Why I Read Urban Fantasy

I’ve always enjoyed the supernatural, in both movies and in books. I love watching stuff like Shaun of the Dead (zombies), Idle Hands (demons), or Cursed (werewolves). But stuff like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th was never for me. It’s not that I find the latter scary, exactly. I just never preferred them.You may have noticed that the former are all horror-comedies. Cursed has the funniest werewolf scene ever. Idle Hands has Devon Sawa and Seth Green. I don’t think you need to be told anything further. And Shaun of the Dead cracks me up all the way through. But I especially love the singing-zombie scene:

(You’re welcome. No, really. You are. And that’s probably the only time you’ll ever see me link to YouTube, unless it’s a book trailer.)

I always joked that I didn’t watch slasher flicks because they were too real. Except I wasn’t really joking.

Sure, I’ll watch every episode of NCIS ever filmed, but I don’t watch true crime stories. They don’t hold my interest. Why? Because they ARE too real. We’re reminded every day in the news of the sorts of things one person can do to another. I don’t really need to seek it out.

What’s the difference then? Honestly, I think it’s the humor. Even morbid humor is better than the stiff seriousness they use on Unsolved Mysteries and the like. I believe in tempering the worst of human nature (murder & death) with the best that life has to offer (humor, laughter, human resilience).

So what’s the point of this post?

I realized yesterday that this is the one point that makes or breaks an urban fantasy read for me. The murder, kill, death has to be alleviated with some laughter or I just end up depressed. I’ve been reading a lot of depressing urban fantasy lately: Brenna Yovanoff’s The Replacement (review forthcoming), Carrie Vaughn’s Discord’s Apple. While it’s not exactly UF in genre, I’ve also been listening to the audio of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. All three are excellent reads in their own way – I find the sociological aspect of the cultural changes in The Passage particularly fascinating – but none of them are happy books.

And I didn’t fall in love with any of them the way I have some others. Others like: Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series; Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series; Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series; or Kim Harrison’s The Hollows. The common thread? Humor. Laughter. Even sarcasm. Especially in the face of disaster, death, and the end of the world.

The kind of books you enjoy can tell you a lot about yourself. What does your choice of book say about you? Share your suggestions and thoughts in the comments.