I’ve been asked here and there what various urban fantasy I’ve been reading, and what I’d recommend out of the pack that others might enjoy as well. I seem to have a set of adult fantasy series that I read as well as a set of young adult book series that I read, so I’ll try to split this in half to make it semi manageable for those playing the home game. I also added a link up top to an Amazon affiliate store with the books I’m about to mention in it to try to make your life simpler. If you’d like to continue feeding my reading habit, please feel free to buy from there to fuel the Kindle machine.
I start this list with a caveat that most of the urban fantasy I read lately seems to involve vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, magic or other such insanity. A lot of what I read also tends to be multi-book series because I read very fast, or as my friends politely put it I eat books, so series work very well for me. You’ve been warned.
Warrior and Witch by Marie Brennan
This two book series follows Miryo, a witch who finds out she has a doppelganger who was not killed at birth like the other witches. In order for her to become a full witch, she is told that she must kill this doppelganger, a bounty hunter named Mirage. It’s a compact and interesting series with writing that really keeps you reading because you want to know what happens next. This isn’t really urban fantasy, mostly just fantasy, but I felt it deserved a mention none the less.
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
Apparently the beginning of a new series with heroine Alex Craft, a poor private investigator who is also a Grave Witch. She gains notoriety by being the first person to raise a shade to testify in a murder case, and by discovering a murder of a local official involves a magic that is slowly killing her. The little additions this series bring are a friendly relationship between Alex and Death, who she bribes in a most amusing way and is smoking hot, as well as grave sight which juxtaposes the world of the dead on ours with vivid descriptions. It’s a good paced paranormal murder mystery with a feisty heroine.
The Shifters series by Rachel Vincent
(Book 1 in the six book series is Stray.)
Faythe Sanders is a Texas grad student with a big hairy secret, she can turn into a werecat. After being attacked while at school by a stray, a werecat with no ties, she is forced to return to her family’s compound kicking and screaming. What makes this series frustrating is that Faythe never learns from her mistakes of being too stubborn and generally obtuse to the political fallout she stirs up by acting like a spoiled little princess. Her on again off again boyfriend Marc has a real jealousy issue that is borderline abusive at times. The concept itself isn’t a bad one, however I frequently wanted to throw the book into a wall, or Faythe’s thick skull, because of the sheer idiocy of the characters’ actions.
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
(Book 1 in this ongoing series is Moon Called.)
Mercy Thompson is a mechanic by day, but by no means lives a normal life. Her boss is a gremlin. Her next door neighbor is the alpha of the local werewolf pack. She fixes cars for vampires. However, she’s not exactly normal herself being a shifter who changes into a coyote at will courtesy of her Native American heritage. The first book has a lot of interesting plot twists and character development, which continues down the road with even more mysteries and complex issues in the world developed in great detail by the author. Mercy is an awesome heroine, and while there are a bevy of support characters, you don’t get lost or confused with them. An amazing series.
Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs
(Book 1 is Cry Wolf, book 2 is Hunting Ground.)
Set in the same universe as the Mercy Thompson series, this follows the struggle that Anna has after being attacked by a werewolf and turning into a werewolf against her will. She learns to cope with pack life, without knowing that she is an Omega wolf, incredibly rare and valuable to a pack. It expands more on the werewolf society that is talked about in the Mercy Thompson series. These books stand on their own and continue to have more of the excellent components of Briggs’ writing style.
The Hollows series by Kim Harrison
(Book 1 is Dead Witch Walking, the series is ongoing.)
This series follows the mishaps of witch Rachel Morgan who lives in The Hollows, in Cincinnati of all places. Rachel is a bounty hunter who was formerly with the law enforcement agency, named Inderland Security, that makes sure that vampires, witches and all things supernatural behave. Her partner, a living vampire named Ivy, and Rachel leave that agency to strike out on their own, a feat that is unheard of. Rachel herself is a witch, and together they try to take out a drug dealer, dealing a deadly drug called Brimstone, in order to get out of the line of fire from I.S. I love in this series how exactly humanity becomes aware of the existence of all things supernatural, it made me laugh out loud. Rachel as a main character leaves a bit to be desired, as with a previous comment, frustratingly not learning from her mistakes. Her relationships with others, particularly her partners Ivy and Jenks, leave a bit to be desired as well. Overall, I’d recommend the series.
The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
(Book 1 is Halfway to the Grave in this ongoing series.)
Half vampire Cat Crawfield starts out following along with her mother’s rabid hatred of vampires and going to local bars to lure them out to kill them. Eventually she takes on more than she can chew with Bones, a very old vampire, who decides to train her to make her useful to him, primarily as bait. The series goes from there, falling in to a lot of odd twists and turns. Some parts are mildly irksome, like Cat’s inability to trust people to help her, but overall the series is a good read. There are a few other books set in this universe called First Drop of Crimson and Eternal Kiss of Darkness which follows stories of a couple of supporting characters which are also written in this same awesome style. I’d recommend checking those out as well.
The Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill
(Book 1 is Some Girls Bite with the fourth book in the series due out May 2011.)
Grad student Merrit was living a normal life until the Chicago vampires decided to reveal themselves to the world. Shortly after that, she is attacked by a rogue vampire on campus and her entire world as she knows it is destroyed. She can no longer be a student and owes her fealty to Ethan Sullivan, the master vampire who turned her to save her life. The book goes in a lot of interesting ways and have political subplots as well as requiring Merrit to figure out exactly why rogue vampires are attacking and who her real enemies are. Merrit as a character is a bit of a smartass, and quickly has to learn how to be handy with a sword. Watching her relationships adjust as a result of becoming a vampire makes you wonder what would happen if something this huge happened to you. I enjoy the characters and the pacing very much with this author, and can easily recommend these books.
The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep
(Book 1 is Spider’s Bite.)
This series follows “The Spider,” also known as Gin Blanco, an assassin with ties to a barbecue joint in Ashland. The owner of this restaurant, also her handler and assassin mentor, is killed in the first book, and she sets herself on the task of finding his murderer. This series has a bit of everything, weather witches, vampires, giants, dwarves, but I found myself forcing myself to finish this book. It didn’t really do anything to hook me. There is a lot of violence and a very high body count in this series. I do have the second and third books, but I just haven’t had the heart to try to read them yet. Considering I’ll read just about anything, that probably speaks volumes.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
I know I know, it’s written by the same person who wrote the Twilight books. However, this is aimed at adults and has a very interested and complicated plot line that is very gripping. There is a planet hopping parasitic species that has come to Earth, where a well known one named Wanderer is put in the body of unwilling host Melanie Stryder. Melanie won’t go away like other hosts, and Wanderer starts listening to the things she has to say, leading her far astray from the parasitic mind set and culture. A great one off book read.
The Midnight Guardian by Sarah Jane Stratford
The concept of this book seems amusing enough, vampires trying to subvert the plans of Nazi Germany. Why? Because war brings down their food supply. It sounds like a good enough formula, but continuous digressions into the main character Brigit’s past, coupled with random flashbacks to their lovers left behind in England, really make this book tedious to read. The characters are unsympathetic and overall I was rooting for the Nazis. I didn’t even finish this book, it was that bad.
There will be more to come, I have another 30 or 40 books on my kindle at the moment, and these are just the ones I had physical copies I could snatch from my bookshelf of.