Sunday, April 25, 2010

10 Urban Fantasy Authors you may not have heard of...

Today, I thought I'd cover some urban fantasy authors that seem to get buried in the shuffle either because they have smaller publishing houses (my guess) or because of their placement (what's the deal with slapping some in romance?) or their stories are too far off the "norm" (or as norm as you can be with UF).

1. Barbara Bretton - "Casting Spells" and "Laced with Magic". Now, I think her books end up in Romance, because she writes contemporary romance. And, while there is romance in them, I wouldn't categorize them as anything other than UF. Her stories center around a small Vermont town where the residents are anything but human. The main character is owner of a knitting store and a sorceress. There's a love interest (a cop who has no idea what he's dealing with) and a whole bucket load of humor. These are a great read.

2. Rachel Caine - I think she's best known for her teen vampire series, which is good. But her Weather Warden series revolving around Joanne (a warden) and David (a djinn) is phenomenal. I think a lot of people might be put off by the premise - a bunch of gifted people who can control the four elements and use djinn (genies) - the story is incredibly well thought-out & works. Her most recent off-shoot "Undone" and "Unknown" are my favorites. Cassiel is a djinn stripped of her powers and made almost human. Cassiel's POV is brilliant.

3. Angie Fox - "The Accidental Demonslayer" series. Again, its in romance. The main character is a preschool teacher who discovers she comes from a line of witches & she's the chosen to become a demonslayer. She has a talking dog that is crazy funny and a hot griffin boyfriend. The biker witches - her grandmother and a bunch of octagenarians - will have you howling with laughter. Yet the story has a depth of emotion mixed in that is just plain enjoyable.

4. Mario Acevedo - "The Undead Kama-Sutra" (Felix Gomez series). The titles of these books probably put most women off. The images of the original series are definitely geared toward men, too. The main character is Felix Gomez, a vampire. I like them. I think they're smart and interesting.

5. Tate Hallaway - "Tall, Dark & Dead" (Lacie Garnet series). Again with the romance section. This is a story about a witch who is possessed by a goddess. Her entire coven has been slaughtered by vatican assassins and she's in hiding. She falls in love with a vampire (created through alchemy). The story does revolve around their romance, but its so much more than a romance & it has a great sense of humor.

6. M.L.N. Hanover - "Unclean Spirits" (Black Son's Daughter series). This was in the horror section in my bookstore. It is definitely on the darker end of UF, which I happen to love. Vampires, weres & demons are created by 'parasite riders'. In the first book, the main character has just inherited all of her uncle's property. She's a bit of a drifter with a dark past. She discovers she's also inherited her uncle's job - taking care of demons, etc. Its a great story, fast paced with great action scenes and just keeps getting better. (I'm dying for the next in the series to come out.)

7. Erica Hayes - "Shadowfae" and "Shadowglass". A relatively new author. These are sexy stories. Its the story of an incubus and succubus, a chance at humanity, love, and all the unscrupulous characters that stand in their way. I'm not always a big fan of sex in books, but its essential for these books to work. And well done.

8. Mark Henry - "Happy Hour of the Damned" series. I haven't read the entire series yet, tho I do have them in my extensive TBR pile. These are zombie stories and I suppose for some people that might be off-putting (including me). But the author is so damn funny, I bought the books. I enjoyed the first one enough to invest in the rest.

9. Missy Jane - "They Call Me Death". This is a novel about a world changed. Shapeshifters and humans are living separate after an all out war where the population was decimated. The main charater Alexis lost her husband and son & is a kick-ass soldier who's tired of fighting. She meets a shifter who changes everything. An excellent read.

10. Carrie Jones - "Need" "Captivate". This book is in the young adult stacks. It's a wonderful story of a girl's journey as she discovers she's not exactly human and faeries (in this instance, pixies) aren't very nice. It doesn't fall into the standard girl-meets-supernatural boy crap that's out there. I loved it.

(Okay, I'm going over 10, so sue me)

11. Anna Katherine - "Salt and Silver". This was a very different story about a girl who lives & works in a diner where she & her friends opened a doorway to hell. A demon slayer shows up & moves into the basement to guard the door. Romance & mayhem ensue. It was unexpectedly entertaining with a fast paced and touching story.

12. Jackie Kessler - "Hell's Belles" series. Okay, these books ooze with sex. Jezebel is a succubus who flees from hell and is on the run. She meets a nice guy and falls in love. The story is clever, funny, heart wrenching and heart warming. I loved it.

13. J.F. Lewis - "Staked" "ReVamped" (Void City series). The vampire in this series ought to be totally unlikeable - he's kind of an ass - but I loved him. He runs a strip club, has a newly turned girlfriend he treats like crap, a daughter who is totally insane & sociopathic, a vampire car. There's some serious grossness in this. But it all just works.

14. C.E. Murphy - "Urban Shaman" Joanne Walker series. Joanne is a shaman just learning what she is. Her father is native american, her mother was irish. She has a tragic past & in the first book works as a mechanic for the police. The story is carefully woven and you can't help but love the characters from Billy, the cross dressing cop to Gary, a cab driver in his sixties who becomes her champion and friend.

15. Justine Musk - "Blood Angel" "Lord of Bones". Very very dark urban fantasy. Its a story of angels and demons that haunted me. I wish she'd write more.

16. Adrian Phoenix - "A Rush of Wings" Dante Baptiste series. This is by far my favorite series. Dante is the son of Lucian, an angel and a vampire. He's sexy, cajun and tortured. Heather is an FBI agent investigating a serial killer. She ends up in his club, and with him. I don't want to give anything away, but if Dante were real, I would totally be his groupie. Dark, haunting story of love and hope against overwhelming odds.

17. Eileen Rendahl "Don't Kill the Messenger". Terrific story of Melina, who because she drowned at 4 & brought back is changed - and is now a messenger for vampires and othersupernatural creatures. There's a couple of love/lust interests and a whole lot of action as she investigates things she probably shouldn't. I'm looking forward to more of these characters.

18. Margaret Ronald "Spiral Hunt" "Wild Hunt" - The story of Evie, a bike messenger who is also a Hound (think Wild Hunt). She finds things as a side job, which tends to get her mixed up in some bad-ass stuff. Good action, fast-paced and enjoyable.

19. Cynthia Leitich Smith "Tantalize" "Eternal" These are found in the young adult shelves. The first is a love story of a vampire & a werewolf. The second, a vampire & an angel. If you're looking for happy, feel-good endings, these aren't for you. They're filled with angst & emotion. I'm anxiously awaiting the third book, which is supposed to tie the two stories together.

20. Thomas E. Sniegoski "A Kiss Before the Apocalypse" series. I honestly didn't expect to like these. The first book started slow, but it quickly became a book I couldn't put down. Remy is a fallen angel who has taken on a mantle of humanity. He is mourning his dead wife. It's a great series.

21. Rob Thurman "Nightlife" series. This series is fantastic. Cal & Niko are brothers. Cal is half auphe (think really really bad demon). Niko is his protector, mother, father & teacher all rolled into one. This is a story of love - not romantic love, but the love that binds us to people we call family. There's lots of action, some seriously funny snark & great emotion. There is nothing that Cal & Niko won't do for each other, no matter how horrific it is. I'd buy these to give as gifts (and have). An absolute must read.

22. Phaedra Weldon "Wraith" "Spectre" "Phantasm" This a good, solid series of Zoe, a woman who can walk between astral planes.

Yikes, I went way way over!! Now I have to go make dinner. Crap.

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