Tag Archives: urban fantasy

LGBTQ Urban Fantasy Series: The Sleepless City and Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator

2 Sep

Here are two compelling series with LGBTQ characters that will appeal to fans of Tanya Huff’s Smoke Trilogy, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, or Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series.  Since they are both available as ebooks they are just a click away for our Hoboken Library Resident Cardholders.  So check them out now for an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend read or put them on your wish list for October when Halloween and Coming Out Day (October 11) make it the perfect time to read about some out and proud Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches.

The Sleepless City by Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble

The Sleepless City is a gay paranormal romance series, written by Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble, available to our resident Hoboken Library cardholders through eLibraryNJ.  The series revolves around several roommates and friends, some of whom are vampires.  In the mythology of The Sleepless City vampires have one true soulmate, but just because someone is your soulmate doesn’t mean there is an instant happily ever after and as each of the vampire main characters of the book finds their romantic partner they must navigate relationship issues as well as some suspenseful supernatural dilemmas.  Much like the Hellmouth in Buffy the Vampire series, there is a lot of mystical trouble in the small town of Flint, Ohio.  Besides vampires Jonas, Declan, and Simon, aficionados of werewolves will enjoy the character of Lucas Coate.  I’m usually more a vampire fan myself, but I found Lucas to be one of my favorite characters from the series.

Rather than co-write each book, the authors alternated books in the series.  Barwell wrote the first book Shades of Sepia and the third book Family and Reflection.  Noble wrote the second book Electric Candle and the soon to be released fourth and final book tentatively titled Checkmate.  I was unsure if the series might feel disjointed by having two authors, but I found it had the beneficial effect that their slightly different styles helped delineate the different characters they were focusing on.  If you become a fan of the series you might find yourself wanting to binge read to find out what happens next to the well written and interesting characters.  Although The Sleepless City series ends after book four, the authors will each be working on two separate spinoff series.  The Sleepless City is published by Dreamspinner Press, who specializes in Gay romance titles, some of which are also available to our Hoboken Library Resident Cardholders through eLibraryNJ.

Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator by Alexis Hall

There are two books so far in Alexis Hall’s Kate Kane lesbian urban fantasy mystery series including Iron & Velvet and Shadows & Dreams.  A third book Fire & Water is planned.  I found myself so immersed in the world of the first book Iron & Velvet that I finished it in two days.  Kate Kane is a terrific character, a half fairy private eye with a biting wit who tries to fight against letting her powers derived from her mother, The Queen of the Wild Hunt, take over her life.  There are so many other wonderful characters in the world including Julian Saint-Germain, an eight hundred year old lesbian vampire prince; Tara Vane-Tempest, the upper class model who is also an alpha werewolf; Nimue, Kate’s ex and a Witch Queen; her assistant Elise, a golem-like “living statue;” and informant Jack who is a part of “the Multitude,” a gestalt mind made up of rats!  Although cleverly original, the book also satirizes some tropes of both the noir mystery and the urban fantasy genre.  Kate has a vampire ex who she met in high school biology class who creepily liked to watch her sleep, is overprotective, and bears other traits that seem reminiscent of a certain sparkly vampire.  LGBTQ publishers Riptide Publishing also have several other series by Alexis Hall including Prosperity, a steampunk series, which is available through Hoopla.  Some of Riptide’s other books are also available there and on eLibraryNJ.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Humor with Bite: Housewitch, Mermaids in Paradise, and The Grendel Affair

8 Jul

The following stories all have varying elements of urban fantasy and wit including a satire of mean moms who are real witches, a honeymoon hijacked by tropical mermaids that slyly harpoons the American dream, and the slapstick humor of monster hunters who find out that an epic literary legend is real.

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet

Mermaids in Paradise by Pulitzer finalist Lydia Millet defies easy classification.  The mermaids of the title make a splash briefly, but the existence of the supernatural is more a trigger for the novel’s drama than a focus as in a typical Urban Fantasy genre work (for that you can check out Mary Janice Davidson’s Fred the Mermaid series).  Also added to the mix is mystery, romance, espionage, and action.  What holds all these elements together is the caustic wit of Deb whose honeymoon with her new husband, Chip, doesn’t go as planned when mermaids are spotted on a snorkeling trip.  The book satirizes everything from upper middle class privilege, environmentalism, political correctness, relationships, and more.  Along with Deb and Chip there are a cast of quirky characters that Deb describes in biting detail.  I wasn’t expecting the ending, but as with many twists the plot took, I felt that the surprising conclusion still felt organic to the work and added a poignancy to Deb’s sometimes superficiality.

Housewitch by Katie Schickel

Allison Darling is a witch, a secret she has kept and tried to ignore since she was abandoned by her mother as a child.  She feels like an outsider in the wealthy town where she lives and never quite fit in with the Glamour Girls, the cool moms in town, until one day her magic begins to manifest whether she wants it to or not.  When her mother passes away, Allison must confront not only her past, but that of her heritage to create a safe and better future for herself and her kids.  Housewitch at times felt like two novels in one; parts felt like a humorous take on the Mommy Wars with magic thrown in to add an air of absurdity to conflicts over things like children competing in a Science Fair and at other times it felt more of a straight urban fantasy with elements of a powerful evil witch and the use of classic nursery rhymes as spells.  For me the humorous parts were stronger elements and I would love to see Schickel focus on this more in her future books since I felt she had a keen eye for satire.

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

Of the three books on the list, The Grendel Affair is the most typical of the Urban Fantasy Genre.  Fans of Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series or Men in Black, will want to check out Shearin’s humorous tale about the SPI (Supernatural Protection Investigations), who keep the monsters in check in Manhattan.  New agent Makeena Fraser can see through any spell or disguise so knows supernatural creatures from werewolves to vampires for their true nature.  She and her partner must prevent descendants of Beowulf’s Grendel from ruining New Year’s Eve in Time Square and revealing the existence of monsters to an unsuspecting world.  Fraser is spunky, but gets herself into a variety of quirky situations along the way to solving the case.  The series starts off with the Fraser already working for the agency and throws the reader right into the action.  The next in the SPI series, The Dragon Conspiracy is also available and is set at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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