A Word About Urban Fantasy: Part Two — The List

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have been thinking about putting together a list of Urban Fantasy Authors whose books I have enjoyed reading. This is by no means an exhaustive list. This is just the ones who I have read and enjoyed. Some of these will be closer to Fantasy, others will have a dose of Mystery, Romance, Horror, or other genres. I will list these in the brief descriptions I provide for each.

Before I start with my own list, I feel that I should mention two authors who will definitely show up on lists of this kind. One is Charlene Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. While I have not read any of these books, I do have the first seven or so. I intend to read them, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I do, however, enjoy watching
True Blood which is loosely based upon this series. The other is Jim Butcher author of the Harry Dresden novels. Again, this is an immensely popular series which I own, but haven’t had the chance to read yet. The Mrs has read them and thoroughly enjoys them.

The remainder of this list will include some authors you have heard of, but hopefully some which you have not. With any luck this will serve as a go to list for the next time you are looking for something good to read.

Note: Because I don’t feel like I can rate the different books in question and don’t feel like coming up with some other way of organizing them, I am just going to list them alphabetically by author.

Correia, Larry (The Grimnoir Chronicles)
One thing which I like as much as a good horror novel is a good hard boiled mystery. When I stumbled upon a series which combines both the paranormal and the noir mystery vibe I was a very happy ghoul. So far I have only read the first in this series, but that book was amazingly well written. These books take place in the classic 20s - 40s era and hit all of the noir high points. There is magic in this world, possessed only by certain people who can control one type of magic. Some of the fun comes from the alternate history which the reader discovers while following the characters.

Gaiman, Neil (Books, Graphic Novels, Movies, You Name It)
Whether it is gods trying to survive in modern America (
American Gods, Anansi Boys), monsters living beneath modern day London (Neverwhere), children raised by ghosts (The Graveyard Book), or an angel and a demon trying to prevent the apocalypse (Good Omens), if you look for something fantastic among the mundane you have to look no further than Neil Gaiman. I first became aware of Mr. Gaiman through the Sandman graphic novels. Not one to rest on his laurels, he moved on to novels, children’s books, screenplays for television and film…No matter the format or the target audience, I am always happy to enter one of his marvelous worlds. From the first pages of any of his novels the reader is changed into someone who believes that there is more to the world than what one normally sees.

Hamilton, Laurell K. (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series; Merry Gentry Series)
I fell in love with the Anita Blake series for a number of reasons. Among them were the fact that the main character is a kick-ass female who not only possessed the ability to raise the dead, but also worked as a US Marshal whose job was to police the supernatural beings (especially vampires) in her area. Her life became infinitely more complicated when she had to work with, then became bonded to, and later became romantically involved with, one of the more important vampires in the area. Add to this a number of other characters, some of whom she becomes romantically entangled with, and you have a very interesting series. Unfortunately, as the series progresses, Anita’s character changes to someone who has a
lot of relationships with all sorts of different supernatural characters. When the focus shifted from angsty romance to lots of sex I lost interest. In Anita’s world, people are aware of the supernatural creatures that exist around them. As noted, the series starts out with some romantic entanglements and progresses
On the other hand, sometimes you want a book which is a titillating read. If so, the Merry Gentry series was for you. Merry is a member of the Fae and a private investigator in Los Angeles. When member of the Sidhe attempt to kill her, she has to address her family issues and try to make them fit into her life. I never got that far into the Merry Gentry series, but they are well written.

Harrison, Kim (The Hollows Series)
The first book I read by Kim Harrison will always hold a special place in my heart. The author was recommended to me by my friend (and fellow author)
Mary Lynne Gibbs. I believe I said something along the lines of “Hey, I think I picked those books up when Borders was going out of business.” I had been reading a lot of digital books, and this was the first time I picked up a paperback and realized that I needed reading glasses. The series follows witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan on a series of undertakings in a world where magic exists and the general public knows about it (and not everyone is pleased). Rachel’s friends and allies include an hilarious pixie, a vampire, and a number of other marvelous creatures (no spoilers!). There is also a dose of romance in a supernatural vein.

Henry, Mark (The Amanda Feral Series)
Take equal parts zombie and attitude, throw in a healthy dose of social climber, and a huge dollop of acerbic wit and you have Amanda Feral, the main character in Mark Henry’s incredibly hilarious series. There are two types of zombies in this universe (which is also filled with numerous other characters that the public is woefully unaware of). There are the normal shambling types and those who still possess all of their faculties, the category which Amanda belongs to. Both types have to consume living flesh to survive. Part of the fun of these novels is the peek into the thriving social world of the undead and supernatural. The books are all told from a first person perspective and include footnotes. Amanda occasionally breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader directly. The plots are entertaining and the dialogue is devastating. A good deal of the humor arises from the fact that Amanda is simply a stone cold
bitch. There is a dose of sex, but not a whole lot in the romance category.

