I started reading Urban Fantasy with Charles DeLint. Back in those days, the idea rocked my world. Bringing the magic of fantasy into a modern setting was a mind-boggling new concept. Very few people had done it, and those few hadn’t made much of a ripple. Still, whether by correct timing or brilliant writing, (most likely both) DeLint cracked that barrier open. In fact, he blew it into tiny pieces, and once the idea was out, well, just look what happened.
I can’t explain exactly why the world was ready to let a little magic into their cities, but I can tell you why the genre appealed to me. I suspect the two may cross over a great deal. I came to the genre first as a reader, after all, and back then I never expected to be writing in it.
We journey out of our world into another in traditional fantasy, but with the introduction of the Urban genre, we flip the process. Suddenly, we are bringing the fantastic into our own, know universe. I believe that allows us to embed more fully in the experience. It can feel possible, close to home, almost real.
That’s my theory anyway. When I read about Newport, I could see, hear, and smell the city because I’d actually experienced cities before. So each time I rounded a street corner and ran into a fairy, or entered the subway and interrupted a goblin dance that experience resonated with a touch of the real. It became plausible.
Just thinking about it gives me a little shiver.
And if anyone else has a theory on the popularity of “contemporary fantasy” I’d love to hear it. Let’s compare notes.
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Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction with romantic touches. Her books are published through Mundania Press LLC, Awe-Struck, and Devine Destinies, and her short stories are featured in various anthologies. More information on her worlds and writing can be found on her website and blog, and she offers free online stories, web serials, podcasts there as well.
A Moth in Darkness
The boundaries between the worlds have fallen. Forced to integrate the creatures of fantasy into real life, humanity struggles against its disillusionment, prejudice and an inevitable feeling of inadequacy.
Once an agent for the embassy that mediates between the worlds, Elizabeth Larson has abandoned her past and slipped into a world of nostalgic addiction to fairy revels, dancing, and the dark lure of her own memories. But when Lockland Sheen, her former partner and lover, goes missing, she is pulled reluctantly back into service. She must venture once more across the borders, into the land that haunts her, facing a string of gruesome murders, the imposing Sidhe rulers and her own addiction in the process.
While the Embassy’s agents attempt to soothe tensions between the races, Liz and her new partner search the fairy realm for Lockland. Fighting the constant temptation of the revels, they piece together the trail of an unknown enemy. But the longer they follow it, the more it appears that the man they came to rescue is more villain than victim. And the more they rely on Elizabeth’s ties to the fairies, the closer she inches toward the madness that lurks behind her fantasies.
Something’s rotten in the Fey lands. While Marcus Bramble tracks the lunatic who started it all, Elizabeth and the crew at the Embassy sort through the evidence he left behind. With Lockland back, and the revels behind her, Liz’s world is slowly returning to normal. But on both sides of the borders, shadow creatures spring out of nowhere, and the dark legends surrounding the fey take on a whole new meaning.
Now time is against them. On the mortal side of things, protesters rally to close the borders, politicians descend on the Embassy, and something that shouldn’t exist stalks Elizabeth through the city.
In his world, Marcus faces a madman with answers he doesn’t want to hear. The Fey rulers turn a blind eye on forests teeming with imaginary monsters, and the Sidhe tower stands silent amidst the chaos. Will the race to uncover its secrets solve the mystery of the elves’ past or unleash even more horrors on them all?
The Seelie court is gone, and the Tower has fallen into darker hands. Now nightmare creatures terrorize the Fey races, and the whole Fey world turns to frost and shadow.
Liz Larson holds the last remnant of the Seelie Sidhe's power. The elves look to her for guidance, but all she has to offer them is the disturbing story of their origin, the final truth that will turn many of them against her. With her dwindling number of allies, Liz needs to reopen the borders, to find the missing Marcus Bramble, and to avoid the sudden, terrifiying attention of the new Fey ruler, the Unseelie Speaker and new master of the Sidhe Tower.
While her friends in Mundanity race to pry open the gates, and Marcus searches for the answer to a puzzle that could save or damn them all, the Unseelie Speaker marches north, bringing his army and his wrath to focus on Elizabeth. What can one, fairy-touched human do in the face of the Unseelie court's full fury? How can she fight when the enemy's anger is only partly blind, when she can see all too clearly the traces of justice behind it?