What are some well written Urban Fantasy novels or well done Urban fantasy movies/tv shows?

Kulay WolfKulay Wolf Posts: 10,872
edited December 1969 in The Commons

What are some well written Urban Fantasy novels or well done Urban fantasy movies/TV shows? Also maybe some good urban fantasy graphic novels too.


I am interested in writing Urban Fantasy and maybe doing some graphic novels based on those stories. I want to see how these books are written not to copy them but to understand how to write that genre better.


I did get my own copy of Living Dead in Dallas to read and then analyze. I also got a copy of Time Traveler's Wife (I know not exactly urban fantasy, but thought it might help)


I also like the Vampire Academy series and the Bloodlines series. I had those books but I have lost most of my books. I have a copy of Mona Lisa Awakening by Sunny but I have not taken it out of my trunk of my car.

I did checked out a book called Marked and a book caled Prisoner of Azkaban. I am requesting Fool Moon.

Adult books are fine but I do not mind young adult.


Thank you!

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Comments

  • Knight22179Knight22179 Posts: 1,075
    edited December 1969

    Not sure if it's URBAN Fantasy but I like Chronicles of Narnia. :)

  • MistyMistMistyMist Posts: 15,184
    edited December 1969

    my favorite is The Hollows series by Kim Harrison.
    and Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

  • Saba TaruSaba Taru Posts: 74
    edited December 1969

    There's also the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman, the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (which I think you listed book 2 of in your original post), the Jane True series by Nicole Peeler, and the Grave Witch / Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price. I enjoyed all of them.

    Although not quite what I'd call Urban Fantasy (but close), there's the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne and the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey (this one is not for everyone). I also enjoyed the heck out of these, but I'll admit that my taste in literature isn't quite like everyone else's... :)

  • jerriecanjerriecan Posts: 402
    edited December 1969

    Definitely the Dresden Files - these are some of my favorite books in any genre.

  • K T OngK T Ong Posts: 359
    edited December 1969

    There's a tabletop role-playing game known as World of Darkness, which is all about urban legends. You get to role-play one of those creatures of the night, such as vampires (of course) or werewolves, or just a plain human who runs around screaming from those creatures. The rules of the game and the details of the world or setting in which the game takes place can be a great source of inspiration. You might like to start with the core rulebook.

  • namffuaknamffuak Posts: 901
    edited December 1969

    Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, either the novel or the graphic story.

  • SickleYieldSickleYield Posts: 5,992
    edited December 1969

    Holly Black's Tithe, Valiant and Ironside. These are marketed as "young adult" books, but they're very suitable for adult reading. Valiant in particular has a more urban fantasy vibe.

  • SprinklesSprinkles Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Mercedes Lackey Bedlam Bard series and Serrated Edge series

  • ColdrakeColdrake Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    I'm a big fan of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series.


    Coldrake

  • sikeussikeus Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer actually originated the urban fantasy genre, at least that's what Lou Anders, editor of Pyr Books said. So that's a good one to have a grasp on. The TV show Charmed was also very much in that style. There are spin-offs of course, but the urban fantasy genre tends to be women with some sort of magical power kicking the bad guys/demons around in a modern urban setting.

    Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, which I love, probably falls into traditional fantasy genre. I want to say high fantasy, or sword and sorcery fantasy. (The sorcery part of that one.) That's because it has a medieval setting, with all that entails.

    I write in the fantasy genre as well. I had no clue what urban fantasy was till I went to some conventions that talked about the differences.

  • Richard HaseltineRichard Haseltine Posts: 19,370
    edited December 1969

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a film in 1992, and a television series from 1997 on. Emma Bull's War for the oaks was published in 1987 and is generally credited with being one of the earliest urban fantasy stories, though as with any genre there are various antecedents before it became an identified genre as such. And I would add War for the Oaks to the list. Charles de Lint's Jack the Giant Killer is another 1987 early urban fantasy, it and it's sequel (Drink Down the Moon) are also worth checking.

  • bytescapesbytescapes Posts: 489
    edited December 1969

    I think I get tired of urban fantasy faster than any other flavor of SF/fantasy: there's an awful lot of bad, cookie-cutter urban fantasy out there, and it seems less imaginative and more constrained than other sub-genres. I can only take so many steely-eyed half-{vampire/werewolf/fairy} heroines and their steely-eyed {vampire/werewolf/fairy} lovers before my stomach starts to rebel.

    Richard mentioned "War for the Oaks", which pretty much established the genre. Not one of my favorite books, but it's source material if you're writing in the genre. Another influential early book is Megan Lindholm's "Wizard of the Pigeons", which I remember as not being bad. I liked 'Wizard' more than 'Oaks', but both are probably required reading if you want to know what the conventions are.

