR I can kind of zone out and not have to think too much. At the end of the day, my brain needs a break.

On the other hand, its nice to read something well written and well thought out. Something deeper. I guess it depends on my mood at the time.

message 5: by Shannon (new)

Shannon  (giraffe_days) I'm with you Jennifer. I like to mix up the kind of books I read, give my brain a bit of a work-out. I read different genres and classics and lit all at once, and I get something different from them all.

message 6: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jen421) | 32 comments As they say, variety is the spice of life!

message 7: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 46 comments I have trouble with labeling things, since I read it all anyway. LOL But I think that it is the focus of the story that helps narrow it down. Is the focus the relationship of the couple? Romance. Saving the world? More Urban fantasy...

message 8: by Brycen (new)

Brycen (melisandes) That is a perfect definition of the two. Although lately they cross the lines for each other and most people read both Genres.

message 9: by Valerie (new)

Valerie | 9 comments I also like to mix it up. I can say, I really do not like books full of sex, for sex's sake. I love the urban fantasy books and mixing in romance is fine- but not the awful sex stuff that I am finding in some of my choices! I never was a romance novel reader, always the fantasy reader. I love the plot twists and character involvement more than who is doing what to who!

message 10: by Deebles (new)

Deebles | 11 comments I'm definitely an Urban Fanstay fan and having the definition of the two genres is very helpful. One series that i enjoy reading, the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris i have always considered to UF but maybe aimed more for women than men. But recently my local Forbidden Planet store has moved all those books to the Paranormal Romance section. I can understand why but from the definitions above i think i would still place it in UF.

I might have to give some PNR books a try at some point, just for a change, if anyone can recommend any that would be great.

message 11: by Pamela (new)

Pamela | 20 comments Actually urban fantasy is fantasy set in an contemporary urban setting and does not have to be paranormal romance or have romance. Jim Butcher is not a romance author, but his is what I would call urban fantasy. Plus there have been others for years before the romance genre got put int this too.
Laurell K. Hamilton has been more horror, until last full years.
And werewolves and vamps weren't in the original urban fantasy. Now publishers have put them there.

message 12: by Justine (new)

Justine (justinemusk) | 3 comments I was just at Comic-Con and went to a panel my editor (Roc/Penguin) was on and she addressed this very question...She echoed the definitions at top, saying that in paranormal romance the emphasis is on the romance and in urban fantasy the emphasis is on the fantasy elements, which are more developed and thought-out, etc. -- there's more intricate world-building. And sometimes the difference isn't quite so clearcut -- sometimes one book just 'feels' more one way than another.

message 13: by Justine (new)

Justine (justinemusk) | 3 comments It was really great -- I was only there for one day, however, which sucked. Next year I definitely plan to go again & get the most out of it.

message 14: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) Try Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, Dannii. Great read and hot vampires to boot!

message 15: by Phoebebb (new)

Phoebebb That is my favorite series now. I wish there was more out!!!!!

message 16: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) It's my favorite now as well. I take it you finished?

message 17: by Phoebebb (new)

Phoebebb Almost, I have about 100 pages left =)

Jael ~ *~ Syhren ~* ~ (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejael) Ok I read the definitions up top and have found that many authors mix these two genre's in the their books which IMO makes for an excellent book. I really don't lean to either UF or PNR but when they come together I enjoy it.

message 19: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) are you done yet, Phoebebb?!

message 20: by Phoebebb (new)

Phoebebb Yes lol, I finished it last night and I LOVED it. Oh, I wish there were more out =( *sigh*

message 21: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) What did you think about the very end?

message 22: by Phoebebb (new)

Phoebebb I liked the ending actually; except for that one part you and I talked about. That was just too easy going for a situation like that lol.

message 23: by Brandifer (new)

Brandifer Hee hee, my husband read Dead Until Dawn before I did and passed it on to me. These days when a new one comes out, we have to flip a coin to see who gets it first. :)

message 24: by Phoebebb (new)

