I was recently asked on tumblr what my favorite books were in the Urban Fantasy genre, which is like my favoritest genre ever, so I had to reel myself back and think about it for a moment. Give it some perameters. Okay, so Urban Fantasy is a genre that evolved out of the 80s (pretty much starting with the shared world of Border Town, of which the original stories-- collected by Terri Windling-- and is really hard to find, but a recent anthology can be found here) and, obviously takes place in a city, hence the "urban" but in recent years has become a sort of mishmash of modern fantasy and detective/noir novels. A lot of seedy underbellies, but run by demons or faeries for example. It doesn't neccesarily have to take place in this world, or even in this time period-- Glen Cook's Garrett P.I, for example, takes place in a more traditional fantasy world, while say the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger is set in the Victorian Era (and definitely steampunk) but with vampires and werewolves and is set in London, so is both urban and fantasy.
Genre designations are weird. And mostly arbitrary, and meant for the marketing of books. You know, if you liked X, Y, and Z, you'll love THIS.
But that's how book recommendations work, right? And dissecting genre titles is a whole 'nother blog post, which I may get to sometime. I really have a geek-on for genre theory-- my undergraduate thesis was on the marganalization of the Fantastic Genres (horror, science fiction, fantasy) and why that's bullshit, even though my advisor insisted on calling it an apology for genre fiction-- and if you let me ramble, I might just give you my entire thesis again.
But this is a Recommendation list, not a thesis, so without further ado, I present to you my favorite Urban Fantasy novels, all set in a world recognizable as ours or with very few historical differences, in the modern era.
HERE ARE SOME BOOK RECS:
The Dresden Files - Jim Butcher. Set in Chicago, this is pretty much classic urban fantasy (which as a genre takes modern fantasy and smooshes into noir). Harry Dresden, PI and Wizard, doesn’t do birthdays or love potions, but he can and will stand up to the nastiest stuff the NeverNever has to offer armed only with a snarky comment and his blasting rod. Begins with Storm Front, but really gets good around Grave Peril/Summer Knight. There are currently 15 books in the series, and the first two have been turned into comic books. The 16th book is coming out who knows when, because Butcher is in the process of launching another series.
Nightside - Simon R. Green. London contains a secret, a square mile of otherwordly city called the Nightside, where it’s always three in the morning, gods and demons and stranger things walk around without need for concealment, souls can be bought by street vendors and normal people are prey or worse. Our protagonist, John Tyler, isn’t exactly a PI, but he’s got a knack for finding things. Armed only with his mysterious Gift and his ability to bluff, John will get to the heart of every matter, whether his client wants him to or not. Begins with Something from the Nightside, contains 13 books total. He also has other series, but they’re all in the same vein, with the same voice, so they’re not as worth checking out (especially the Ghost Hunter ones. Blech), though I do think his Secret History Series is pretty good.
October Daye Series - Seanan McGuire. “Toby” Daye is a changeling, half-human and half-fae, her mysterious mother has vanished into Faerie, and she’s up against a world that sees her as lesser. Oh, and she spent the last ten years as a fish. But she’s still who the Faerie court turns to in times of crisis, to track down murderers, rescue kidnapped children and put the monsters back in their places. Starts with Rosemary and Rue, currently contains 8 books with the 9th coming out later this year. She has another series: the InCryptids that looks pretty good, but I haven’t had time to check out.
So, those three are my favorites of all time, and since typing out these paragraphs are exhausting, I’m just going to list the rest:
The Hollows - Kim Harrison. Starts with Dead Witch Walking, contains 13 books.
Retrievers - Laura Anne Gilman. Starts with Staying Dead, contains 6 books total, and a short story collection.
Connor Gray - Mark Del Franco. Starts with Unshapely Things, contains 6 books.
Mercy Thompson - Patricia Briggs. Starts with Moon Called, currently has 8 books.
Courts of the Feyre - Mike Shevdon. Starts with Sixty-One Nails, has 4 books total.
Women of the Otherworld - Kelley Armstrong. The world the popular SciFi channel show Bitten (which is also really good) is based on! Starts with Bitten, and has 13 books total, a short story collection, and quite a few floating short stories that have been published on her website.
Walker Papers - C.E Murphy. Starts with Urban Shaman, and has 9 bookstotal. She also wrote the Negotiator Trilogy, which I think is pretty okay, but every time I try to read it I never get past the first book.
Now those are all series. I also have a list of standalone novels:
Kraken - China Miéville
War for the Oaks - Emma Bull
American Gods - Neil Gaiman (though I guess Anansi Boys is considered a sequel? I’ve only read this one.)
Disagree with me? Think I left something off the list, either through ignorence or sheer malice? Feel like just recommending more good books for me? Come yell at me in the comments, or hit me up on tumblr or twitter or whatever. I'm always looking for new books or to tell a random stranger why they're wrong.