Urban Fantasy is (and I suspect it always will be) my first genre of choice. It’s true that I’ve mostly been reading YA lately, but that’s only because I’ve already gone through everything worth reading in UF, and I have to wait for something new to come out. When you read about 300 books a year, it doesn’t take long to run out of good ones.
It took me a while to put this together and I had to limit myself to eleven, otherwise it would have been a very long list. (Actually, I tried to limit myself to ten and you all see how well that worked out.) There are so many other series I enjoy and I’ll definitely write about them on some other occasion, but for now, here are my top 11:
(Obviously, this goes from my least to my most favorite, because it is a Very Important List, and that's how these things are supposed to go.)
11. Jane True series by Nicole Peeler is, pure and simple, fluff, and I mean that in the best possible way. Jane is a half-selkie. She is not a shifter, she always remains in human form, but she draws her magical abilities from the water, and she recharges by swimming, preferably in the ocean. She lives in Rockabill, Maine, a small town with plenty of supernatural creatures. This series is not to be taken seriously, it’s funny, fast-paced and entertaining as hell, but if you’re looking for something with actual emotional depth, you definitely need to look elsewhere. Fortunately, sometimes fluffy and hilarious is exactly what I need. Besides, don’t you just love that cover?
10. Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs is set in the same universe as her Mercy Thompson series (see no. 4). It’s about Charles, the Marrok’s son, and his mate, Anna. The series is somewhere between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance – it is written in third person, both from Charles’ and Anna’s POVs, which clearly indicates PNR, but it’s focused on more than just their relationship, and the plots are definitely Urban Fantasy. Regardless of my never-ending love for Mercy Thompson, I think the third Alpha and Omega book, Fair Game, is the best Briggs has ever written.
9. Corine Solomon series by Ann Aguirre started as urban fantasy, but Aguirre (brilliant as she is) keeps wandering off into other genres. The second book is actually a small-town horror story, and the fourth flirts heavily with high fantasy. Aguirre is an author who is not too lazy to create a new world for each and every book, which means that, aside from the basic set of rules, you never know what to expect. The series will have five installments; the last one, Agave Kiss, is to be released in April 2013.
8. Charlie Madigan series by Kelly Gay is one of those hidden gems you discover entirely by accident. Like Kate Daniels, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic version of Atlanta and prides itself on detailed worldbuilding. Charlene Elizabeth Madigan is a single mom and a police detective partnered with a male siren, Hank. So far, the series only has three books, but all three are fast-paced, emotional and flawlessly written.
7. Chicagoland Vampires by Chloe Neill used to be one of my top three, but then Chloe Neill made some odd choices in book four, and at least 60% of my enthusiasm was lost. Nevertheless, this series has it all, and I hope Neill will stop creating soap-opera situations and go back to the awesomeness of the first three books. Btw, ladies, we all know why we really read this, and it’s not because of Merit.
6. If I had to use a single word to describe The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, I’d go with ‘intelligent’. The series is about a two-thousand-year old druid, the last druid alive, in fact, and his faithful canine companion Oberon. Thanks to Atticus’s magic, he and Oberon can communicate mentally, and their conversations are often hilarious. Extensive worldbuilding, excellent characterization and superb sense of humor are all present in Hearne’s books. However, as an English professor, sometimes he is unable to stop himself and he goes into lecture mode for just a little too long.
5. Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read. Jones has a way of combining excellent sense of humor and solid plots, which is why I reread her books whenever I need a good laugh. Charley is a private investigator and the grim reaper – she communicates with the dead, but she is also a portal they can use to go into the light. Charley is drawn to the ultimate bad boy (although it’s a bit ridiculous to call him a boy), Alexander Reyes Farrow, but their relationship is anything but simple.
4. Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series has just about every supernatural creature you can think of, but focuses mostly on werewolves. Mercy is not a werewolf herself, she is a Native American shapeshifter, a coyote raised by werewolves. She is also a Volkswagen mechanic, which I find very refreshing. I think my favorite part of this series (aside from the delicious romance), is how much thought Briggs puts in the behavior of her werewolves. For them, body language speaks louder than words and hierarchy is easily established, that is, until a coyote shifter brings total chaos into their ranks.
3. Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane is a series I stayed away from for the longest time. I started the first book a year and a half ago, realized that Chess, the main character, is a drug addict, and abandoned it without a second thought. Fortunately, a good friend pushed me in the right direction and I decided to give the series another chance. (Thanks, Catie, I owe you one!) In a futuristic setting with dystopian elements, organization known as The Church replaced the fallen government. Its main job is to keep the society safe from ghosts, and Chess Putnam works for the Church. Downside Ghosts is all about the characters, and I don’t just mean Chess, Terrible, Lex and others. Downside is a character as well, the entire neighborhood is like a living, breathing thing with a strong personality. So far, the series has five books, and each one is better than the last.
2. Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland is a combination of urban fantasy and police procedurals. Rowland worked in law enforcement for many years and her knowledge and experience clearly show in everything her main character does. Kara is a police detective who secretly summons demons in her basement, and we get to see what happens when her two lives collide. This series also has the only love triangle in the known universe I don’t mind in the least: Kara is torn between a gorgeous, but dangerous demonic lord, Rhyzkahl, and Ryan, the FBI agent with the ability to see the arcane. The only flaw the series has are vicious cliffhangers in the last two books. Everything else is just… brilliant.
1. Kate Daniels series, written by a husband-and-wife writing team Ilona Andrews, has everything I need in Urban Fantasy: detailed worldbuilding, an abundance of mythological creatures, exciting action scenes, wonderful humor, believable romance, and characters I know and love. The story is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic version of Atlanta, where magic and tech can’t coexist, but alternate in waves, and all kinds of magical creatures and deities freely walk the Earth. Kate is the ultimate kick ass heroine: she is strong, she is trained and she has a sharp tongue. Fortunately Curran, the Beast Lord and her mate, understands her need to sleep with a sword under their bed.
And that's it this time!
Because I love you guys, I’m giving you a chance to win the first installment of your choice. The giveaway is, as always, international - anywhere The Book Depository ships. Enter the Rafflecopter below, and if you win, you can choose one of these books: