Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Appeal of Urban Fantasy

There was a time when I thought I didn’t like any fantasy at all, but that isn’t really true anymore. I really like what is commonly referred to as urban fantasy, a blending of the world as we know it with fantasy world.

Something about urban fantasy is much more appealing..I don’t have to get comfortable with a lot of names and places that aren’t real, the hint of reality makes it all much more accessible. And while there are certainly rules that each world must follow, some of those rules are the same as the world I live in!

When I was at Comic-Con this past summer, I attended a panel called the Evolution of Fantasy. I really enjoyed this panel for the opinionated panelists and their obvious enthusiasm for fantasy. This is where I discovered Cindy Pon (she’s really nice!) and saw Patrick Rothfuss.

I didn’t agree with a lot of what Rothfuss had to say, particularly his slights against Harry Potter and Young Adult Literature. But he did mention that he felt the appeal of urban fantasy was the same as that of fairy tales explaining that the appeal of fairy tales is that they make the mundane world fantastical and the fantastical more real. I felt like that perfectly explained the appeal of urban fantasy to me over the kind of fantasy where nothing is familiar and my imagination is taxed. :)

How about you? Do you enjoy fantasy? Urban fantasy? Do you think there's any truth in Rothfuss's assesment? If you don't like urban fantasy why not? Have you read Patrick Rothfuss' book The Name of the Wind?




Amy

32 comments:

Rhiannon Hart said...

What did Rothfuss say about YA lit?? I'm just about to read The Name of the Wind but if he's maligning my favourite sort of book then I think I might just think twice about it!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Urban fantasy stretches the confines of traditional fantasy, i.e. elves & dwarves & the like. So I can see the appeal.
I think I like a mix, although I've not read a lot of urban fantasy. I'm more of a sci-fi person, but I like a split between connections to Terra Earth and complete fabrication.

Nicole said...

I think that I like some urban fantasy, as long as a book doesn't have creatures or zombies, I can read it. I haven't had a lot of time to read any though.

jennysbooks said...

I've never been the hugest fan of urban fantasy. I'm pretty picky about my fantasy, really - but in general, I haven't loved most of the urban fantasy I've tried. Maybe just haven't stumbled on the right authors yet?

SciFiGuy said...

Amy I would say Rothfuss' asessment is pretty accurate. I've seen a number of similar opinions around the urban fantasy author community. I also share that view. The attraction of UF is that for the most part it is set in contemporary situations bringing to it some sense of wonder with the introduction of the many and varied supernatural elements. In some cases it is more accessible than fantasy as the world-building is not as overwhelming. As for The Name of the Wind, it's a terrific book and one I often recommend to friends unfamiliar with fantasy and looking for a solid introduction to the genre.

Molly said...

I have never been a fan of fantasy, but this past year I am really trying to stretch my literary box. I started Harry Potter and found that I really do enjoy that series.

I am not familiar with the term "urban fantasy" and appreciated your definition. Are there particular books in the genre that you would highly recommend?

Brenda said...

I love to read all types of fantasy. My favorite is epic fantasy. Urban fantasy is good, but I can get burned out on it more easily. The appeal of fantasy, for me, is that each book and world is so different.

Jessica Kennedy said...

I'm a huge urban fantasy fan.

Favorite authors would be: J.R. Ward, Gena Showalter, Rachel Vincent, Jocelynn Drake, Larissa Ione, Kresley Cole and many more.

I'm also a fan of fantasy. It's a bit trickier because of the world building but it's always fun! :)

Kailana said...

"the appeal of urban fantasy was the same as that of fairy tales explaining that the appeal of fairy tales is that they make the mundane world fantastical and the fantastical more real."

I really like that! As someone that reads a lot of fantasy, this really sums up why I do on so many levels. Thanks for sharing!

Ana said...

The Name of the Wind is the best book I read this year. I loved it so much and I generally think so well of Patrick Rothfuss that I am willing to pretend I did not read about his HP and YA opinion. *g*

Hagelrat said...

I love UF, one of my fave types of read.

KyleeJ said...

As far as fantasy goes, I tend to like epic fantasy most. Favorites are Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Legacy, almost all of David/Leigh Eddings' series, Elizabeth Haydon and Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

The only UF I've read lately I've liked. Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia, Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels, and (though I'm not sure if it is technically UF) Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Gwendolyn B. said...

I've only read a little bit of fantasy and that was years ago. However, I just finished GRACELING and I'm going to read FIRE. I've also got DEFENDERS OF THE SCROLL "on tap" AND I'm getting lured in by steampunk! Oh, the joys of reading - you can go anywhere, any time - even if it doesn't exist!

Lorin said...

I read and enjoyed Name of the Wind (insert shameless plug for my review here), so I'm really curious what Rothfuss had to say about Harry Potter. Orphan boy, school for magic, hmm, I see a parallel.

Anyway, I love urban fantasy, but I love a lot of fantasy.

Jeanne said...

I like urban fantasy because it makes fairy stories full of trickiness and danger again. Like most fantasy readers, I'd gotten tired of too many rainbow unicorn worlds. But I really do wish that fantasy writers would stop bashing each other. Ursula K. LeGuin started it, feeling overlooked that she wrote a book about a wizard school first!

heidenkind said...