    Someone else mentioned Kadrey's "Sandman Slim" cycle ("Sandman Slim", "Kill the Dead", "Aloha from Hell", "Devil Said Bang"), which aren't quite urban fantasy - call them 'noirmonsterpunk' - but are a fun read. My favorite Kadrey may actually be "Butcher Bird", which he described as a kind of trial run for "Sandman Slim"; it's even further from being urban fantasy, but it's very vivid and enjoyable.

    Gaiman's "Neverwhere", mentioned by someone else, is much more inventive than the usual hackneyed urban fantasy: a nice sense for myth, and no steely-eyed half-vampires in sight. His "American Gods" is road-trip-fantasy rather than urban fantasy, but it's also pretty imaginative.

  • fivecatfivecat Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    angusm said:
    I think I get tired of urban fantasy faster than any other flavor of SF/fantasy: there's an awful lot of bad, cookie-cutter urban fantasy out there, and it seems less imaginative and more constrained than other sub-genres. I can only take so many steely-eyed half-{vampire/werewolf/fairy} heroines and their steely-eyed {vampire/werewolf/fairy} lovers before my stomach starts to rebel.
    I think more of Charles de Lint when I hear 'urban fantasy.' There is certainly too much vampire/werewolf in a lot of current fiction but it is obviously popular.

    Hmm, what is the definition of urban fantasy? It brought something to mind, but I'm not sure I'm thinking of the same genre as others.

  • jakibluejakiblue Posts: 2,007
    edited December 1969

    angusm said:
    I think I get tired of urban fantasy faster than any other flavor of SF/fantasy: there's an awful lot of bad, cookie-cutter urban fantasy out there, and it seems less imaginative and more constrained than other sub-genres. I can only take so many steely-eyed half-{vampire/werewolf/fairy} heroines and their steely-eyed {vampire/werewolf/fairy} lovers before my stomach starts to rebel.

    I'm with you on that! I was a BIG fan of Urban Fantasy, but I've lost my taste for it, due to the same ol' tropes in every single one. I've started to read UF that has a MALE protagonist (sp?) instead of the kick-arse female - the male leads have far fewer tropes.

    K. A. Stewart's "Jesse James Dawson" series is good - " A Devil in the Details" and "A Shot in the Dark". (male lead)
    Mark del Franco's "Connor Grey" series is excellent - "Unshapely Things" being the first.
    And I second the Kevin Hearne series - the Iron Druid Chronicles.

  • bytescapesbytescapes Posts: 489
    edited October 2012

    fivecat said:
    ...what is the definition of urban fantasy? It brought something to mind, but I'm not sure I'm thinking of the same genre as others.

    My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural - magic, or magical creatures such as werewolves, vampires and fairies, or magical realms, such as Faerie. In other words, it describes our modern, technological world as coexisting with magic and magical beings or places.

    So, for example, I wouldn't consider Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn" or Fritz Lieber's "Lankhmar" series to be urban fantasy because - although they have urban settings - the cities described aren't our cities. And I don't know if I'd consider Zelazny's "Nine Princes in Amber" (or Henry Kuttner's "The Dark World", which inspired it) to be urban fantasy because, even though they feature a protagonist who begins in a mundane world - ours - and then discovers the existence of a parallel, magical world, the bulk of the action takes place in the magical world.

    The "vampires! vampires everywhere!" strand of urban fantasy (i.e. Charlie Huston) is a little different from the "there are fairies at the bottom of the garden" strand (i.e. Emma Bull's "War for the Oaks"), but they both juxtapose the familiar modern world with elements of the supernatural.

    Discussion of whether Harry Potter or "Twilight" are urban fantasy is left as an exercise for the reader ...

    Post edited by bytescapes on
  • fivecatfivecat Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    angusm said:
    fivecat said:
    ...what is the definition of urban fantasy? It brought something to mind, but I'm not sure I'm thinking of the same genre as others.

    My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural - magic, or magical creatures such as werewolves, vampires and fairies, or magical realms, such as Faerie. In other words, it describes our modern, technological world as coexisting with magic and magical beings or places.

    So, for example, I wouldn't consider Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn" or Fritz Lieber's "Lankhmar" series to be urban fantasy because - although they have urban settings - the cities described aren't our cities. And I don't know if I'd consider Zelazny's "Nine Princes in Amber" (or Henry Kuttner's "The Dark World", which inspired it) to be urban fantasy because, even though they feature a protagonist who begins in a mundane world - ours - and then discovers the existence of a parallel, magical world, the bulk of the action takes place in the magical world.

    The "vampires! vampires everywhere!" strand of urban fantasy (i.e. Charlie Huston) is a little different from the "there are fairies at the bottom of the garden" strand (i.e. Emma Bull's "War for the Oaks"), but they both juxtapose the familiar modern world with elements of the supernatural.

    Discussion of whether Harry Potter or "Twilight" are urban fantasy is left as an exercise for the reader ...

