Hello Everyone, Please give a warn welcome back to the lovely Ally Shields!
Often I have wondered about the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. When I was just a reader (pre-blogger), I didn't really give it much thought until I started writing reviews and had to categorise the genre.
Is that Book an Urban Fantasy
or a Paranormal Romance?
There is so much crossover between these genres that it's often hard to tell the difference, but there are actually a few rules to help you decide.
Paranormal romance: First of all, it has to meet the criteria for a romance i.e. (1) the romantic line (whether sweet, erotic or somewhere in between) is predominant, and (2) the story has an HEA (Happily Ever After) ending.
The addition of the paranormal label is justified only when the supernatural elements are an integral part of the story, not a minor addon. The paranormal must change the plot in some way. This usually means that at least one of the main characters is—or becomes—a supernatural being with powers that affect the story's ending.
Urban Fantasy: The criteria for this genre are more restrictive in some ways. The setting must be a contemporary, human city (real or fictional). The fantasy element is predominant, and the fantasy characters must interact with the contemporary environment. This is often depicted by clashes between the two cultures.
There is no requirement for romance, although much of today's urban fantasy, especially those written by women, has a strong romantic line. Other books may verge on horror.
Books in a series have added to the confusion. Authors can cross the genre lines from book to book, resulting in various labels by booksellers. The Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton can be found under urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and horror. Personally I'd leave these under urban fantasy, although I concede that Jean Claude is a terrific romantic figure in most of the books.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Twilight series, which also meets the criteria of urban fantasy, is best categorized as paranormal romance. The author focused on the romantic element throughout the trilogy.
I normally classify my Guardian Witch series as urban fantasy for two reasons:
(1) book one does not meet each of the paranormal romance criteria. Not to be a spoiler, I'll leave it to you to figure out what's missing :)
(2) the mystery/adventure storyline is equally prominent with the romantic line in most of the books.
Now that I've told you all this, does it really matter? Not a bit! Not unless you want to write a book or you collect book trivia! What matters is whether the author has engaged you in the lives of people you want to read about. It takes a little sprinkle of magic.
I'm always looking for that next great read. What urban fantasy or paranormal romance authors would you suggest for my TBR pile?
My reviews of Ally's books:
Author Bio: I write urban fantasy/supernatural mysteries. The first three novels in the series have been released and Blood and Fire is scheduled for the fall of 2013. I am currently working hard on book 5. When not writing, I read multiple genres--urban fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, romance, and I love to travel--anywhere, anytime. I live in the Midwest with my miniature pinscher Ranger within driving distance of the Mississippi River that is the setting for my books.
Author Links: Goodreads l Twitter l website
So what do you think? Do you prefer UF or PNR?
Any great recommendations you can give us?