Harry Potter slights at ComiCon? Is that guy suicidal?

I'm all for fantasy, but I usually like my fantasy straight-up: other worlds, historical romance novels (~_^), etc. Urban fantasy is okay but I don't read a lot of it. For me it doesn't make the real world seem more fantastical, but Rothfuss' assessment about its appeal may be right. Although I think the appeal of fairy tales is that prepare you for a screwed up life.

HilBil said...

If the Twilight series is considered 'urban fantasy' then I am a fan! Although I admit I was sketchy about reading those books initially b/c the fantasy genre is not typically my style. Part of the reason I like reading fiction is b/c I feel as though a lot of those stories could be reality. While Twilight-type stuff could not happen in reality, I definitely like the mix of fantasy with reality. Having said that, I tried Harry Potter and just couldn't get into it.

Sheila B. said...

In his list of favorite fantasy reads on Amazon.com, Patrick Rothfuss includes Harry Potter, and says, "Say what you like, these are fun books to read." Go to the Amazon page for "Name of the Wind." You'll find an interview with him, which includes a link to his list.

S. Krishna said...

I don't read a ton of urban fantasy, but I LOVE The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. If you're looking for a recommendation, pick those up!! The first book in the series is Storm Front.

Belle said...

I like urban fantasy, probably more than I like regular secondary world fantasy. I don't know if I would compare urban fantasies to fairytales but there definitely is something to the allure of the magical in everyday life!

Ana said...

I am really curious now about what he said. I was just reading his blog and he does read YA.

Amanda said...

You should check out A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin. That is definitely what I would consider urban fantasy.

Uninvoked said...

Hey Amy, first time reader here. I saw your link in Peaceful Reader and had to click because--well--the main character in my noveling blog is named Amy. I'm glad I did, even though we are obviously very different readers.

I love fantasy. I've never read Harry Potter, and have only seen one movie, but if I ever did get around to it that would probably be my ideal sort of book. Urban Fantasy is included in that love. ^^

Meghan said...

I love that bit you mentioned from Patrick Rothfuss. I do think that's why urban fantasy is so popular. I love all kinds of fantasy and initially thought I wouldn't like modern day settings as much. Part of fantasy's appeal for me is that whole new world, especially if done properly by the author. But it turns out I love everything fantastical. =)

carolsnotebook said...

I enjoy Urban Fantasy, although sometimes they all run together in my head. I have not read The Name of the Wind, but it's on my list.

Jenny Girl said...

I do like urban fantasy, but for me it depends on the story, whether I will like it or not. Some of the fantasy can be very dark, unhappy, and twisted, and I have to be in the mood for that. Not saying everything needs to shiny happy, but you know, I'm not an emo type of person.
Have Rothfuss' book The Name of the Wind on my tbr. Will try to read it next year. heard great things about it.
And yes, say what you will about Potter, but it got children and adults reading again, so I'm all for it! The woman is creative, you can't deny that.

Nymeth said...

Urban Fantasy is not my favourite branch of fantasy (I still like it, though!), but I love what Rothfuss said about it and fairy tales.

lilly said...

You see, I'm the other way around, I don't really like Urban Fantasy all that much but I love traditional fantasy genre (needless to say, Tolkien and his Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings Trilogy are one of my faves). I think it comes from me being a huge 'saga junkie' and the bigger the book, the thicker the plot and the more time I have to know and spend with characters, the better for me :)

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

I love urban fantasy, and that comparison to fairy tales is excellent! I think it explains what the appeal is - at least to me. The balance between ordinary and extraordinary is exactly what gets me. I still love high fantasy, but urban fantasy is easier to get for me.

Memory said...

I'm like Nymeth - I love fantasy, but urban fantasy isn't my favourite. I think this is because it's still a relatively new subgenre that hasn't yet branched out from its signature tropes. Many of the urban fantasy novels published today rely on the same basic premises, (ex, the strong, wisecracking gal who falls in love with an unsuitable vampire/werewolf/shapeshifter/fallen angel/zombie/sea monkey), and I like a bit more variety than that. I do enjoy some "traditional" urban fantasies, (especially the whole Buffy franchise and Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld novels), and I'm definitely open to stuff that breaks the mold, but I'm really tired of seeing the same basic situations over and over again.

(For the record, I feel much the same about the whole elf/dwarf/hobbit thing in secondary world fantasy, but secondary world stories have been around for a lot longer and have had more time to branch out. Many secondary world authors ignore the old tropes altogether, while others use them in new ways).

I do think Rothfuss is spot-on with his comment about the appeal of urban fantasy, though.

Debbie's World of Books said...

I enjoy both urban fantasy and regular fantasy although I've slowed in the amount of fantasy I read in general unless you count all the YA books :) I am curious what his slight was.

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

Thanks for finally putting a name to this type of story! That will help me a lot when I explain it to my 7th graders.

I'm not a huge fantasy fan - ones like Lord of the Rings. Hate having to learn all the new names and places. But I love the urban fantasy. Fantasy within the world I know.

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