One of the trends in urban fantasy and paranormal romance about which I am most excited is the inclusion of musicians and music into the stories. It adds a bit of realism to the story, anchoring it to a real-life context, not to mention exposes the reader to new sounds and ideas. As a person coming from the music industry who now works in the book industry, it’s cool to see my worlds collide. Here are some of my favorites.
One of the first series I remember seeing musicians in was Charles de Lint’s Newford stories featuring Jilly Coppercorn. Jilly’s best friend was a fiddler named Geordie Riddell, who often aided Jilly in her schemes to save someone or to aid the fae. Geordie was married to Melanie, a harpist and healer. Melanie often used music and magic together to help make “something” happen. These books encouraged people to check out local folk music and, traditional Celtic music, along with some really magical stories. He is the “father” of urban fantasy.
Jeri Smith-Ready’s vampire DJs of her WVMP series conjure the same feeling: Each vamp DJ is stuck in an era of music and when they DJ, they tell a fantastic story of the music’s time. By making the setting a radio station, Smith-Ready adds a bit of real life to her monsters. We all know of and can relate to listening to the radio. Ready gets the music industry and portrays it clearly. I read some of her books while still working on the road, and felt right at home with Shane McAllister and company. This series is a must-read for music lovers.
Joe Hill gives us musician Judas Coyne in his frightening horror/urban fantasy book Heart-Shaped Box. Coyne is a retired successful metal musician with a penchant for collecting “oddities.” When he buys and receives a special box, all hell breaks loose. This book is freaky tense, and scary. Hill doesn’t hide his love for music which is peppered throughout the pages. A different kind of book, but the ending doesn’t disappoint!
Allison Pang’s heroine Abby Sinclair has a best friend Melanie, who is also a musician. As a fiddler, she uses music to open up the cross roads so that she and Abby can travel to the other side. Pang also brings an element of current music into her books by occasionally having Melanie play a popular song, to add a bit of humor. Start with A Brush of Darkness.
In Nerine Dorman’s What Sweet Music They Make, violinist Tersia catches the eye of young vampire Severin. Their love story revolves around her musical talent. Dorman evokes the swelling melodies of classical music in this tale of bittersweet love. Her visuals and world building are sweeping word landscapes which are not to be missed. It doesn’t matter if you are not familiar with the violin or classical music, this story will appeal to everyone, but to music lovers it adds a special element.
One of my personal musician favorites is Jaye Wells’s crazy pervert industrial musician, Erron Zorn, from the Sabina Kane series. He is combination of many current musicians, and he and his band Necrospank 5000 add an element of snark and magic. Wells shows us her love of music in an undiluted and humorous way.
This August, Carrie Clevenger will release Crooked Fang, whose main character Xan Marcelles is a bassist for the band Crooked Fang—and oh yeah, he’s also vampire. Unlike some vampires, Xan doesn’t have magic powers, nor does he live in a palatial estate with fancy computers or cars. He is a regular guy who still manages to get into his share of trouble.
Do you have a favorite book featuring musicians and music?
When she’s not herding cats or creating art, she works as a part-time bookseller. You can find her on twitter as @psynde.