Urban fantasy is growing in popularity among today’s adult and teen readers. I think this is because the world we see everyday is rather frightening at times, and although we may want to escape we still want some level of connection wit the main characters of what we read. So novels about people that might seem very different than us on the surface tend to really be about people just trying to get through life, preferably alive, whole and with people that care about them in the same state. Not so different than each of us.
There are some very well known authors in this genre, but there are also some writers that are just waiting for their turn to shine. Here are my suggestions for great urban fantasy that you might have missed, but are certainly worth the read.
Patricia Briggs has a phenomenal series about Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson, a Volkswagen mechanic that also happens to be able to shift into a coyote but was raised in a werewolf pack. Mercy is sharp tongued and quick witted. A strong female character that still has her faults and vulnerability but does her best. There are werewolves, vampires, fae and witches all tossed in this alternate version of Washington state. There is some romance, lots of great fight scenes, magic and entertaining interaction between characters. The squabbling between Mercy and Adam, her neighbor and head of the local werewolf pack, never disappoints. The series starts with Moon Called and the sixth book is due out in 2011.
Briggs has several other series to her credit, but the only other that could really be classified as urban fantasy is the Alpha and Omega series, which actually began as short story in On the Prowl and continued in Cry Wolf, Hunting Ground and an as of yet unnamed follow up. This series shares a world with Mercy Thompson, but is set a bit earlier in time. This series revolves around Anna, a human turned werewolf that is treated badly by her pack, as so has trouble trusting any male. However one of the most powerful werewolves in the country meets her and knows quickly that she is special, and his mate. This series is much higher in romance that the Mercy Thompson series but in a very sweet way. Anna has a lot of abuse and mistreatment to get over, and Charles is a strong man used to getting whatever he wants, but not by force or hurting any woman especially Anna. So there is a lot of inner turmoil and emotional conflict as they try to come together and accept each other as they are.
Kat Richardson’s Greywalker starts a new series which has become one of my all time favorites, with me eagerly awaiting each new edition. Both upset that it seemingly takes so long, and glad that quality is not being compromised for speed. This series centers on Harper Blaine, a private detective that survives an attack only to suffer some strange side effects. Since she technically died, at least for a little while, no one is surprised that she struggles to get herself back together, but no one fully understands that she can now see and move through the ‘Grey’ or the world between ours and elsewhere. Harper just wants to be normal, to get her life and business back on track but that doesn’t seem likely as she gets caught up with ghosts, vampires and all sorts of magic. The fifth book in this series, Labyrinth, is due out in August of 2010.
C. E. Murphy’s Walker Paper series follows Joanne Walker, a mechanic and police officer. She has some shamanistic gifts that she doesn’t let lose until she had it for survival. Visions, dreams and ancient gods pepper the metaphysical minefield that surrounds this half Cherokee half Irish protagonist. Joanne is searing for herself, he place in the world, and what will make her happy. She is imperfect and that much more likable for it. The series states with Urban Shaman and the fifth book, Demon Hunts, is due to be release in June 2010.
Murphy’s Negotiator series, which starts with Heart of Stone, is also worth a look. Another strong female protagonist, but this one is a lawyer with a determination to save lost causes. Quickly the paranormal encroaches in the form of gargoyles, selchies, all sorts of lesser known legends. While I don’t like the main character quite as much as I do Joanne, the multiple stories in the Negotiator series is still worth a look.
Here are some of the other quality authors of the genre. Some are well known, others not so much. However, if you enjoy urban fantasy then these authors are worth checking out. Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, Rachel Vincent, Jeaniene Frost, Simon R. Green, Laurell K Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, and Holly Black.