Phoebebb That's funny =)~

message 25: by Cathiecaffey (new)

Cathiecaffey (caffey) | 6 comments I always knew PNR and Urban Fantasy (UF) were different genres and how they were different. I just question why the definition says that UF only set in contemporary times? I'm sure I read those set historically as well. But anyways, I love reading them both PNR romance and UF, as well as historical mysteries, etc. Variety for me keeps it all fresh. Love HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE! Ah Bones =)

message 26: by Cathiecaffey (new)

Cathiecaffey (caffey) | 6 comments Thats so true, some genres have a bit of a couple of genres within them. So it can be a combination. Those I enjoy too. I like a variety so getting recommendations here is great!

message 27: by Jess (new)

Jess Charlaine Harris who writes the Sookie books also writes another series with the main character, Harper Connoley, who has the ability to find corpses and determine how they have died. pretty interesting. I'm not sure what genre that would be considered?

message 28: by Theresa (new)

Theresa  (tsorrels) I would probably consider it UF since romance isn't the main theme. Suzann?

message 29: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 169 comments The Harper Connely books are mystery. Maybe paranormal mystery if you want to get more specific. They are rather good, but I liked Aurora Teagarden & Lily Bard more than Harper.

message 30: by Anneliese (last edited Dec 15, 2008 04:19PM) (new)

Anneliese | 6 comments I adore the Harper Connelly books. They're definitely UF-ish, but definitely more mystery-ish, she get's her 'powers' because she was struck by lightening and there are at least two other people in the series with 'power' of some sort. She's basically a corpse barometer though.

You like the Aurora Teagarden & Lily Bard series more? It must be the descriptions I've seen of them so far but they don't seem like they would be as good to me ...

message 31: by Jess (new)

Jess Jessica - I haven't read the Aurora Teagraden or Lily Bard series yet. They didn't seem that interesting to me. But maybe I'll give them a try.

message 32: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 169 comments I think I just liked the main characters better. Harper Connely is defiantely darker than Roe or Lily attitude and story wise.

Roe is so quirky and fun. And Lily, while a darker history, was just such a great character.

All were very good- I devoured all 3 series. But At the end, I wanted more Roe or Lily, but was satisfied with just hte 3 of Harper.

message 33: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I loved Lily too. I liked Roe, but the other characters in the books bothered me. Even her hubby for awhile there. That series was kind of all over the place, but I usually picked up the next book as soon as I finished the one I was on. It was so addicting! I read all 5 Lily Bard books in a row too. I like her writing so to me all of her books are worth reading. She has to stand alone books as well that are just as good as any of her other stuff. She really is more a mystery writer, but with her paranormal aspects in some of her series she has crossed over into all the genres.

message 34: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca Jennifer, I agree with you. Gabaldon doesn't belong in the romance section.

Romance novels still require one m/f couple to end up together by the end of the book. Anything that stretches into a series, even if there is only one couple being focused on, is no longer strictly romance.

I tend to prefer non-romance books with a large romantic element.

message 35: by Ebby (new)

Ebby Wilhelm (ebbunny) | 13 comments Sometimes it's surprising what section you will find a book in. Rachel Vincent's series Stray, Rouge, and Pride are under romance. Yes, there is an underlying romance story, but most of it revolves around werecats... and I don't like heading to the romance section to find my lastest book I want to read.

message 36: by Zhye (new)

Zhye (zhyegoatt) | 7 comments I have this problem all the time. Some paranormal romance books I have no question about either because the plot is just a thinly disguised way to push the couple together or the world-building leaves a lot to be desired. Others I'm not so sure about, like the book I just read by Sharon Ashwood called Ravenous. It's called paranormal romance, but it reads more like the Night Huntress series or the Rachel Morgan series.

message 37: by Cathy (new)

