Jump to content
Spaßvogel

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 4.0

Recommended Posts

Couldn't find an unlocked thread.  Delete this if it's wrong.

 

While I kill the time between the last Alex Verus and the next Harry Dresden, someone suggested I read the Craig Schaefer-verse books.  (Luckily he has a handy dandy reading order on his website).   Starting with the first few Daniel Faust books, then over to Harmony Black, then back and forth a bit until we get to the spinoff of the spinoff...anyway...  Has anyone else read these?  It's sort of the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of world building, and it works...mostly, but it really seems a bit overly planned out and inorganically written.  It's possible this is another series that's not served by binge-reading (inconsistencies are more noticeable, writer-tics more obvious...etc), but so far nothing has caused me to *stop* reading them.  Okay but not great?  So far I've read about two-thirds of what is available. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All completed series, some may be tricky to get.  People looking through the list will probably realise that I do like unique world/magic systems, strong female characters, and don’t mind characters who have been through a lot as long as they are written well and build on that, rather than papering over the back story. 

Note that some of these books I read a long time ago, so my views might be a little out of date.  A bit like you look at some of the 1990s urban fantasy books that were favourites, and realise with hindsight they were simpler and/or had issues that you’ve since forgotten. 

  • Sunshine (Robin McKinley) – a standalone book, arguably one of the best of the genre.  Robin McKinley captures the essence of a protagonist discovering their powers, in a rich world that foodies in particular will love!  I don’t think anyone has written an “ordinary person gaining powers” story better.
  • Dante Valentine (Lilith Saintcrow) – a darker series with a damaged heroine (although to be fair, everyone from her high school was damaged), set in a future with both magic and technology.  Strong writing but some dark plots, and one of the few urban fantasy books which has the “alpha” romantic interest which also details the abuse and conflict that can arise from that. 
  • Summon the Keeper (Tanya Huff) – a light hearted series which has some of the most awesome characters in literature.  Is as much comedy as fantasy, but anyone who doesn’t like Austin is, well, a dog person. Must read.  Assuming you like them, you should also read the Enchantment Emporium books.  Although Tanya Huff writes them in a different fantasy world, there are significant similarities to the Keeper books.  Huff's one-off fantasy boooks are also very good. 
  • Kate Daniels (Ilona Andrews) – feels more like a typical urban fantasy series, with lots of werewolves and vampires.  However, lots of twists on the common trope and fantastically easy to read.  A very well done version of the “I’m secretly really strong” character, with a well-developed back story that evolves over the series.  Also doesn’t hit you over the head with the romantic interest.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world due to the return of magic.
  • Southern Vampire (Charlaine Harris) – a long series focussing on vampires.  Reasonably traditional, but set in a small southern USA town and deals with a protagonist who has little magic, and has to deal with the real world.  As the series evolves more types of magical beings get involved.  A well written series which has a lot of followers. 
  • Miss Misery (Tracey Martin) – a world with regular magic and four main types of preternaturals, the series is very well written and has a strong arc.  The main character is engaging, as is her balancing of her own abilities and place between humans and pretes.  The learning curve as to where her abilities come from, and her reaction to what she learns, is really well done. 
  • Jill Kismet (Lilith Saintcrow) – again, a bit darker series with a lot of bad things happening to the main character.  But Lilith Saintcrow writes very well, and the series rockets along.  Lots of violence.  Set in a world where people do deals with the devils, and those who are assigned to deal with the fallout when people lose control. 
  • Morgan Kingsley exorcist series (Jenna Black) – decent writing, with a innovative world setting/magic system, with strong plotting and story lines. The series is very solid, complete, and doesn't really get mentioned.  It’s a world where people do deals to take a demon inside, at which point they can achieve more such as be awesome firefighters.  Some demons are good, some are bad, which is where exorcists come in.  
  • Downside Ghosts (Stacia Kane) – a fantastic series, although again with a damaged main character. The stories are very engrossing, and quite touching.  It is set in a world where ghosts are regular returners (and are like dangerous animals) and there is a whole system for keeping them under control.  The main character is a drug user, and Stacia Kane doesn’t shy away from showing the downsides of this.  One of the best written characters around.
