Candy for Your Ears: Urban Fantasy

Me in a leather corset and boots

Urban fantasy audio books are like candy. You can’t consume just one. The first one always leads to the next and the next. It’s the gateway drug of audio books.

They’re the first person shooters of the fantasy genre. What makes these stories so addictive? Let’s toss them onto the operating table and dissect them to see what makes ’em tick.

  1. Most paranormal/urban fantasy stories are written in the first person.
  2. They have punchy writing
  3. They’re short, meaning they run from 6 to thirteen hours with most falling into the the 9-10 hour range. (In print or ebook form, that’s 90,000 to 100,000 words approximately.) Making it easy to listen to one a day.
  4. You can easily find another paranormal/urban fantasy book that is similar in tone, premise and style to get your fix. There are a lot of them out there and more come on sale every day.
  5. They have very strong, likeable leads who have problems and quirky side characters that keep things interesting
  6. They are funny. No really, I’m not kidding. The characters crack jokes at their own and other’s expense often to lighten up the mood.
  7. The main characters get into some truly intriguing problems.
  8. Their authors take the world we live in, aka the real world, and turn on its head in a believable, fun way that is peeled back in layers over successive books.
  9.  They omit a lot. Good examples of this genre leave the reader plenty of lines to read between and just enough hints to fire our imaginations.
  10. They all end in a tenterhook that keeps me waiting for the next book.
  11. They are all performed by truly talented voice actors
  12. It comes in several flavors: wizardly, bloody/horror, gritty/hard-boiled, humorous, etc.

Many of the above points apply to other genres as well but urban fantasy depends on all ten points working well together. Did I miss anything?

How do you like your urban fantasy?

I read a lot. Actually that’s a lie. I listen to a lot of audio books, over 900 in the last 5 years. I’ve sampled a lot of what the urban fantasy genre has to offer and have pulled together a list of my favorites. Whether your looking to start a new series or curious about the genre itself, this list has a little of everything.

If you like your urban fantasy hard-boiled with extra grit:

  1. R. S. Belcher’s Nightwise
  2. Craig Schaefer’s The Long Way down: Daniel Faust, Book 1 
  3. Melanie Karsk’s The Harvesting 
  4. Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim  
  5. Simon R. Green’s Nightside series
  6. Max Berry’s Lexicon
  7. Joseph Naissise’s Jeremiah Hunt series
  8. Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles 

If you like your urban fantasy sunny-side up with a lot of laughs try:

  1. John G. Hartness’ Hard Day’s Knight
  2. Elliot James’ Pax Arcana series
  3. Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles 
  4. Drew Hayes’ The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant
  5. Rachel Aaron’s Heartstrikers series 

If you like your urban fantasy with a dash of wizardly-style, check out:

  1. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files series
  2. Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series

If you’d like a little epic awesomeness with your urban fantasy try:

  1. C.E. Murphy’s The Walker Papers series
  2. Illona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.

If blood, guts and a walk on the horror side of the urban fantasy street gets your heart pumping, check out: 

  1. Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series
  2. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series 

I’ve read and loved all of the above and heartily recommend each and every one. So if you’re looking for some candy for your ears and stress relief for your mind, pick one up today and get listening (or reading).

Have you read any of the above? Did you love ’em or hate ’em? Did I miss an urban fantasy series that you love? If so, please let me know.