Top Ten Urban Fantasy Essentials (As Decided By You)

Awesome human being Carol McKenzie has gone ahead and started to tally the books listed in the various Monday “crowdsourcing the essentials” posts (everyone please say, thanks, Carol!) — now it’s time to view some of the results. Starting with: Urban Fantasy.

So, the top ten are:

1. Jim Butcher: The Dresden Files series

2. Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere

3. Neil Gaiman: American Gods

4. Ilona Andrews: the Kate Daniels series

5. Richard Kadrey: the Sandman Slim series

6. Emma Bull: War for the Oaks

7. Seanan McGuire: the October Daye series

8. Patricia Briggs: the Mercy Thompson series

9. Kevin Hearne: the Iron Druid Chronicles

10. Rachel Caine: the Weather Warden series

Amongst the next top ten after that were authors like Lauren Beukes, Karen Marie Moning, Mike Carey, Sergei Lukyanenko, Ben Aaronovitch, Laurel K. Hamilton, C.E. Murphy, Kelley Armstrong, China Mieville and, totally entirely utterly unfairly, me.

(Remember, these are the ones chosen through compiling the comments on the urban fantasy post. If you want to check out this week’s, we’re asking about essential steampunk reads.)


  • Thank you, Carol!

    I’m just getting started on the Dresden Files after meaning to read them for years (just started book 4), and now it tooks like I have maaaaany more to add to my reading list!

  • I need to read Neil Gaiman and Kelley Armstrong. Been meaning to for years.
    I don’t understand the Jim Butcher thing. Just don’t get it. Someone please explain?

  • Kay, what don’t you get about the Dresden Files? For me, it’s as much about the character relationships as it is about the urban fantasy element. Butcher does a good job of connecting details from early books to significant situations or people that show up in later books. Many readers (including me), feel the series really gets “going” at the third book.

    • I don’t get why it’s so popular and so omg-you-have-to-read-this. Maybe it’s because I only read the first one. I just found it so…gosh I hate bashing other writers how do I put this…contrived? I was aware of the writer “writing” through the whole thing. And I’m no snob. I loved Twilight. :)

      • It -is- very plot-driven, and much of the appeal for me is that I can see how the plot paces and watch Butcher snap the various story elements together with finesse. You stack that up with a protagonist who drives on through a pretty massive character arc, as well as some whopper plot turns and character reveals, and the result is some of the strongest genre fiction out there.

        The world cosmology is also very nicely consistent and an interesting way to do a kitchen sink fantasy, in my book.

        Now, the first book is far inferior to the rest. The third book in particular drops a massive tone-bomb on everything, and the fifth book busts it all wide open, from which point every book pulls in a plot element that shakes things up in some way.

        On the whole, like I said, it’s tight genre fiction. If you don’t like genre fiction, you won’t find much in the DF to enjoy, though.

    • Well, the Dresden Files series is horribly written, for one thing. The quality of the writing is low and the books are actually a bit boring and terribly derivative. I toughed it out for the first three and kept asking my friends if they get better. They said Butcher actually did eventually learn to write (a bit) but the stories, themselves, never really got much better. I gave it up and went to go read Abercrombie and Meaney instead.

      • Yes. Thank you. Exactly what I thought. I’m well aware I’m still learning as a writer (aren’t we all) but for something to get so darn popular…well, my expectations are pretty high. It just doesn’t live up.

        If I didn’t have 7 pages of book samples I want to read on my Kindle, I might give books 2 & 3 a try. But when I’m rolling my eyes and forcing my way through book 1, moving on through the series just doesn’t sound very appetizing when there are so many other good books to read.

        I’ll read anything if it’s good. Dresden Files just isn’t. To me. I wish it was, because I think it’s very similar to what I write and I’ve been trying to find something that allows me to say, “If you liked , you’ll love my book.”

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