  • Pax Arcana (Elliott James) – a much more traditional urban fantasy, but extremely well written with a knight/werewolf hybrid protagonist who has to negotiate a world where most creatures are hunting him, and a geas on him limits his choices.  Very well written, comes to a very good conclusion, and has strong plots. 
  • Hollows series (Kim Harrison) – another post-apocalyptic world with magic now flourishing (although the apocalypse was due to DNA virus rather than magic), this is a high magic series with a style that is a little over the top in style (although nothing as much as Karen Chances’ books).  A long series focussing on a witch and her friends, there are both light and dark periods.  In my view one of the best urban fantasy series out there, blending enough laughter, darkness, romance and world building to be a fantastic series. 
  • The Walker Papers (CE Murphy) – a series focussing on a police mechanic who is native American, the series is really well written.  Another one which can be light and/or over the top in places, but a strong story arc with a character who develops over time.  The main character discovers her abilities in the current world that doesn’t acknowledge/know of magic, and slowly builds her skills over the series. 
  • Felix Castor (Mike Carey) – books that hover on the edge of being horror, these dark books deal with a beat down protagonist in a world where most people don’t know the dark forces that want to get in.  Extremely well written, although you won’t always be a fan of the protagonist. 
  • Fever series (Karen Marie Moning) – a strong but dark series set with the fey, which deals with the actual apocalypse.  A little bit young adult, although the dark themes would mean you wouldn’t give it to anyone too young. 
  • Other series (Anne Bishop) – completed, although there are spin-offs.  For those familiar with Anne Bishop’s work this is a bit derivative, as it is very similar to previous series set in Epic fantasy worlds.  Her original series is probably her best, but it is also the most adult and with the darkest themes.  This is a cleaner version, which a wider audience will enjoy, set in an urban fantasy setting.  Anne’s writing does just capture you though, and these are very easy to read.
  • Lockwood & Co – more young adult, but enjoyable for all ages.  Set in a world which is beset by hauntings, and where only children can see ghosts.  Follows a group of children who have set up a company to deal with ghosts, and their exploration into what has caused the issue.  A good read. 
  • The negotiator trilogy (C.E. Murphy) – another one of Murphy’s series, this is a well written trilogy that is quite strong.  The major fantastical creature is a gargoyle, and the magical rules are quite a bit different from the standard tropes. I enjoyed it a lot.
  • Blood Books (Tanya Huff) – more of a traditional vampire series, but well written (is anything Tanya writes not?) and enjoyable.
  • Greywalker series (Kat Richardson) – not as stand out as others on the list, but a good read, unique magic system, and enjoyable nine books.  Unfortunately not necessarily easy to get your hands on the later books, for some reason the early ones are on kindle but not the last few.
  • Hallie Michaels (Deborah Michaels) – another series set in rural America, the series is a good read in the current world, with a good main character and support characters.  Well worth reading.
  • Twenty Palaces (Harry Connolly) – unfortunately only ‘complete’ in the sense there won’t be anymore, so keep in mind the big questions won’t be answered.  However, the books were brilliantly written, with a character who with limited magic dealt with the world in a methodical approach in stopping creatures from another dimension running wild.  The “enemy” is more unusual than what I’ve written, the world building is reasonably unique.
  • Connor Grey series (Mark Del Franco) – I was a big fan of this series until the last book, which I thought was weak.  But that’s partly because there are certain types/styles of ending I don’t like, and this fit the bill (on several fronts).  Therefore others may be fans right up to the end.  Given the strength of the series up to then, I've put it here rather than below in the "good" section.  The series focuses on a main character who is an ex-agent whose magic is partly broken.  A high magic world, and interesting characters and development. 
  • Bareback by Kit Whitfield is a fantastic stand alone book set in a world where everyone is a werewolf except a handful of people born "bareback", with no fur.  A really good story, it deals with prejudice and abuse, and the themes are very adult.  It also has a good mystery which the story centres around.  I've used this book for "serious readers" who "think  fantasy is a joke genre for serious writing".  

