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Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 4.0

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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. 

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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Note that some of these books I read a long time ago, so my views might be a little out of date.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. 
  • 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 (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. 
  • Hollows series (Kim Harrison) – another post-apocalyptic world with magic now flourishing (although 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 strong 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 rights 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 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 extremely well 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).  The series though is quite strong dealing with a main character who is an ex-agent whose magic is partly broken.  A high magic world, and interesting characters and development. 
  • The Karma trilogy is a nice series, one of those dealing with people who are archetypes (a little like indexing). You can buy all three as a single kindle book. 
Edited by ants

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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.  

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