Tall sharp mountains in the distance, past an inlet
Credit: vinh pham

Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism, and where are all those werewolves coming from?

So, genres. I admit that I find most of what’s currently being called Urban Fantasy (UF) rather repetitive and boring. It’s all werewolves or ‘shifters’ and vampires, and mostly they’re romances. (I’ve nothing against romances – I write and read them.) I just don’t quite see how UF, as it’s being written, isn’t Paranormal Romance (PR).

What bugs me about this is, I guess, that they all seem to be the same romance, the same sort of universe. Where are the interesting backgrounds, the non-traditional takes on all of these fascinating mystical creations? Why are everyone’s vampires all cut from the same cloth? Surely one of them isn’t broody. (I mean, the laws of statistics mean that there must be at least one well-adjusted, happy vampire.)

Also, I have a partially drafted story which a few people have said is UF, but which doesn’t have any werewolves and vampires at all. I have to admit, I was dismayed when they’d said it was UF. I gave it a bit of thought and realized that I’d been thinking it was closer to Magical Realism.

The name Urban Fantasy implies, to me, *fantasy* creatures in urban settings, so Dwarves who live under the subway and Elves who work as forest rangers. Dragons and wyrms are very efficient heating systems for large old apartment buildings in, say, New York, but they’re less common in the West, where they were hunted nearly to extinction because they ate the local cattle. (Obviously, these are not the only ideas one could have – these are just things I’m tossing out off the top of my head. You can do whatever you like with your dragons.)

I looked online – always my first choice, to look up what I’m curious about and learn more – and found the following links. (I apologize to those who haven’t ever seen TV Tropes. You can lose whole days following links around in that huge and fascinating page.)

This is just the surface level of looking at these genres – these are the basic definitions. The links do give some examples of each, which is helpful.