Today I want to build off of what I was talking about on Tuesday: urban fantasy. The authors I am including all have the classics. Vampires and werewolves, magic and demons, fairies and artifacts. I have included these three first for two reasons. First, they are my favorites. Second, they are very easy to get into and tend to drag you in. There is a bit of drama and thriller in them that will get you hooked into wondering what will happen. At the same time, they aren’t too bad to pick up and put down, with writing styles that tend to favor reminders, especially from one book to another. When the character mentions bits that have already happened or may already have been mentioned in another book, it can be a great reminder and “oooohhhh yeeeaaaaa” moment. Finally, each of these author’s series have a lot of books. I cannot tell you exact numbers, but I am pretty sure all the series have over a dozen books. And while you could pick up any one and read it, I suggest you look up their order and start at the beginning.
Jim Butcher (Dresden Files)
My first exposure to Dresden was when I found his too short TV adaptation on Netflix. Personally, I really enjoyed what I saw and thought the world had a great deal of potential. I then mentioned it to a friend, who was an avid reader of the books and suggested that I had to read them. He talked them up enough that my father also wanted to read them, and he lent him the books. I had a bit of a back log going, but my dad ate them up one after another. Now I am finally beginning to read the series. I tore through the first, and have the second waiting for me for my next read. What makes this series interesting for me is that things like vampires and faeries exist, but in utter secrecy to normal people. Dresden is a detective and wizard and he reveals a great deal to the reader, though some of the “normal” people think he is nuts. There are plenty of bits that make you want more too. You want to know about his past, what he has seen. You want to know about the world he lives in, and what ever that thing he mentioned was. A lot of inspiration can be drawn from Butcher.
Kim Harrison (The Hollows)
I cannot talk about urban fantasy without mentioning Rachel Morgan and the Hollows series. While I am only five or six books into the series, I absolutely love it. It is the series that finally opened me up to reading a certain, shall we say, style of book. If you have read the series, then you will know what I am talking about when I point to novels with covers like Harrison’s. I always knew that these books were exactly the kind I shouldn’t judge by the cover, but part of me honestly wondered how many scenes would be describing certain things in potentially awkward detail. However, when this series was suggested to me and described a bit more, I got the first one on my Nook. After reading this (and seeing the western-mirroring titles!) I decided I had to read more. Featuring a world where a genetic disaster caused a need for secret creatures like witches, werewolves, and vampires to come out into the open, the Hollows series centers around a witch who is part detective, part bounty hunter, and part accidental hero. I love the exploration of things like the lives of pixies including their family and social habits. Interesting uses of demons and magic types also made this really hook into me as a world I wanted to know more about. Definitely read this for some action, some wondering about who is actually a bad guy, and great insight into things like pixie etiquette.
Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson Series)
This is another series which I have only recently begun. I found Briggs when I was seeking out new series to get into (yes I know I should probably finish one before another, but I like variety). I did this in one of the best ways I know how to sniff out good books. I went to the fantasy/sci-fi section of Barnes & Nobel and I looked through the shelves until I found rows of books with similarly fonted and titled spines. This is the obvious giveaway to a series. Grabbing one you can open it and find the series list in the first couple pages and find the first one. Then it’s a matter of reading the back cover of the first one. The reason this author made it to the handful I grabbed was the cover. It was reminiscent of the Hollows covers, specifically in that it was just the main character being featured (no arms draped over or wrapped around anybody). I must say, it was a great choice. Mercy is a skinwalker in a world of werewolves. Werewolves that remain a secret in a world where the fae have come out of hiding. Mercy is a great character because, in many ways, she is the everyman….or everywoman I guess. She studied history but works as a mechanic. She has a cat and she struggles with bills. Above that though she cares about people and is a good person, which (of course), gets her into lots of trouble. She’s the kind of reluctant hero that is reluctant because she has limits and she knows it. She doesn’t seek trouble, but she doesn’t back down. Once again this is a world in which there is a ton to learn about and a ton to inspire you at the table.