Sat
Jan 19 2013 11:00am

Unusual Urban Fantasy: Painter, Bennett, and Bonilla

Blood Rights by Kristen PainterThe trend tides are changing. It happens constantly. Right now headlines proclaim the birth of New Adult, the death of vampires (heh) and the love/hate relationship readers have with bossy billionaires.

What no one is talking about in these sweeping “here’s what people like now” discussions is what happens when a genre grows so quickly as to confuse readers. This could apply really anywhere, but right now I’m watching my beloved urban fantasy subset become a pitted minefield of tropes, far-reaching limits and wary new readers.

As the genre defined by a city backdrop so vibrant to act as a character itself took hold with readers, we got more and more fantasy novels starring bold, strong women and alternative histories. It made many a female fantasy reader happy to finally have a female protagonist who was independent and didn’t let the romance element of the book overwhelm her.

Publishers started gobbling up these books, which for long-time “low” fantasy readers was a mega win. Unfortunately, the genre has grown so much we now face the same big problem of all other fiction: formulas. We have heroines with the same backstories (outcast from their species, orphaned, crippled by their supernatural gifts) meeting the same types of Big Bads.

Does this mean there aren’t great urban fantasy titles still out there?  Of course not. For every twenty pretty-but-doesn’t-know it protagonist fighting murderous supernatural type, we get something fresh and brilliant.

Don’t give up on urban fantasy. Just trust Team H&H to help you find the books that bring something new to the table. Here are three urban fantasy books that don’t read like the same old thing (and have the elements romance readers want).

1. Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Kristen Painter knows how to write vampires. She knows how to make them scary and she knows how to make them sexy. She’s done something new with her House of Comarré series, though, and brought in a new species. She has a special type of human that produces the kind of blood to sate a vampire—and she overproduces, so she has to do something with it. But more than that, she’s a warrior who had no intention of accepting orders from anyone. Blood Rights packs the independent spirit needed in a good urban fantasy and does it brilliantly with engaging, if polarizing, characters and oodles of sexual tension.

Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett2. Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett gives us a different type of heroine in her Arcadia Bell series. Cady is strong, absolutely, but she’s more lighthearted than most of the gun-wielding badasses we find in traditional urban fantasy. Unique twists on demons and magic help elevate Kindling the Moon to your to-read pile. Bonus: Single-dad romantic interest.

3. Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla

What makes Amanda Bonilla’s heroine Darian so great is her focus. While she has a lot of introspection as she learns to interact with others of her kind—she’s a shaede that can disappear into the shadows—she’s also fiercely independent. This is a heroine who has to get used to accepting help and is damn good at saying no. She doesn’t take to bullying and her fierceness ripples the pages. Her love life is complicated, but when it comes to unpredictable plots, Bonilla doesn’t disappoint.

What urban fantasy is intriguing you now?

 


While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.

