While at a meeting last week a colleague of mine (thanks, Wes!) put me on to Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Much more than a Harry Potter redux, Mr. Grossman’s novel smoothly represents the urban fantasy genre with characters who feel very real.
A couple of years ago I did a Potter-centric post on this blog, and also touched on a few other popular urban fantasy writers. Back in that post I neglected to mention one of my favorite urban magic tales, Clive Barker’s Imajica. Like Grossman, Mr. Barker presents smart characters who retain their verisimilitude even when placed in the most exotic fantasy locales. While Grossman and Barker do not really fall into the “Young Adult” category of this genre, the Yalsa Hub’s definition of it fits both of them nicely:
Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy. For a novel to be an urban
fantasy, fantastical elements exist in an urban setting. However, this
can be a broad interpretation. Really, an urban fantasy is such where
fantastical elements are in play in a real-world setting and not in a
You can also find these elements at play in Bill Willingham’s wildly successful graphic novel series, Fables. Although it clocks in at around 400 pages, The Magicians presents an easy read, and could be an excellent entry point into urban fantasy stories for someone looking for a new genre to explore.