I discovered Urban Fantasy in my twenties by accident. It all started with Tanya Huff's Blood Series, where I fell head over heels with a 'different' kind of vampire tale. I thought it was a paranormal type of mystery at first, and wanted to seek more of them out. On an AOL group (remember those?), I was directed to try others of the genre, still not knowing the name, starting with the Anita Blake series. Eventually this was followed by the Sookie Stackhouse novels. My inner bookworm was completely hooked.
If I were asked today why I'm so drawn to the genre, it's hard to tell you in a detailed sketch. The main draw seems to be the definition of the genre itself, the excitement of having the paranormal in an urban setting, an ordinary type of world we live in but with the exception of that world being populated by mythical creatures. Sometimes these beings are hidden, undetected from most of society and kept secret from all except a select few. In other times, it's our world but with an additional structured society overshadowed by the paranormal. Sometimes this world is heavily structured and broken into categories by the paranormal sections like in Kim Harrison's The Hollows, where humans are on even playing ground or even inferior.
The appeal of all this dishes out enough juicy fantasy to where it's tantalizing, but not overwhelming. Instead of having a rich fantasy world that's far out there, alien to the reader, it's familiar enough to make sense, interesting enough to transform itself subtly enough to make it fascinating.
Besides the world building, whether hidden or not, there is almost always a protagonist who has something special about them. Let's face it, most of us enjoy reading about special individuals who are unique and sought after for that uniqueness. Whether it's a power level like Anita Blake's unusual necromancy strength or Kara Gillian's strong summoning skills, an oddity like the ability to be a female shapeshifter in the Bitten series or Rachel Morgan in the Hollows, an abnormality hybrid like Cal in the Cal Leandros series or special parentage of Kate Daniels, a special one-person-only calling like Cassie Palmer, or some strange destiny that is foretold, all of it makes the character something extra special to read about. There are driving forces driving the heroes and villains toward them, stakes always raised.
There's usually at least a little romance to keep things interesting and tingling - sometimes it plays a large part and almost crosses into the paranormal romance element, sometimes hot passion is present that's as interesting as the storyline, but mainly its used with the right tough, just enough to enrich the plot and make it that much more interesting. Dark Urban Fantasy can be even more exciting in a twisted way if the hero romantic interest is an anti-hero, someone who is halfway bad or definitely in the grey areas, such as Barrons from the Fae Chronicles or the heart-interests in the Lilith Saintcrow series.
I love first person point of view. Not every Urban Fantasy employs this technique, of course, but it's the norm. I enjoy a third person point of view as much as any dedicated reader, but I never outgrew the first person intimate POV that I grew up on, even if the publishing world started frowning on it. In third-person POV we can get into the heads of multiple characters, but with first person POV I can uncover mysteries about the others motivations and what they know but I don't along with our main character. I can live the book through their head alone, which no other point of view can come close to replacing.
Finally, most Urban Fantasies are a series and not singles, where each book carries more interesting adventures with the characters I fell in love with by book one.
I'm sure there are other reasons - reasons I'm not even aware of - but these are the main appeals the genre holds for this UF enthusiast.
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