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14 comments
jeanna collins
1. jeanna collins
I do not think camps will ever be killed off just modified. As with dagger, breed, and even guardian by Laurie London. They are changing and will continue to change. Keri Arthur has came up with many different creatures, but the sexy vamp is always in the background ready to pounce.
Lege Artis
2. LegeArtis
I seam to be lonely in this, but Shaedes of Grey was DNF for me... Maybe I should give it a second chance....
I'm always interested in new UF, and beside "usual suspects" I'm devouring and rereading like Briggs or Ilona Andrews, these ones intrigued me enough to stuck in my mind:
1. Diana Rowland did something new with her Kara Gillian series.Book #5 brought whole series to completely new level. I loved demon world.
2. The St. Croix Chronicles by Karina Cooper- This is steampunk. I wasn't so invested after reading first book , but Gilded, book #2, was awesome and it has great twist that sold me completely for this series.
1.Blood Shadows by Lindsay J Pryor- This one has more PNR feel, but world building, grittines an action made it worth mentioning. It's first one in series called Blackthorne and yes, there are vampires. Main hero is Kane, a very very bad vampire. And you know what's best? He stays that way. As one reviewer so perfectly said: "Kane keeps his edges so sharp they are lethal.."
Jordan R
3. jrojrojro
One of the things that bugs me the most about newer UF is the love-triangle/love-quadrilateral/etc. I don't expect a romance-novel-type relationship, but the constant partner switching/who should I choose gets on my nerves. The Triangle isn't always an automatic turnoff, but often it seems like it continues on just to add drama to the story and keep the reader coming for the next book. I think the Mercy books did this really well - there was some relationship uncertainty, but it didn't take over the story and resolved in a realistic time period.
jeanna collins
4. huntece
Right now Darynda Jones 's Grim Reaper series is definetly my fav urban fantasy. Cant wait for the next in the series. Its one of the best humour based fantasy series Ive ever read but it also incorporates serious wthin the humour. Its definetly a bit of a twist on the psychic and ghosts idea.
Pamela Atkins
5. PamsaRN
I LOVE finding a new author that just snags my attention from the beginning and has me hoping that the next book in the series is already out! For me it's like Christmas morning. Recently, I have found several new authors that have truly shocked me with humor, suspence, melt worthy romance and great world building. I am involved with a couple book clubs on line and my Kindle always has 2 or 3 books waiting to be read. The first author I HIGHLY recommend is Alisha Basso she has two books in The Grace Allen series. Book one is This Blood and I rated it 5 out of 5 stars which is rare. Book 2 "This Curse" was even better. If you like your heroines funny with their thoughts that noone hears (but you yourself would be thinking the same thing) and witty with thier mouthes as well you will enjoy this.....Grace reminds me of Sookie but, funnier and more powerful. The romance is wonderful along with a rock solid storyline. ***** 5 stars.
The next new author is Amy Baritol (The Premonition Series). What can I say except WOW! Great imagination, romance that is swoon worthy, and a heroine that has truly grown from her mistakes and developed into a stronger woman through the life lessons that occur in the books.Book one is Inescapable ,Intuition, Indepted, and Incendiary is latest book. She is currently working on the 5th book and I can' wait...
Next would be Caroline Hanson (Valerie Dearborn series). I was thrown off by the title of the first novel at first and kind of set aside.The three books so far are Love is Darkness,Love is Fear,and Love is Mortal. Boy, was I kicking myself once I read it. Again strong heroine that is smart, loving, witty, and no doormat. I personally am so tired of heroines who find their true love, fight with them the whole book, and the last 10 pages make up and confess love....if I have my way I will never read a book with this formula ever again. These authors are a breath or fresh air and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
One more author that I adore but, is more well known is H.P. Mallory. She has 2 series out (Jolie Wilkins and Dulcie O'Neill series). They are wonderful. A ticket on a first class trip from our daily stress! I hope these suggestions help in that journey. Your reading pal, Pam
jeanna collins
8. Spritemystic
I enjoy Kim Harrison's Hollows series and Adrian Phoenix The Makers Song series as well.
Michelle Palmer
9. ChelleP
The best UF books I read this year are the Blood Bound series from Rachel Vincent and Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between(Rhiannon's Law #1)by J.A. Saare.

The intrique of the gangster world building that Vincent does is amazing.

And although the Rhiannon's Law books by Saare have vampires (which I am totally OVER), it also has a cool necromancer and time travel. I can't wait for her 4th book!

Also, Cassie Alexander is another new UF author I've read and loved.

Lastly, Karina Halle (self-published?) writes the Experiment in Terror series, which I guess is more of PRN, but it is incredible. I read all 5 books in 3 days. The first book takes a while to get going, but half way in and I was hooked. The storyline is fresh and the heroine is one of my favorites. Plus, the first one is FREE. ;)
Megan Frampton
10. MFrampton
@ChelleP I LOVED the Blood Bound series, too. Chelsea originally recommended it to me, and she was so right. I know she likes the Cassie Alexander, too. I haven't read the Saare myself, but should, huh?
Chelsea Mueller
11. ChelseaMueller
@ChelleP - Megan is right. I'm a big fan of those series. You have excellent taste. :D
jeanna collins
12. Ashes
Ilona Andrews - two great series.
Laurell k hamilton - a fey series & a vampire hunter series.
Cat Adams - blood siren series
michelle sagara - cast series
Lora leigh - so many amazing reads
Jory strong - post apocalyptic
Michelle Palmer
13. ChelleP
@Megan, Saare is very good. I'm way over vampires, but Disco (hero) rocks my world. Blondes do it for me everytime. :)

Also, in the second book there's this awesome f/f fight scene that Saare describes. It's mean, dirty, action-packed, and memorable.

@Chelsea, Thanks! :D I am looking for a new series to start. Since we have similar tastes, do you have any recs?
jeanna collins
14. Ashes
Patricia Briggs
diana Rowland
Juliana Stone
Nalini Singh - angel series that has nothing angelic about it
Kresley cole
Gena Showalte
Rachel vincent
yasemin galorne
Kelley Armstrong
Pamela Palmer
Emily Peros
15. emilyperos
Faith Hunter
Patricia Briggs
Nicole Peeler
Chloe Neill
R.L. LaFevers (YA Series His Grave Mercy [it is FANTASTIC])
Ilona Andrews
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