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Just one paranormal romance or urban fantasy.... - Input Junkie
May 18th, 2010
08:20 am

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Just one paranormal romance or urban fantasy....
One of my friends has asked which PR or UF he should read if he's just going to read one.

I'm so overloaded on the genre that I don't have a recommendation, so I'm asking you guys.

Please let me know why you're recommending a book-- your favorite? Most typical? Acclaimed as best? Other?

If you pick up this question to ask in your own lj, could you let me know?

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From:tod_hollykim
Date:May 18th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
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Anything by Charles de Lint in the UF selection.
From:bruce9999999
Date:May 18th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)

The Dracula Tapes, or any sequel

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But The Last Hot Time is good too.

On the other hand, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance tends to mean Nora Roberts, who I've never read, or Anita Blake ditto. So why not try those?
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From:rysmiel
Date:May 18th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
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I would say Mike Carey's The Devil You Know for urban fantasy, though paranormal romance it definitely is not.
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From:redaxe
Date:May 18th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
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For UF, anything by Charles De Lint, of course (I suggest one of the earlier collections of Newford stories as a good starting point) (because these define the genre), or the October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire (there are now two, with the third due late 2010 or 2011; I forget, exactly) (these are mysteries, as well; they excel at characterization and at providing the feel of a world simultaneously inhabited by and coeval with Faerie).

Edited at 2010-05-18 02:42 pm (UTC)
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From:lysystratae
Date:May 20th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
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Since I was going to suggest the October Daye novels as well, I second this recommendation :)
From:henrytroup
Date:May 18th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
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I'd pick The War for the Oaks myself. The rule of engagement are clear, the dramatis personae are somewhat familiar (a couple of them are in Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night's Dream, after all), and the story is good and fun.
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From:theweaselking
Date:May 18th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
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Jim Butcher, "The Dresden Files". If you're only allowed one book... start with book 4, "Summer Knight"

They're fun, clever, quick reads, and fluffy.
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From:sterlingspider
Date:May 18th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Agreed, that series is SO much fun.

Though I think I might actually vote Dead Beat. I don't know that it's necessarily stand alone, but the awesomeness of the awesome part of that book is just so freaking awesome.
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From:theweaselking
Date:May 20th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
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While Dead Beat is a great book, I think too much of it depends on the rest of the series. It doesn't stand alone all that well.

Whereas Summer Knight stands alone reasonably, comes before most of the super-huge-mega-plot stuffs, and is significantly better-written than the first three.
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From:agrumer
Date:May 18th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
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The more I think about it, the more distressing that question is.

If your friend has never read any paranormal romance or urban fantasy before, then he or she is basically asking you to pick a single book that represents a whole wide range of books.

But could any range of books that could be effectively represented by a single book be worth reading?

And then there's the matter of what your friend means by "urban fantasy"; I think that label's on its third meaning.
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From:kgbooklog
Date:May 18th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
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then he or she is basically asking you to pick a single book that represents a whole wide range of books.

No, s/he is asking for a book that represents two wide ranges of books. The dividing line falls between Patricia Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series and her Alpha and Omega series.
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From:heron61
Date:May 18th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
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Agreed.
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From:agrumer
Date:May 19th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
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I haven't read any of those, so I'll defer to your judgment. My impression had been that "urban fantasy" had started, in recent years, to overlap with "paranormal romance".

I'm told that originally, "urban fantasy" referred to stuff like Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar stories.
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From:nellorat
Date:May 18th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
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I'd say the choice of urban fantasy depends a lot on what he likes in other books. Our Lady of Darkness is one of the best, and good if he likes more oblique writing.
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From:gildedacorn
Date:May 18th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
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I believe I know what a paranormal romance is, but "urban fantasy" is less clear. If it means a fantasy that's set, not in a fictional "fantasy" world but in a real-world urban setting, then I recommend "So You Want To Be A Wizard" by Diane Duane. (Technically some of it takes place in an "elsewhere" version of a real-world urban setting, but you'll see what I mean.)



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From:heron61
Date:May 18th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
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There's a lot to be said for Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which uses a bunch of the standard PR tropes, but actually makes them interesting and crafts a world around them.

