I had to educate myself on this. For instance, until I read Katiebabs’ WTF post on Laurell K. Hamilton (among other things) I would have cleanly classified Anita Blake as contemporary paranormal romance. If Anita Blake is urban fantasy then so to by deduction must be Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson Series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Which begs the question, when did vampires and werewolves leave their home in Paranormal Land and cross into the Fantasy World? Isn't fantasy populated with witches, magic, dragons, and princes? As Orson Scott Card said (and I’m paraphrasing) if you think trees the story is a fantasy; if you think metal it’s a science fiction… or in this case not-fantasy. I think of vampires and werewolves as claws and teeth, which is probably why I’m so confused. Are you? Let’s figure it out together.
Urban Fantasy Romance Is:
- Fantasy elements (also including paranormal here don’t ask me why) in a people populated setting be it city or town.
- Sure to deal with mystery, suspense, and/or crime.
- Reliant heavily on world-building to make it work. How did these creature rise from obscurity and into the everyday? How do normal humans deal with them?
- A romance, but it doesn't overwhelm the driving plot.
- Usually a series so world-building and romance arcs are sprinkled throughout many books.
- Usually contemporary or modern, but can be set in historical or futuristic settings too.
- Populated with tough kick-ass heroines.
- Never fluffy. It’s gritty, dark, and thrilling.
Urban Fantasy vs Paranormal Romance:
What’s the difference between an urban fantasy and a paranormal written in an urban setting? Please explain! Here’s what I got so far…
- Paranormal romance is usually hero-centric whereas urban fantasy tends to be heroine-centric.
- Paranormal romance is about the hero and heroine’s relationship first and foremost with a HEA (happily ever after). Urban Fantasy romance is about saving the world and finding love while you do it.
Avon executive editor Erika Tsang explains: “In paranormal romance the relationship between the couple is the focus of the main plot. In urban fantasy, the world that the couple exists in is the focus.” Publisher's Weekly
This is why everyone says the two get confused and are used interchangeably. It really is a difference of degrees I feel.
Do you prefer Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance? I am clearly a fan of both even though before I wrote this post I thought I never read an urban fantasy. Give me Edward Cullen and Buffy Summers!
What are some of the other Urban Fantasy Romance series that you enjoy?