Cathy  (cathygreytfriend) | 55 comments Speaking of world building, that's one of the main reasons I've been reading urban fantasy much, much more than traditional fantasy lately. I've just had a harder time wrapping my mind around a whole new culture, language and map (or several) than I used to. Must be getting old (almost 39!) because I used to love that stuff. But now I really appreciate my magic and mayhem set in this world or a close approximation. I still prefer UF to Paranormal Romance about 3/1 because of the generally greater availability of more complex characters and stories, and on-going series. I enjoy PR books with fun and well-written characters, especially where the same "world" has multiple books and characters make appearances in the other books (such as author Lynsay Sands' books). But it's not the same as a multi-layered story told over time such as the Sookie Stackhouse books by Harris, the Cassie Palmer books, or the Mercy books (someone remind me, I can't look it up without losing what I've written so far because I'm on my phone, sorry!). On the other hand, sometimes the mayhem gets to be too much and not so many UF books are funny, and many PR books are. Long answer, sorry.

message 38: by pianogal (new)

pianogal | 15 comments I know we pretty much covered this topic, but I found a great quote from Kim Harrison that I thought gave a good definition of the difference:

"...urban fantasy's goal of finding the reason behind the attraction and paranormal romance's open and honest explorations of love and lust..."

message 39: by Schnaucl (new)

Schnaucl | 30 comments pianogal wrote: "I know we pretty much covered this topic, but I found a great quote from Kim Harrison that I thought gave a good definition of the difference:

"...urban fantasy's goal of finding the reason behi..."

That's a great quote!

message 40: by Tamara (new)

Tamara (shelfaddiction) | 5 comments pianogal wrote: "I know we pretty much covered this topic, but I found a great quote from Kim Harrison that I thought gave a good definition of the difference:

"...urban fantasy's goal of finding the reason behi..."

Yep, That is a really good quote which sums up the definitions of both. Thanks!

message 41: by Ali (new)

Ali | 2 comments so i agree completly i love reading both paranormal romance and urban fantasy because for a little while i just leave earth and all stress behind and live in an exciting new world full of love and adventure. whats funny is when im in that world i loose complete contact with the rest of the world, for example my mom could call dinner ten times and i wont hear her.

message 42: by Julie (new)

Julie | 1 comments You know what's interesting is I think Stephen King's The Talisman is really Urban Fantasy, but he typically gets classified as horror or sci fi. Of course Urban Fantasy wasn't a named genre when that book came out...

message 43: by Starling (new)

Starling | 153 comments Urban Fantasy has been a named sub-genre of science fiction for quite a while, but I think that people might be surprised about what books were included. There was a woman who wrote funny urban fantasy. Wish I could remember her name because I loved what she wrote.

message 44: by Julia (new)

Julia | 615 comments Tanya Huff writes funny urban fantasy in both her Blood and Smoke series with Henry Fitzroy, Vickie Nelson and Tony.

Her most recent book The Enchantment Emporium is also urban fantasy and funny. (But no Henry.)

Esther Friesner is another writer who is almost always funny. The most recent I read by her was Temping Fates, but she's got at least two newer ones.

Those are the funny ones that come immediately to mind. Any hints, Starling?


message 45: by Starling (new)

Starling | 153 comments It was Esther Friesner that I was thinking about. Looked her up on Amazon and she is writing a lot, I mean a LOT of YA and children's books.

And you are right about Tanya Huff. But not the vampire series so much as the one about the Canadian Guardians with the talking cats. Loved those cats!

message 46: by Joy (new)

Joy (crowgirl) Came across this list and thought it pretty funny.
SOURCE: "Love, Romance and Passion because books don't fall asleep afterwards."

