Top Five Urban Fantasy Novel Series

Chris Van Deelen

The past two weeks I wrote about the kind of player and GM I don’t want to have anything to do with. I had considered writing up a top five for the types of GM’s that I DO enjoy gaming with, but I think I’ll leave that for next week.

Urban fantasy, in my view, involves a sexy heroine, lots of magic and mythical creatures, set in the modern era. At least that is the way I’ve always seen it. In fact a few years ago the market was absolutely saturated with tons of Urban Fantasy novels and series. I couldn’t walk into my local bookstore to check out the new release shelf without seeing about half the novels on it were devoted to this genre.

It kind of reminded me of the 80’s when men’s adventure novels were all the rage. I still remember an entire section of the bookstores devoted exclusively to these types of books.

With the death of Gold Eagle, those types of novels are now a thing of the past. Is this good or bad? It depends on if you really enjoyed those types of books or not. I will not judge.

Right now the market is saturated with zombie novels, and probably will be for at least a couple more years until the next big thing comes along. Maybe I’ll write up a top five of my favorite zombie novels in an upcoming blog.

Without further ado, here is, in order, my list of my top five urban fantasy series.

  1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – I didn’t get into this series until about the eighth novel. I steadfastly refused to read the books because so many of my friends raved about them. In fact, I would never have read the books unless one of my friends gave me the first novel as a Christmas Gift. From that moment on I was hooked like you wouldn’t believe. Harry Dresden has become my favorite literary hero of all time (closely followed by Joe Ledger and Repairman Jack)!  He is man of incredible conviction and morals who despises bullies of any sort. He is funny and even though he is powerful, he can be hurt - and spends a good portion of each book getting the crap beat out of him. Jim Butcher also brought a great deal of humor to the books, although that has tapered off over the years. The one thing I can say is that I have grown to care deeply about purely fictional characters and the world they inhabit. It’s a shame that the series will eventually come to an end, but between the earth-shattering changes, the amazing characters and the overall plot, I am hooked and will be until the bitter-sweet end.
  2. Monster Hunter International by  Larry Correia Take a tough as nails accountant (yes, you read it correctly) and throw a boss turned werewolf at him and you get Owen Zastava Pitt suddenly discovering the darkness hidden behind the curtain. This series is about a company called, you guessed it, Monster Hunter International. The men and women of MHI are all monster attack survivors who have what it takes to protect the rest of humanity against the things that go bump in the night. That - and the Old Ones.  They make their living off the PUFF bounties paid by the government for killing monsters. This series has a lot of humor and brings a fresh face to the whole Urban Fantasy genre. It has more action than you could hope for in an 80’s men’s adventure novel and a overall endgame in mind as well.  And if this doesn’t get your interest, the series has noble orcs who worship the gods of heavy metal, trailer trash elves, gansta gnomes, and even a dragon who doesn’t threaten you with consumption. No, nothing that crass, he’ll send his lawyers after you instead.
  3. The Hollows by Kim Harrison – This is a series I nearly did not get into. If it was not for the fact that I typically give a series two, maybe three books at the most, I would never have continued to read it. Why? I HATED the first novel!  I thought Rachel Morgan was a simpering, whiny little witch. But I decided to give the series a second chance and found that with the second and third novel it really started to grow on me. It had a strong cast of secondary characters and even though there was a bit of a love triangle, I found I could get into it. Really, that’s what kept me reading – the secondary characters, especially Jenks, her Pixie partner. Some aspects of the series I didn’t care for all that much, like the way shapeshifting was handled, but when it comes down to it, that’s simply nit-picking. It’s a shame the series has now come to a close, as I found I was really enjoying it.
  4. The Iron Druid series by Kevin HearneAh this particular little gem had all the earmarks that I love in a series. Fun characters, lots of humor, gods and magic. The problem that I have with the series is it seems to be overpowered. I mean, really? The main character has killed gods! I know he’s a 2100 year old Irish druid and after all those years of living, you will gain at least a modicum of skill. Still, it is this little fact that has prevented this character from becoming one of my literary heroes. Atticus is fun and well written, but just too damned powerful. Don’t let this dissuade you from reading the books. There are currently seven novels in the series and with the exception of the last book, I have enjoyed them immensely. His last novel, Shattered, failed to enthrall me. It was merely, well, Meh. I think what killed it for me was the way it jumped from point of view to point of view with the three different characters. Still, I will continue to read this series as more novels are written and published.
  5. Shadow Ops by Myke ColeIf you happen to love Urban Fantasy and enjoy military fiction, then this series is perfect for you. It is a world in which magic has re-awakened and many people have discovered they can wield it. The government in its infinite wisdom has declared certain types of magic legal, while other types of magic is illegal and cannot be practiced. Those who do so are hunted down and exterminated. At least that is what the government wants people to believe. Instead they are either killed or drafted into the military. The series contains a lot of action as one would expect and I found that the magic tends to be used more like a superpower. Still, it was an enjoyable read. Originally it was set as a trilogy but the fourth novel has recently been released. I have yet to read it but I plan on doing so over the next few months.

Chris Van Deelen is the author of the Skirmisher Publishing LLC sourcebook Creatures of the Tropical Wastes sourcebook, co-author of its Wisdom from the Wastelands game supplement and contributor to the 'Sword of Kos: Hekaton' Anthology. Check out his Twitter, FaceBook, Pintrest, Reddit and Fan Fiction accounts!