One of the main reasons I read fantasy and paranormal novels is the escape. Not just being drawn into another’s life, but the whole world. Even when it’s a slight shift on our current world, I get the freedom of being someplace new.
Some places I wouldn’t mind visiting—really, I still wish Hogwarts was real. I’d totally score a letter. But let’s be honest, our urban fantasy heroines tend to have it fairly rough. Most of the cities would not make any tourist brochures. In the event you were planning an urban fantasy road trip, here are the five cities to avoid at all costs.
Yes, we have the top five worst urban fantasy locations to live in. Forbes does this based on economics, rights, debt to income ratio and the like. I focus much more on the prevalence of murderous faeries, lack of emergency response units to ritual murders, supernatural political tensions and, of course, general life expectancy.
No. 5: Open Vampire World (mostly in Tulsa, OK) in P.C. and Kristin Cast’s House of Night series
Humans know about vampires in P.C. and Kristin Cast’s House of Night series. When a human is “marked” to become a vampire, a crescent moon tattoo appears on her forehead. In the case of protagonist Zoey Redbird, this happens to her at high school. And everyone knows what it means. She’s going to become a vampire. She’s rushed to Tulsa’s House of Night school where she’ll get a regular education with a heavy dose of preparation for vampire-dom.
Doesn’t sound so bad on its face, until you read about these high school kids using makeup to hide their vampire nature—they aren’t going to be killing anyone—just go to the mall. There’s a self-imposed segregation between the humans and the vampires. While some vampires have human consorts, there’s an epic division and segregation.
Living in the House of Night world one would miss out on half of society as a result of sequestering vampires into estates with high walls. Keeping the humans out and the vampires in.
No. 4: City in Rachel Vincent’s Blood Bound
Mob bosses rule most of city in Rachel Vincent’s Unbound series. There’s no way of underlings turning snitch and taking down the bad guys, because everyone is bound to their mafia kingpin via magic. Tattoos binding their will to his force them to obey, never to turncoat. When magical bonds rule the government, normal citizens have no real control. Calling in the police does little good as so many key players have those nasty ring tattoos sealed with magic binding them to do what’s best for the bad guys. Working around those promises is tricky, and makes a for a great novel. But it’s not particularly safe for mortal tourists.
No. 3: Louisiana Bayou in Stacey Jay’s Dead on the Delta
Turns out the Louisiana Bayou is prime grounds for faeries. Who knew? Other states were lucky to avoid the malicious buggers. One bite drives most people mad, a few more and death comes quickly. A small percentage of humans are immune and are stuck with the job of monitoring the tiny killers. Those who chose not to leave the southern state, stay inside their cities—domed over with iron. The metal keeps the faeries out, but that also means travel from town to town is dangerous and requires special buses encased in iron and a chance at death.
My point? Getting there would be tough enough, but imagine if something as simple as heading an hour away to visit a friend meant a chance at dying by faerie bite. Not worth living on the faerie-infested bayou.
No. 2: The enclave from Ann Aguirre’s Enclave
Sure, living underground with a ton of teenagers sounds fantastic. Wait, no, I could just stop there.
Really, though, things are so dangerous in a post-zombie world that it’s rare for one to live past 25 in the enclave. Kids don’t even receive names until they’re teenagers, when they’re assigned jobs within the community. No choice of profession here. And should that cute boy look at you? Don’t get your hopes up. Unless your job is “breeder” you’re not allowed to even kiss the guy. Brutal.
Add in never seeing sunlight and the constant threat of zombie attack, and there’s little appeal to the enclave. Also, if you came by for a visit, its residents will not welcome you with open arms lest you have known fighting skills and are quick to heel to a hive mind.
No. 1: Downside from Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series
Triumph City has problems, sure, but its Downside neighborhood brings the worst. Drug lords run the streets, peddling sex and narcotics to those seeking escape. Muggings and murders are par for the course. Should your home catch fire, it’s best to grab what possessions you have, because emergency response isn’t coming. They’ve had one too many close calls on the seedy streets in Downside. As the building fires – which are a frequent occurrence – shift to smoldering embers, the community doesn’t help its citizens rebuild, instead looting is encouraged.
Downsiders are forced to rely on the pimps and the pusher for protection, and having an in with the bad guys in charge can make life a whole lot easier. Trust me, it says plenty about Downside Ghosts protagonist Chess Putnam’s neuroses that she chooses to live in the part of town where life and death are ever present and dictated by one’s own devices.
Where urban fantasy city gives you the creeps? Where would you refuse to move?
Also—and I can’t stress this part enough—while I wouldn’t want to live in any of these places, reading about them is fantastic.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.)