Recommended Urban Fantasy Authors

I had been in lock down mode recently, focused on wrapping up several projects on a tight
timeline. So it’s time to get caught up.

On Thursday, December 8th, I had a book signing for my novel “Brothers In Darkness”. Held at the Things From Another World shop in Beaverton, it also included a radio interview conducted for Brian’s Strange Black Box show on RadioSTFU.com. I’ll cover the interview in a separate post, but wanted to address a question that rose from the session.  Brian referenced the feature on Amazon that provides suggestions for other books: “If you liked this, you’d also like…”. It’s a nice value add made possible by their exponentially growing mountain of aggregated sales data. I made a few suggestions, but could have offered many more. In particular several folks asked me for additional info about the urban fantasy genre.
This week’s post tries to answer that, providing just a few examples of writers that interested readers might want to try. To give a bit of insight into the writer’s style, I’m including links to several short stories or chapters that are freely available on the web.

Jim Butcher
A long running series following white wizard Harry Dresden. It’s a well crafted, imaginative and extremely addicting. I can’t recommend the series enough.

The story and writing improve dramatically from one book to the next, but as it does follow a complex timeline and gajillions of characters, I still recommend starting with the first book and working forward from there. As the series progresses, the books become deeper, darker, more complex and operate on a number of levels. Books six through eleven are just amazing stories. A definite must read.

The series’ audiobooks have also gathered quite a following. All but one volume (“Ghost Story”) is read by the popular James Marsters (Spike from Buffy & Angel), and are generally considered great adaptations. The only exception was due to scheduling issues

You can read the first appearance of Harry Dresden here.  It’s included in the extremely entertaining short story collection “Side Jobs“, and is the only installment set prior to the protagonist setting up shop as a wizard/private detective.

Carrie Vaughn
Vaughn gives us a light-hearted and very fun series tracking lycanthrope Kitty Vaughn, night time talk show host and submissive turned leader of her very own pack.

The books are enjoyable upbeat reads balancing thrills with humor, but it does on occasion effectively push the reader’s emotional buttons, addressing several disturbing subjects along the way.

I’d also recommend checking out her novel “Discord’s Apple”. It’s a struggle to save the world set in the near future, featuring many of the heroes and villains from ancient mythology. Also, her publisher Tor currently has a recent selection from her just released “Kitty’s Greatest Hits”. It can be found here.

At Vaugn’s personal site, you can read the first appearance of Kitty. Later expanded into a full novel, the story introduces the main characters and some of the back story. It can be read here.

Patricia Briggs
In another great series, Patricia Brigg tells the tale of skinwalker Mercy Thompson.

Adopted as a child by lycanthropes, the series is set in modern day South Eastern Washington. The Northwest locations and tone are very authentic, and her inclusion of local native tribes is appreciated. Her characters are strongly defined and the pack dynamics well thought out, providing a strong backdrop for stories that are both emotionally touching and filled with high octane action and suspense.

Nice work on both this series and its sister title, the Alpha and Omega books.
The first chapter of the Mercy book Moon Called can be read here.

Simon Green

Simon Green’s Nightside series is both very urban and very much fantasy, while also packing in futuristic gadgetry, aliens, time travel and repeated world ending planet shattering plot lines. Its ferociously fun and funny, with a British toned mean streak. Definitely not to be considered young adult novels.

Wild, wacky and wicked, these books are enjoyable action filled reads. Read more about Simon Green at his website.

Harry Connolly

Connolly’s Twenty Palaces books are a tightly written, fast paced series set primarily in the Northwest. Taking a very original approach to magic and the supernatural, these books are gripping, violent and filled with tense action scenes. Very well crafted, with well defined, engaging characters. Sample chapters for each book can be found here.

Connolly took the additional step of having a trailer created for the series. It’s a clever idea. The lightning ball chase scene from “Game of Cages” is well represented, and I like the depiction of Annalise.

Probably the least well known of the writers I’m covering, Connolly has a world of talent. I strongly recommend checking out the first installment “Child of Fire“. After that, you’ll be hooked. The fourth book in the series, a prequel, has just been released!

Lilith Saintcrow

Saintcrow is another Northwest author and has recently read at Powell’s Books. Her protagonists are strong willed, tough and dangerous. Combining urban fantasy with cyberpunk, the combination yields great results. Dante Valentine‘s a flawed angry character surviving in a well fleshed out world that’s both believable and nightmarish. Creatively rendered, driven storytelling make this a rewarding series to check out. The author also maintains a highly entertaining Twitter presence, doing the best job I’ve seen using that medium to connect with fans (@lilithsaintcrow).

Laurell K. Hamilton

Hamilton’s long running Anita Blake series has gone through quite an evolution during it’s
run. The first seven books are particularly good. Both a necromancer and vampire hunter, the protagonist encounters a plethora of supernatural creatures.

An excerpt from the first Anita Blake book can be found here.

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