    Thank you for explaining it for me. I haven't been a fan of urban fantasy so I'm a bit lost (although I did read the Amber series).

  • bytescapesbytescapes Posts: 489
    edited October 2012

    fivecat said:
    angusm said:
    My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural ...

    Thank you for explaining it for me. I haven't been a fan of urban fantasy so I'm a bit lost (although I did read the Amber series).

    Well, that was how I understand it. But Wikipedia says that all that is necessary is for the fantasy to have an urban setting. Under that definition, "Mistborn" would qualify (even though the world described is nothing like ours). So too, presumably, would Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" (Mieville describes his own works as 'weird fiction').

    For me, Wikipedia's definition is too inclusive, but they have rather more authority than I do, so you may want to take their definition over mine.

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' ["Through the Looking Glass", Lewis Carroll]

    Post edited by bytescapes on
  • fivecatfivecat Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    angusm said:

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' ["Through the Looking Glass", Lewis Carroll]

    I must then blame Humpty for the abuse of lose and loose. :blank:

  • faedanzfaedanz Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    The Story Board Ep. 1 "Urban Fantasy: Threat or Menace?"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52khu_YJAmo

  • K T OngK T Ong Posts: 359
    edited October 2012

    angusm said:
    My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural - magic, or magical creatures such as werewolves, vampires and fairies, or magical realms, such as Faerie. In other words, it describes our modern, technological world as coexisting with magic and magical beings or places.

    Going by this definition, H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos would surely fit the bill. And I'd certainly rank it as one of the greatest creations of modern imaginative literature. Vampires, werewolves and faerie are just jokes compared to the Great Old Ones IMO.

    Post edited by K T Ong on
  • DWGDWG Posts: 772
    edited December 1969

    The Encyclopaedia of Fantasy says "Urban Fantasies are normally texts where fantasy and the mundane world intersect and interweave throughout a tale which is significantly about a real city, There are many exceptions...." - it's a very inclusive definition and I think the genre has evolved since the Encyclopaedia was written.

    It's actually the market's definition a writer needs to look at, and for the current market that means stories set in our world, or a very close parallel world, in which the supernatural intertwines with normality. It's very necessary to realise that Urban Fantasy has also become a romance genre. I'm struggling to think of a successful series in which the primary character doesn't have a complicated love live:

    Mercy Thomson series : Heroine seduced by and eventually marries the tall, dark and handsome werewolf pack leader, some competition from the visiting son of the werewolf king.
    Alpha and Omega series (Mercy Thomson spin-off): Heroine seduced by and rapidly marries the tall, dark and handsome other son of the king of the werewolves.
    Hollows Series (Rachel Morgan): Spends several books involved with a male vampire, has a brief fling with another witch, lusts after/is lusted after by the ghost of a century dead demon hunter, is lusted after by her female vampire partner, has ongoing sexual tension with the politically powerful elf druglord.
    Women of the Otherworld: Where to start? They all end up paired off! Even the dead half-demon witch ends up shacked up with her dead ex-lover (in the six months of the year she isn't an avenging angel and not supposed to think about that kind of thing). Cutest pairing may be the two werewolves, who end up with twins, but the start of that relationship is very twisted.
    Kitty Norville series: Werewolf heroine ends up marrying her lawyer, after he gets bitten too, which is surprising as the smart money was probably on the tall, dark and manly werewolf hunter.
    Anita Blake: Um, lets just say the girl gets about.

    Not all of these are set in a particular city, some of them wander from place to place, others have a very strong attachment to a particular city, and some even take place in small towns or the countryside - cf the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series.

    TV Series I'd consider stereotypically Urban Fantasy include Lost Girl, Grimm, Buffy, Angel, and True Blood. There have been plenty of others, but these are the better known/current ones.

    Another way of looking at many of the successful urban fantasies might be as horror that doesn't set out to scare the pants off you, the successful ones tend to have notably dark elements, and the romances aren't at all fluffy. Of the heroines in the series I listed, at least three have been raped, two repeatedly over extended periods (both of those in backstory, thankfully), and another has suffered the equivalent of rape in being forcibly made a werewolf by her boyfriend.

  • DWGDWG Posts: 772
    edited December 1969

    K T Ong said:
    Going by this definition, H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos would surely fit the bill. And I'd certainly rank it as one of the greatest creations of modern imaginative literature. Vampires, werewolves and faerie are just jokes compared to the Great Old Ones IMO.

    Definitely not in the right territory for the modern urban fantasy market. As I said in my previous post it's hybridized with romance literature and there are authors who write both. If you look at the Urban Fantasy section in a bookstore you'll quickly realize a lot of the readers are teenage girls.

  • bytescapesbytescapes Posts: 489
    edited December 1969

    K T Ong said:
    angusm said:
    My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural ...

    Going by this definition, H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos would surely fit the bill. And I'd certainly rank it as one of the greatest creations of modern imaginative literature. Vampires, werewolves and faerie are just jokes compared to the Great Old Ones IMO.

    I hadn't thought of it that way, but yes, you're right. Although a certain amount of Lovecraft's writing features rural rather than urban settings, making it technically desolate-moorland-or-swamp-inhabited-by-degenerate-half-breeds fantasy rather than urban fantasy ...

  • OstadanOstadan Posts: 338
    edited December 1969

    Modern harrydresdenish type: the October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire.
    Old school - Tolkien's friend Charles Williams wrote of the spiritual/supernatural world impinging on modern (1930s) England. Try 'The Greater Trumps', although it (like much of Williams) can be enigmatic at times. On the other hand, Williams was a very visual person - I sometimes wonder if he had films in mind as he wrote - and his books are filled with wonderful imagery.

  • K T OngK T Ong Posts: 359
    edited October 2012

    To angusm: The Cthulhu Mythos basically actually spans the whole of time and space, so to be sure it may in fact not be possible to limit it to urban fantasy, or to narrow genre definitions of any kind like SF, fantasy or whatever. It's just... imaginative literature.

    DWG said:
    Definitely not in the right territory for the modern urban fantasy market. As I said in my previous post it's hybridized with romance literature and there are authors who write both. If you look at the Urban Fantasy section in a bookstore you'll quickly realize a lot of the readers are teenage girls.

    A Cthulhu-themed short story by a certain Esther M. Friesner titled 'Love's Eldritch Ichor' actually reads like a teenage romance with lots of slapstick humor. :cheese:

    Post edited by K T Ong on
  • DWGDWG Posts: 772
    edited December 1969

    K T Ong said:
    DWG said:
    Definitely not in the right territory for the modern urban fantasy market. As I said in my previous post it's hybridized with romance literature and there are authors who write both. If you look at the Urban Fantasy section in a bookstore you'll quickly realize a lot of the readers are teenage girls.

    A Cthulhu-themed short story by a certain Esther M. Friesner titled 'Love's Eldritch Ichor' actually reads like a teenage romance with lots of slapstick humor. :cheese:

    Esther Friesner has a territory that's all her own;) But the OP was asking about urban fantasy for the purposes of writing, and answering that means looking at what's actually sold under that label rather than poking at the boundaries to include personal favourites. If you go into a bookstore you definitely won't find Lovecraft filed under Urban Fantasy.

  • fivecatfivecat Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    DWG said:
    But the OP was asking about urban fantasy for the purposes of writing, and answering that means looking at what's actually sold under that label rather than poking at the boundaries to include personal favourites. If you go into a bookstore you definitely won't find Lovecraft filed under Urban Fantasy.

    The OP hasn't replied to anyone so I wonder if they care.

  • icprncssicprncss Posts: 3,444
    edited December 1969

    When I took Modern Lit at Columbia, Urban Fantasy was defined as literature set in the modern world with magical or paranormal elements.

    There were separate categories for Future History, Alternate Universe/History (often used interchangeably), and Apocalyptic (Religious and non-religious)/Post-Apocalyptic (religious and non-religious).

  • Miss BMiss B Posts: 3,069
    edited December 1969

    I'm not sure how I'd define Urban Fantasy, I just know what I like. :-)

    That said, as others have mentioned, I'm a huge fan of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, and just finished the latest, Ghost Story, last week. I'm also a fan of Patricia Briggs' books, both her Mercy Thompson and her Alpha And Omega series, and I'll third (to Jaki's second) the Iron Druid Chronicles, as I enjoyed them immensely. As for the rest of my extensive library of books, my reading tastes are pretty eclectic, so there's a fair mix of spy/foreign intigue, murder mystery, sci-fi and other types of fantasy mixed in.

    One series that no one's mentioned that I really like is Sherrilynn Kenyon's Dark-Hunters Series, though whether they could be categorized as Urban Fantasy, I'll have to leave up to the individual reader to decide.

  • BarubaryBarubary Posts: 947
    edited December 1969

    DWG said:

    TV Series I'd consider stereotypically Urban Fantasy include Lost Girl, Grimm, Buffy, Angel, and True Blood. There have been plenty of others, but these are the better known/current ones.

    Just for the record, I recently watched 'Lost Girl' with a pal and thought it was pretty good. Has been a while since I had this much fun with a TV Show.

    The overall plot is mediocre at best, but the Characters are all very likeable and have a great chemistry between them, and, of course, Kenzi is one of the best sidekicks I ever seen ^^

    It's a good example of how great the effect of decent characters and their relationship can be. I also thought the concept of the 'fantasy realm' being split into 'light' and 'dark' (as opposed to 'good' and 'evil') was rather unique.

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