What do you know about urban fantasy?
This is a genre that I’m currently enjoying, but admit that until I started reading it, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant!
Like most categories, fantasy has its share of sub-genres, such as alternate history, dark, fairytale, historical, mythical, magical realism, sword and sorcery, romantic…. and urban.
So what is urban fantasy? Here’s a definition:
Often set in the real world, with aspects of fantasy such as mythical or paranormal beings co-existing with humans – usually with a metropolitan setting.
Let’s expand on that…
- Normality is SO yesterday!
Fictional characters of this genre are often nonconformist. In urban fantasy, the underdog theme is popular, especially if they can rise up against seemingly unbeatable odds. It’s not just the hero, either; fantasy allows the antagonist to be different too, but he or she usually has an arsenal of ‘magical’ weapons or abilities, often with a support team of nasty minions.
2…. but, often, ‘normality’ is what the hero is seeking
Lots of main characters that I’ve read about in urban fantasy just want to live a ‘normal life’. It might mean the security of a family, or having a relationship where no one dies in a moment of passion, or maybe they want a quiet night in with pizza and beer without a demon/angel/ troll or twenty dropping by.
- It’s not who you are, it’s what you do that counts.
Be it a person who is just adjusting to their new magical skills, or someone who has lived with their special ability all their life, not everything the main character does will be good. They may kill off some of the good guys as well as a whole load of bad ones. In the end it’s about ‘doing the right thing’.
- Fighting skills
I don’t think I’ve read any urban fantasy that hasn’t involved fight scenes, but the balance has to work. Few readers want endless battles where the hero hardly gets more than a bloodied knee, nor should the hero have an insta-healing ability, a bit of pain and suffering makes the story more compelling. The opportunity for creative fighting is vast in this genre, with elements of magic and paranormal. Magic protective shields, Goblin weapons enhanced with mysterious durability, and telekinesis all add aspects to a fight scene.
- Keeping one foot in reality
So how does ‘urban’ differ from other forms of fantasy? It often links to a town or city with elements of ‘real life’ as opposed to a fantasy which is set in a completely ‘new world’. For instance cars, aeroplanes, television. Eating in a café, diner or restaurant. Perhaps holding down a recognisable day job; the main character might be a private investigator or a librarian. The point is that this keeps part of the story tangible, because it’s not all inside a total fantasy world.
If you want to try this genre, here are a few that I can recommend:
(Grave Witch is Book #1)
(A Demon Bound is Book #1)
(Azimuth is book #1)