If you want something more old school and more on the order of UF than PR, then the two good choices are Bull's War For the Oaks or maybe Megan Lindholm's Wizard of the Pigeons. However, I'd say that these belong to a very different genre from PR.
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From:bradhicks
Date:May 18th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
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Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is the one I was going to nominate, too. I love that book so much that I've read a ton of entirely forgettable crap urban fantasies trying to find another one even half as good, and haven't found one yet.
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From:nancylebov
Date:May 18th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Have you read any Diane Duane? She doesn't exactly do urban fantasy, but (especially in her earlier books) there's something of a similar feel. It's hard to put a finger on, but there's a sense of thriving being good and possible.
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From:bradhicks
Date:May 18th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, most recently Stealing the Elf-King's Roses, which basically totally didn't work for me. Loved Book of Night with Moon, less crazy about the sequel; thought So You Want to Be a Wizard was okay, even less happy with its sequels. To my taste, none of them can hold a candle, either in how they handle Faerie nor in how they handle urban reality, to War for the Oaks.

I do go back to the Borderlands anthologies from time to time. I liked the inter-textual "notes" even more than I liked the stories in Windling's The Essential Bordertown anthology.
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From:dr_zrfq
Date:May 18th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
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There are multiple types of paranormal romance -- two or three broad categories. There are even more types of urban fantasy.

I haven't read too many PR books so don't have much info to base an opinion on there.

For UF it can depend on what sort of book the reader likes *without* the fantasy element. Seanan McGuire's October Daye series, already mentioned, is great for the noir side of things. Rosemary and Rue, the first Toby book, is a good hard-boiled detective story mixed in with the urban fantasy elements: it never occurred to me until this book how well suited the two genres are for each other. The second book, A Local Habitation, brings a noir action-adventure story into the setting and works just as well.

I might get pillaged for suggesting some of the Mercedes Lackey/Larry Dixon "Diana Tregarde / SERRAted Edge / Eric Banyon" universe series (by multiple authors, not just ML and LD) but I enjoyed many of them. (Born to Run was particularly liked by my friends who are serious auto racing fans.) If one's going to read only one UF book, though, I would go with McGuire or Charles de Lint (as also suggested above).
From:kleew
Date:May 18th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)

best urban fantasy

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For dark urban fantasy - Adrian Phoenix "A Rush of Wings" series. About angels & vampires OR Rob Thurman "Madhouse" series (Cal Leandros)

For romance/sex mixed in - Richelle Mead's "Succubus Blues" series OR Jackie Kessler's "Hell's Belles" series

For straight up strong women urban fantasy - Kim Harrison's "Dead Witch Walking" series OR Karen Marie Moning's "Darkfever" series

For male lead series - Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series OR (again) Rob Thurman's series.

For best new authors - Jennifer Estep, Kelly Meding, Chloe Neill (all write strong female lead - Estep & Meding are a little darker than Neill)

These are the best of the best
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From:vr_trakowski
Date:May 18th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
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Pamela Dean's Tam Lin. :D
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From:kgbooklog
Date:May 19th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
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One of my friends has asked which PR or UF he should read if he's just going to read one.

We need more information here. Is he looking for "most typical" (Twilight), "most snarky" (Jim Butcher's Grave Peril), "fast and fun" (Liz Williams' Snake Agent), "most original" (F. Paul Wilson's The Tomb), "most allegorical" (Kit Whitfield's Benighted), "most sex" (Keri Arthur's Full Moon Rising), or "most cats" (Diane Duane's Book of Night with Moon)? I recommend all of these except Twilight, which I've been carefully avoiding.
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From:radiotelescope
Date:May 21st, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
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One of is a fan of *particular* urban areas, I have been recommending _A Madness of Angels_ (Kate Griffin), which is set in London, and _Spiral Hunt_ (Margaret Ronald) which is in Boston.

(But not _Tinker_, which I wanted to like because it is by Wen Spencer and set in Pittsburgh... but I didn't.)
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From:nancylebov
Date:May 22nd, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)
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Have you read Kara Dalkey's Steel Rose? It's a very good urban fantasy set in Pittsburgh.
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