A few which are good, but not great.  I'd recommend them to read.  

  • The Karma trilogy is a nice series, one of those dealing with people who are archetypes (a little like the Indexing books by Seanan Mcguire). You can buy all three as a single kindle book on Amazon pretty cheaply. 
  • Speaking of which, Seanan McGuire's Indexing books (2) are both good books dealing with a protagonist who is struggling to avoid being an archetype, and stop fairy tales from taking over the world.  Varies between the slightly silly and very seriously adult.  Very enjoyable books.  
  • Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett.  A nice series about someone who summons demons.  The series is solid, a good read, although it hits you over the head with the romance.  The books use a reasonably unique system of magic, so you're not seeing the traditional werewolves and vampires here (by memory...)  
  • The Sarah Jane Beauhall books by J. A. Pitts is a nice little series of 4 books which centre around a lesbian blacksmith for Movies and re-enactment festivals.  The series doesn't blow you away, but are a good, solid read.  
  • J.C. Nelson's Grim Agency books are a good read with another reasonably unique magic world.  The main protagonist works for the Grim Agency, which is an enterprise that sells wishes from the head of the agency, a Fairy Godfather.  The books mix a little of ridiculous high adventure in, but generally are a lot of fun.  Not unexpected Marissa Locks the protagonist has a bit of a special history, but frequently she has to manage with a lot less assets up her sleeves than those around her.     
  • Melisa F Olson's Scarlett Bernard & Disrupted Magic series (same character, really the same series) are set in a traditional vampire/werewolf world.  The difference being that the protagonist is a null.  She's hired out by the supernatural community to clean up after them.  The series is well written, and the world is pretty good despite the standard supernatural creatures.  There are further spin-off books set in the same world.  
  • Susan Illene's Sensor series, is another series where the main protagonist has a slight twist in a reasonably standard world of werewolves and vampires.  In this case it is that she is a sensor, and can detect supernatural creatures.  Sensors are rare because supernaturals see them as a huge risk.  The series is solidly written, although it moves into a slightly more extreme high magic world as the series progresses.  The romance is hit you over the head stuff obvious, and involves an Alpha male to boot.  There are also spin-off books in the same world.  The series is good enough to recommend, not good enough to tell people to hunt down.   
  • Jacqueline Carey has two good urban fantasy series. The Agent of Hel trilogy are a rural fantasy series which is reasonably by the numbers, but solidly written and good books.  The protagonist Daisy Johanssen is the enforcer/cop for a town which is protected by Hel, and has a strong tourist trade.  Crimes and evil abound, and Daisy has to stop it.  Good writing, good plotting, but nothing blows you away.  
  • Jacqueline Carey's second completed urban fantasy series is the Santa Olivia and Saints Astray books.  Its about the bastard child of a werewolf growing up in a town that is stuck in a neutral zone between the USA and Mexico after a pandemic/wall building exercise.  Werewolf is probably not the greatest descriptor, since these have no real connection to the traditional stereotype, but are really more genetically injured soldiers.  The books have a strong theme around prejudice, isolation, and are very good to read.  However, the special abilities Loup Gannon have does make her over-powered a little bit.  But the books are still a powerful read and very recommended.  More of a traditional fiction book than a high (or medium) action fantasy books however, as they explore Loup's growing up and exploration of who she is.  
  • The Man from U.N.D.E.A.D books are a very different beast from the ones I've listed above.  Set covering a spy character think of them as a James Bond series with more humour.  They are full of action, are over the top, and about a character saving the world in a very spy, action movie kind of way.  But fun.  
  • Simon R. Green's Nightside books are short, high action, over the top noire books about a detective in the nightside.  Very adult themes, and runs the line between ridiculous and fun.  Have a strong action movie, James Bond feel like the Man from U.N.D.E.A.D book above.  Although also a bit of a feel of Harry Dresden.
  • Helen Harper has a LOT of urban fantasy books.  Most of her series are IMO ok, without really being strong enough to move to the "Good" list here.  Generally very light hearted, simple plots with out a huge amount of substance.  Her The Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic Book series is the exception.  It just has a perfect blend of humour and good plots, which moves it onto my Good list.  
Edited by ants
Added some series

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/12/2019 at 4:32 PM, ants said:

Pax Arcana (Eliott James) – a much more traditional urban fantasy, but extremely well written with a knight/werewolf hybrid protagonist who has to negotiate a world where most creatures are hunting him, and a geas on him limits his choices.  Very well written, comes to a very good conclusion, and has strong plots. 

I loved this series, and Elliot James seems to have evaporated.  Social Media accounts have no updates.  Website has no updates.  I think there's more story there to be told.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just realised today I missed one classic. That was probably my first urban fantasy series.  The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Fantastic introductory series. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm very excited about the Hollows series being continued by Kim Harrison. I'm glad it's being revived and while I doubt Ivy and Rachel will ever hook up, I do hope they sink the Trent/Rachel relationship. I also hope they can at least revive the Ivy and Rachel friendship as the book series was almost unique in that it was a UF about a strong female friendship front and center.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spellcrackers final book delayed another year again. Now due January 2021. I originally pre-ordered it in 2014! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am presently reading the Blood Ties series by Tanya Huff and very much enjoying it. I watched the television series and while they were very different, I happened to enjoy both.

I also note that while the Tome of Bill series was crass and a bit sexist, the sequel Bill of the Dead is a lot more mature and interesting. Neither have anything on the Hybrid of High Moon series that stars a half-werewolf/half witch named Bentley. I absolutely love those books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just recently read the Kings Watch series by Mark Hayden.  Just the core series, none of the novellas or the previous work (which I'm not sure if it is urban fantasy).  Overall it was a pretty good read, although I suspect the main character may irritate some readers.  He's a little bit full of himself, and his morals are a bit lacking.  The tendency to kind of finish abruptly, and then pick up immediately in the next book could also be irritating if there weren't already five written.  Others may not like the attention paid to the ordinary life (including cricket :) ).  

But the world portrayed and the storylines are very well done, the writing quality is good, and there are many very well fleshed out side characters.  Unlike many urban fantasy novels the investigations actually take weeks if not months, which is far more realistic, although that does mean Hayden concentrates quite a bit on the ordinary life as well.  

Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed them, and would recommend them to others.  Will now read the side/earlier books.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, can I just reiterate how much I HATE the whole international ebook system!!! I was reading Seanan McGuire's Incrypid series, and had the joy of finding out that although the books are all ebooks, in the UK you can only get 3 of the series on Amazon.  Damn it.  

On 11/22/2019 at 10:30 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

I'm very excited about the Hollows series being continued by Kim Harrison. I'm glad it's being revived and while I doubt Ivy and Rachel will ever hook up, I do hope they sink the Trent/Rachel relationship. I also hope they can at least revive the Ivy and Rachel friendship as the book series was almost unique in that it was a UF about a strong female friendship front and center.

Mixed feeling on this.  I was pretty happy with where the series finished.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit odd.  Karen Chance's new Cassandra Palmer book ("Shatter the Earth") is listed on her website as coming out in December 2019.  On Amazon.com there is a blog on Karen Chance's author page saying it's coming out on 20 January 2020.  The blog post is from one month ago, the website is up to date (and talks about the latest cover, has the first two chapters as samples), so everything seems in order. 

Yet neither the US or UK Amazon sites have the book on them, so you can't pre-order.  Can't even find it.  

Weird and annoying.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@ants  Have you read The Black Sun's Daughter books by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)?  They seem to fit your tastes.  

I just started False Value by Ben Aaronovitch, after finishing the most recent novella - The October Man - yesterday.  Big fan of this series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, RedEyedGhost said:

I just started False Value by Ben Aaronovitch, after finishing the most recent novella - The October Man - yesterday.  Big fan of this series.

I just started that this week as well.  I got a little tripped up with the back and forth of the first few chapters. I didn't notice at first the months kept flipping and it was a bit confusing!  But now I've gotten it straightened out.

I normally order the English hardcover but didn't do so on time before quarantine set in and decided I needed a treat so purchased the ebook for now.  Hope to get the hardcover once this is all over as I love these covers so much and like to have a physical copy for the shelves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, lady narcissa said:

I normally order the English hardcover but didn't do so on time before quarantine set in and decided I needed a treat so purchased the ebook for now.  Hope to get the hardcover once this is all over as I love these covers so much and like to have a physical copy for the shelves.

Me too, luckily mine arrived from the Book Depository several weeks ago.  I had forgotten to order it, but @williamjm mentioned it in the first quarter thread just as it was released.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, lady narcissa said:

I normally order the English hardcover but didn't do so on time before quarantine set in and decided I needed a treat so purchased the ebook for now.  Hope to get the hardcover once this is all over as I love these covers so much and like to have a physical copy for the shelves. 

The covers are great. I do like that the cover has a cyberpunk feel to it that's quite appropriate for the book but is still in the same style as the other covers. The edition I have also grows in the dark, which is a bit silly but fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

False Value took me a bit longer to get into than the others, but once the story got going it dragged me in just like the rest of the series has. The mixed up timeline threw me off a bit. I enjoyed the central mystery, and it was nice to have more of a standalone after the conclusion of the previous arc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Liffguard said:

False Value took me a bit longer to get into than the others, but once the story got going it dragged me in just like the rest of the series has. The mixed up timeline threw me off a bit. I enjoyed the central mystery, and it was nice to have more of a standalone after the conclusion of the previous arc.

I agree it's similar in quality to the earlier books, and it did manage to feel a bit different while also having all the familiar elements present.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, williamjm said:

The covers are great. I do like that the cover has a cyberpunk feel to it that's quite appropriate for the book but is still in the same style as the other covers. The edition I have also grows in the dark, which is a bit silly but fun.

The cover glows in the dark? Oh my! Thanks for sharing that tidbit. I must procure it for sure then once this is all over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, lady narcissa said:

The cover glows in the dark? Oh my! Thanks for sharing that tidbit. I must procure it for sure then once this is all over.

It does have a sticker on it saying 'Limited First Edition Glow in the Dark Cover", so maybe not all the editions will have that effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PEACE TALKS is the thing I'm looking forward to most but I appreciate Jim's publishers split it into two books so it's now two books with BATTLE GROUNDS coming out a few months later.

It will FEEL like more work.

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

@Spaßvogel (and to all the rest reading/posting in this thread): 

Given a lot of us are in a Coronal lock-down at the moment, the big SF/Fantasy store in town, Galaxy, has set up a Discord-based chat where they discuss, among other things, paranormal romance and fantasy novels. My partner is a regular attendee at their monthly paranormal romance book club. For those that might be interested in this, here's the information: 

Facebook Website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GalaxyBookshopEvents

Discord: https://discord.gg/pcJyjqD

 

Edited by IlyaP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...