Jim C. Hines (The Magic ex Libris Series)
I have had the pleasure of being on a number of convention panels with Jim Hines and although he is smart, funny, and a great public speaker, I had not read any of his books until this year (despite having a few of them on my To Read shelf). That changed when I picked up
Libriomancer. Now I absolutely hate him. Not because the book was bad, quite the opposite. I hate him because the book is based upon a premise which is so genius that I hate myself for not coming up with it. Isaac Vanio is a Libriomancer. He has the magical ability to reach into any book (at least those not locked by the father of Libriomancy, Johannes Guttenberg) and retrieve items from it. The creation of movable type allowed for multiple exact copies of books to be made. The combined belief of multiple readers creates the magic which Isaac manipulates. Bloody genius. The books are well written and funny. There are a number of different supernatural creatures in our world, some of whom exist naturally, others generated by libriomancy, whom the general populous knows nothing about. There are some romantic overtones and by the second book Isaac is in an interesting and slightly convoluted relationship, but the books aren’t “romancy.” The series gets bonus points for being set in Michigan.

Martinez, A. Lee (Various Titles)
I have only read a few of Martinez’ books (another case of own more than read), but they all have a healthy dose of the supernatural and an equally healthy dose of humor. They deal with characters who themselves are forced to deal with the supernatural in one way or another (for example, in the novel
Monster the main character has the job of removing supernatural beings that appear in every day places like supermarkets). For the most part, society in general in unaware of the presence of the supernatural and this often leads to hilarity. Well crafted and incredibly funny.

Moore, Christopher (A Love Story Series, The Pine Cove Series, numerous others)
If one were to look up irreverently amusing, there would surely be a notation regarding Christopher Moore (exactly what you would expect from someone who wrote the Gospel according to Jesus’ best friend Biff). His first novel
Practical Demonkeeping established his bona fides in terms of injecting the supernatural in a funny novel. For the most part, people are unaware that they are surrounded by vampires (Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, Bite Me), demons (Practical Demonkeeping), sea monsters (The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove), and unintelligent angels (The Supidest Angel, A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror). This is your go to author for humor with a supernatural bent.

Priest, Cherie (The Eden Moore Series, The Cheshire Red Reports, others)
I am going to start this off with the admission that I absolutely adore Cherie Priest. She is an amazing author who has yet to write anything I did not like. She is also a ver nice person, has contributed numerous books for the auction at the GLAHW Halloween Party, and was on the first panel I was ever on at a convention and was super nice to me. Most science fiction fans will know her as the author of the popular Clockwork Century novels, a steam-punk series which take place in an America where the Civil War was waged for far longer than it actually did. There we see some of her brilliance using the continued conflict as the catalyst for technological advancement.
That being said, for the purposes of this post we need to turn away from the steam-punk genre and look at her first trilogy of books featuring Eden Moore, a woman who sees spirits and whose family legacy may or may not include magic and witchcraft. The books are essentially supernatural mysteries where Moore has to decipher the clues from the spirit world. I’ll admit it has been a while since I first read them, but just writing about them makes me want to pick them up again.
Another series with tinges of the supernatural is the Cheshire Red Reports. At the time of this writing there are two books in the YA series featuring a vamphiric cat burglar who becomes embroiled in a far reaching government conspiracy. The books are quick reads, but very enjoyable.
I was tempted to list a number of other books in which the supernatural makes an appearance, but they take place in the past and as such do not fit with my definition of Urban Fantasy. Still, they are worth checking out.

Rice, Anne (The Vampire Chronicles, Lives of the Mayfair Witches, others)
My first foray into the realm of Urban Fantasy began with Louis and Lestat. Undoubtedly the current cycle in vampire fiction began with the publication of
Interview With A Vampire. The novels deal with vampires alive in the modern world, but flashback to earlier time periods. The Mayfair series is similar but follows a coven of witches. Regardless the religious debates which have encircled her name in the past, these are well written, enjoyable books. I will admit that I enjoyed the earlier novels much more than those from later in the vampire series.

Richardson, Kat (The Greywalker Series)
In the first novel of the series, Private Investigator Harper Blaine dies for a brief period of time. She is brought back, but with the ability to see the supernatural that exists all around us. While suddenly being able to perceive ghosts and learning about vampires is enough of a change, Harper soon learns that she can use her ability to see and later move through different levels of time. This is good because she ends up with a number of different, extremely bad types chasing her. Harper does end up in a steady relationship, but there is no paranormal romance in the series.

Rowland, Diana (The White Trash Zombie Series)
Another author recommended by Mary Gibbs. This series focuses on Angel Crawford, the titular white trash zombie. The stories are told from the first person perspective which allows the reader to learn the ins and outs of being a zombie along with Angel. The zombies here are slightly different from the Romero type, operating in a way akin to vampires except needing brains instead of blood. The books are very well written, humorous, yet still examine certain aspects of the reality of Angel’s life as a lower class, high school drop out who has had to live through drug addiction and domestic violence without being preachy. There is a slightly romantic angle, but not to the point of a Romance.

Thurman, Rob (Cal Leandros Series)
I had the good fortune next to be the creators of
Sleep, Wake, Forget at Zombiecon. There I met the amazing Ariel Vida. As often happens, the discussion turned to books and she recommended the works of Rob Thurman. At this point I have only read one, Nightlife. It is the first book featuring Caliban Leandros, the half-human, half-demon protagonist of the series. He and his brother inhabit a world which includes numerous monsters, some of whom are friends, others that want to kidnap Cal or worse. The bond shared by the brothers makes the books an exceptional read. I look forward to reading more by this author.

As I mentioned at the onset, this is by no means a comprehensive list of titles, just a list of authors I have read and enjoyed. I hope that you take the time to pick up a few of the books and that you enjoy them as much as I did.