6 Reasons Why the Paranormal Character is Always Male

1. We like our heroes mysterious. What is more mysterious than a mythological creature, be he vampire or lycanthrope or other?
2. Strong powerful hero + average heroine = swoon. When an extraordinary specimen of the male gender sits up and takes notice of a rather ordinary female it is easier to place ourselves in the heroine’s shoes. That’s not because we think of ourselves as unworthy, this formula just makes it more accessible for readers. This scenario also tends to fill the tenderness and protectiveness side of the fantasy.
3. Strong powerful hero + kickass heroine = hell yeah. When number two’s formula just doesn’t cut it there are the novels about strong heroes and stronger heroines. In this scenario the reader and heroine tend to dominate over the situation. The hero must work around the heroine to get in her good graces and who hasn’t imagine upon at least one occasion a strong sexy male groveling at your feet?
4. Angel, Spike, Jean-Claude, Asher, Edward Cullen, Jasper Cullen, Eric Northman, and Bill Compton. Do I really need to go on with this point? I think this pretty much brings it home. Otherworldly men are downright sexy! Especially vampires!
5. The desires of the paranormal fit better on a hero. The act of drinking blood is considered highly sexual in vampire romances. It’s become part of the erotic fantasy. Sometimes the heroine likes to pretend to be helpless and the hero’s act of feeding gives her a thrilling rush. Besides, I think I pretty much covered how icky it can be to read a heroine drinking blood.
6. Redemption always looks better on a man. Many paranormal stories involve the preternatural lead repenting his past acts dictated by his nature, circumstances, and misinformed beliefs due to change. This makes him now a brooding hero and occasionally puts the heroine in the middle of the path toward his salvation or as his savior.

message 47: by Starling (new)

Starling | 153 comments Actually all contemporary fantasy used to be considered urban fantasy. Urban fantasy started out as a sub-set of science fiction fantasy. If it didn't have a hard scientific edge and if it was either now or near future it was urban fantasy.

If your book is set in the now, or near future, and you've got magical elements you are writing urban fantasy.

Of course I'm currently reading DUMA BAY by Stephen King and I think that is urban fantasy too.

message 48: by Julia (new)

Julia | 615 comments I'm currently reading Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam. It's not urban fantasy. It's set in an alternate history turn of the 20th century New York that is still under control of the English king, with a wampyr emigrating to the New World via zeppelin, who does detecting to stave off the boredom. In New Amsterdam he meets the Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene, herself a powerful magic user, and a not young woman who is infamous for inappropriate liasons.
I'd call it manner punk, though some call it steampunk, but magic plays too large a role for that, IMO.

World War Z by Max Brooks *isn't* urban fantasy.Not sure what it is, beyond one of the best books I read last year.
New Amsterdam
World War Z An Oral History of the Zombie War

message 49: by Starling (new)

Starling | 153 comments I just checked into Elizabeth Bear's series on Amazon. Sounds pretty good to me. I don't know if this book is part of that same series or something else, but the series is urban fantasy and this sounds like it is too.

Why would you think it wasn't?

message 50: by Julia (new)

Julia | 615 comments Because it's setting isn't the modern world, but 1899-1902. Only Paris has electricity. New Amsterdam, where the primary stories take place, is candlelit. There are also kerosene lamps. New Amsterdam is controlled by the English king. But there is a film industry in Atlanta. The Haudosaunee (Iroquois) control most of the interior of the continent. Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene solves crime by using magic, with the help of her wampyr friend Sebastien. The next book is set in London 1938, that gave up to the Nazis about 10 years previous.

Urban fantasy is a world like ours, where those who can see it, may see magic.

This is a description of fantasy of manners:
"Fantasy of manners" is fantasy literature that owes as much or more to the comedy of manners as it does to the traditional heroic fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien and other authors of high fantasy. Author Teresa Edgerton has stated [2:] that this is not what Keller originally meant by the term, but "the term has since taken on a life of its own". Fantasy of manners generally take place in an urban setting and within the confines of a fairly elaborate, and almost always hierarchical, social structure. The protagonists are not pitted against fierce monsters or marauding armies, but against their neighbors and peers; the action takes place within a society, rather than being directed against an external foe; duels may be fought, but the chief weapons are wit and intrigue.

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