Most of my urban fantasy mainstays, the series that I’m still following loyally, are ones that I picked up before I began blogging. Which means whenever a new book comes out, I’m left thinking about whether to address the series or the book, or how to talk about a book further along in a series. So to put some of this out of the way, I’m throwing together a master post of the urban fantasy series I follow, along with their initial premises and my favorite aspects about them.
Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance
First Book: Touch the Dark
Premise: Cassie ranks fairly low on the supernatural pecking order–she gets visions of the future and talks to ghosts, whereas vampires and mages are much more obviously dangerous. Still, her powers are useful enough that a shady vampire had her raised in his household until she escaped. But now he’s finally tracked her down.
To make matters more complicated, Cassie is in line to inherit a much more prestigious power, one whose passage no one controls. She’s unaware of this, but the vampire’s master is…and so are the other people in the same line of succession.
Number of Books: 8
Favorite Title: Curse the Dawn
- Karen Chance is really creative–it shows in her action scenes, in her world-building, in every little detail. Her writing evokes Murphy’s Law to great effect, with things getting rapidly worse in the most awesome ways.
- A big defining characteristic of the series is time travel. Because we follow Cassie’s perspective, we follow her personal timeline–but this doesn’t always match up to the same order other people will experience events. When Cassie’s actions change time, she even ends up remembering things that never happened. This means a lot of characters have a lot of different information at different times, and it’s cool to realize who knew what when, and what that means for their past actions.
Dorina Basarab series by Karen Chance
First Book: Midnight’s Daughter
Premise: Dorina is a dhampir, half-human and half-vampire. Her kind are detested by vampires because of the risk they present, and even if they weren’t, they aren’t given to living long lives. Dory is an exception, centuries old, and the daughter of a particularly family-oriented vampire–Mircea Basarab, brother of the famous Dracula. Her relationship with her father is complicated and mostly distant. Until her infamous uncle escapes, and Mircea asks Dory to help track him down.
Number of Books: 3
Favorite Title: Midnight’s Daughter
- I love these books because of the sheer chaos. Much like in the Cassie Palmer series, the world-building and action scenes are imaginative.
- Dory has a complicated family history, and her relationship with her father is interesting, especially as she learns more about it.
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
First Book: Magic Bites
Premise: Kate is a smart-mouthed mercenary who works hard to isolate herself and come off as a common thug. She’s in hiding, and she can’t afford to stand out. Unfortunately, the death of her old guardian forces her to work with the shapeshifters. As she slowly starts letting more people in, her secrets become more and more threatened…which risks not only her own life, but everyone she cares about.
Number of Books: 9 (10 if you count one novel from Kate’s friend’s POV)
Favorite Title: Gunmetal Magic (though this is the book that isn’t from Kate’s POV)
- These books have great world-building, often based off of mythology, and great humor.
- The series evolves as Kate’s life changes, and the status quo has shifted several times in major ways.
October Daye series by Seanan McGuire
First Book: Rosemary and Rue
Premise: October (or Toby) is a changeling, someone with a mix of human and fae ancestry. Despite the fanatical emphasis on purity in fae society, she’s managed to build a place for herself on the fringes, crossing over to the human world. She married a human man, had a changeling daughter, and lived a good life–until a spell cast on her by one of her enemies transforms her into a fish for over a decade.
When she comes back, her life is gone. She hasn’t aged, but her husband and daughter have long since moved on after her disappearance. Burned by trying to live in the human world, but out of place in the fae one, Toby is left adrift. Still, no matter how the fae feel about her heritage, her skillset is a useful one. And Toby still has her ties to their world…
Number of Books: 10
Favorite Title: Once Broken Faith
- Toby as a protagonist grabbed me immediately, with her self-imposed isolation and how she learns to let people in.
- I love the way Toby’s relationships evolve. As she gains a better sense of herself, she comes to see the flaws with some of her longstanding relationships. Rifts open up between her and the people she’s known the longest. But the friendships she makes more recently come out stronger.
- My favorite part of the setting has to be the knowes, which are pockets of realities that belong to certain ruling fae. They reshape their space and geography according to their rulers’ wishes, and they have an interesting level of sentience which Toby is one of the few people to acknowledge.
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
First Book: Moon Called
Premise: Mercy is a walker–a shapeshifter that turns into a coyote–who was raised by werewolves. Out on her own making a living as a mechanic, she’s nonetheless surrounded by supernaturals. From the werewolf alpha living next door, to the fae from whom she bought her garage, to the vampire whose Scooby-Doo themed van she repairs.
Mercy isn’t strong like a vampire, doesn’t heal like a werewolf, and doesn’t have the power of the fae. But somehow, she keeps stepping up when trouble rears its head–and it all starts when her neighbor is attacked and his teenage daughter abducted.
Number of Books: 9
Favorite Title: River Marked
- I love the character dynamics, and the way they grow. 9 books in, and yet there are always new ways for relationships to evolve.
- It’s also nice that in addition to moving forward, we’re given more perspective on what’s already happened. Mercy has a lot of backstory with most of the main characters from before the series started–which I also quite like–and sometimes we’ll get insights to how their perspective has changed or what Mercy didn’t know at the time.
Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs
First Book: Cry Wolf (though the series technically starts with the novella Alpha and Omega)
Premise: Charles is a centuries old werewolf, and the son of North America’s most dominant Alpha. He acts as his father’s enforcer. While solving a problem with one of his father’s packs, he meets Anna–one of the rare Omega werewolves who has the protective instincts of an alpha but not the aggression. And also, apparently, his mate.
Anna didn’t become a werewolf in the normal, acceptable way. No one asked her if she wanted it, no one explained what it entailed. One day, she was attacked, and just like that her life had changed. She meets Charles when he comes to clean up her mess of a pack. And she leaves with him, joining his father’s pack. As Anna and Charles are still getting to know each other as people, they also come to find that they make a decent team. Which is good, because Charles’ father only sends him out against the greatest threats, and they’ll need each other for the things the other couldn’t do alone.
Number of Books: 4 (5 if you count the novella)
Favorite Title: Fair Game
- Anna and Charles are in an interesting and strange place. Their wolves chose one another before they got to know each other. So they don’t really have the familiarity to know how to deal with each other or help with the other’s problems. But because of their wolves, there’s high stakes for both of them to figure out how to make this relationship work. They’re both adults, but they also both have their hangups and need to spend time trying to figure out how to communicate.
- We meet Charles’ father Bran and his pack in the Mercy Thompson series, but this one centers more of those characters. Bran’s pack makes for an interesting set up, because he takes the wolves that aren’t fit to be anywhere else. Often the old and disturbed ones. So it’s interesting to see more of the inner dynamics of his pack.