Intro: Defining Urban Fantasy
Hello book bees, and welcome to my follow up from my High Fantasy pros and cons list! Over the many years of my being a reader I have begun to transition from High Fantasy and more traditional fantasy to urban fantasy, where I often find writing that I enjoy more and authors I like to stick with. Urban fantasy is the somewhat modern version of fantasy, usually set in a contemporary setting and time period. Think True Blood/The Southern Vampire Mysteries, where the setting is a modern day US state where fantasy creatures just so happen to also be. Urban fantasy can concern a variety of creatures, and also includes the subgenre paranormal romance–romance novels that often focus on werewolves, vampires, and other such creatures in a modern setting. These stories blend modern day with magic and the supernatural, and sometimes even with science fiction as seen in Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper Chronicles.
- more diverse authors and characters (at least that seem to be visible to the majority of readers)
- unique interpretations of magical creatures
- familiar settings
- sometimes there are fun explanations for world events
- less purple prose pops up
- funnier dialogue sometimes
- explicit LGBTQ+ representation
- more prominent female authors
- some problematic romances
- still not a whole lot of disabled rep, and not always easy to find good rep for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people
- pop culture references
- love triangles (in PNR more than straight urban fantasy)
Urban fantasy is, in my opinion, the place where fun and interesting modern takes on fantasy creatures emerges. While much of urban fantasy concerns itself with vampires, werewolves and witches, there are still examples with other forms of magic, magical creatures such as dragons, and plenty of room in between for a blend. Because urban fantasy more often reflects our modern reality, it’s easier to find diverse authors and Own Voices stories though there are absolutely still issues with stereotypes, misrepresentation, and an overwhelming popularity for white authors. There’s still a lot of work and potential for urban fantasy, and I’m always excited to see what new project might emerge from the genre.