Urban Fantasy | Los Angeles Public Library
Print this page

Urban Fantasy

Updated: September 27, 2012

Urban Fantasy is fantasy set in contemporary cities and suburbs, where the mundane realities of city life play against fantastical characters and situations. Many of the traditional elements of fantasy - heroes, monsters, quests - are present, but turned on their heads and reimagined in familiar landscapes.

Block, Francesca Lia.
The story of a group of teenagers who grow up, fall in love, and start a band. This is a book infused with the imagery and rhythms of Southern California and told in a lyrical, breezy style. Many things in this story are recognizable to an Angeleno, but in the narrative they are brightly beautiful and you can always see magic out of the corner of your eye.

Moore, Christopher, 1957-
Calling all hipsters and lovers of bent humor: behold the works of Christopher Moore! His novels include such rubies as The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and You Suck: A Love Story. In A Dirty Job our hero is Charlie, a mild-mannered San Francisco thrift shop owner who discovers he is actually a Death Merchant (someone who retrieves and safeguards the souls of the recently departed) and, quite possibly, the Luminatus who will save humankind from an Underworld uprising. Packed with horny harpies, a pair of genuine hellhounds and a dude named Minty Fresh, A Dirty Job is a fine introduction to the works of this very funny writer.

De Lint, Charles, 1951-
Call Number: Ed.a
Charles De Lint sets many of his books in the fictional town of Newford. Dreams Underfoot is a loosely connected series of stories about Newford and the people who live there, told with mystery, whimsy, and mythology.

Mie?ville, China.
When a giant octopus disappears from its display tank in the British Natural History Museum, the curator in charge of it finds himself on the run from squid cultists and other nasty characters, all while trying to stop the end of the world. The premise is knowingly ridiculous but the characters face it with grim seriousness and a low simmering hysteria.

Griffin, Kate, 1986-
Matthew Swift is awakened after his murder, and discovers he has turned into something strange. Griffin's book explores the idea of cities with particular attention to humanity's attempts to organize and understand urban landscapes.

Gaiman, Neil.
There is a London above - the ordinary everyday London - and a London below, a dangerous place full of strange characters who make their home there. A hapless protagonist finds his way to the London below and quickly gets in over his head trying to be the good guy. It's an adventure story, a quest, and a romance.

Kenyon, Sherrilyn, 1965-
A steamy mix of Greek mythology and vampire lore, Kenyon's Dark Hunter series is a fun and sexy romp that doesn't take itself too seriously!

Kadrey, Richard.
For a different take on Los Angeles urban fantasy, try Sandman Slim, the first in a series of books about a man who escapes from hell seeking revenge and redemption. A dark and gritty vision of the city, and an angry, angry protagonist.

Barlow, Toby.
This novel in verse follows strays and castoffs in East Los Angeles. Groups of feral dogs roaming the streets are actually werewolves fighting each other for dominance, and immersed in crime and violence. Meanwhile a lonely dogcatcher falls in love with a female member of the pack. It's poetry, crimes, the drug trade, romance, and human brutality all at once.

Bull, Emma, 1954-
This classic of the genre is set in Minneapolis, and involves a rock musician fighting mystical fairies. This is, arguably, the book that launched the genre. The details of musicians' lives are thoughtful and realistic, grounding the high fantasy elements in the everyday setting of a musician's Minneapolis.