Books in Dresden Files Series (16)
There aren't a lot of private eye wizards, but there are a number of books in this series.
This is perhaps one of the more difficult sub-genres to place books in simply because it’s so open-ended in terms of what can be included. The one quintessential element of every urban fantasy novel is that it contains magical elements set within the real world.
Quite often, the magical elements present in the real world remain unknown to most of the world, except for a few select denizens of this “unseen” realm; these denizens may include witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, and other supernatural entities – all co-existing with the real world.
When it comes to incorporating magic into the urban fantasy setting, there are several ways:Magic is mysterious and hidden and the protagonist suddenly discovers it exists Magic is hidden; protagonist is part of that world (The Dresden Files) Magic is hidden or never existed but was suddenly introduced to the world and its presence is felt or known to some degree (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, futuristic fantasies) Magic exists and is known in the world (Anita Blake).
One trend recently has been the popularity of the detective/noir with urban fantasy; you’ll typically have some down-and-out protagonist who’s a supernatural detective/investigator who, perforce of his job, delves into the supernatural realm that exists within the real world.
Vampire urban fantasy is also quite popular, with vampires co-existing (often ruling from the shadows) with normal humans, with either a half vampire/full vampire who identifies with the humans and becomes some sort of champion for the human cause.
Many of the urban fantasy tales are slotted into the vampire romance category, for which we've created a separate list.
There are so many urban fantasy books out there, we've tried to provide a balanced list of some of the best urban fantasy books in the genre; this list draws on a wide range of completely different urban fantasy: some good old classic vampire fiction, Celtic mythology, epic-fantasy-meets-urban fantasy, and even some good old horror.
There aren't a lot of private eye wizards, but there are a number of books in this series.
He writes stories where castration, rape, skull-crushing, and child sacrifice are parred for the course. So it should come as no surprise that George R.R. Martin conquered the sub-genre of horror fantasy before he wrote A Song of Ice and Fire. It's much (MUCH) more subtle than the series he's most famous for “something you'll need to keep in mind if you plan to read Fevre Dream. And you should. Why it made the list thanks to Twinkle Toes Twilight and the many vomit-inducing teenage wet dreams it spawned, vampires have lost much of their mythos. Long before that, Martin published a tightly written tale that combines elements of horror with urban fantasy in a thrilling urban fantasy. If you're experiencing the same kind of vampire fatigue as the rest of the intelligent world, you might be tempted to avoid this book. But that fatigue is exactly why you should read it. Because it will erase the memories of Stephanie Meyer's brand of sparkly literary poison. As with all things Martin, you won't find this a comfortable journey. The story is complex and "as always“ the writing is beautiful. You can say two things about Martin: First, that he's a twisted sunnuvabitch, and second, that he has a way with words that few people do. The action doesn't move quickly in Fevre Dream, but that only serves to heighten the suspense. You will experience real frights, but nothing gory enough to limit it to a horror story.
And of course, I should recommend other vampire fiction. There's a million vampire books out there, but there are a handful that stand out above the rest. Here's my recommendations for other vampire fiction worth reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker -- the book that launched a thousand imitations -- is a must read. Salem's Lot by Steven King ties together the classic King-style horror (small town where residents are disconnected from each other where pockets of evil can fester and hide, a few good people who band together to fight evil,etc). I Am Legend by Richard Matheson which is sort of survivor meets Dracula. And Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons -- a good book by a damn good author. For a Vampire book that does something new with the genre, read Peeps by Scott Westerfield.
School fantasy is often aimed at children, and it's very successful at hitting that market. It's much harder to appeal exclusively to adults, and that's where The Magicians shines. Rather than the typical twelve-year-old protagonist, it tells the story of a high-school student not yet aware of his powers. Quentin Coldwater is obsessed with fantasy books, an outcast, and somewhat depressed. When given the opportunity to study magic, he jumps on it, but quickly learns it’s not as fun as it seems. In The Magicians, spells are hard. Learning magic is tedious and requires background knowledge of language and history. Quentin finds himself frustrated at his progress, no longer the prodigy he used to be. From there, the book only gets darker. The antagonist has no mercy, magic can kill simply through accidents, and drug use is rife. Lev Grossman stands in stark defiance of convention, refusing to sugar-coat magic and creates a tense and compelling story as a result.
You might want to give Susan Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a read. Like Lev Grossman's The Magicians, it's a story about magic in a world that supposedly has no magic. Both novels veer from the usual fantasy conventions, weighing in as more than just "fantasy." I like to call these "literary fantasy." This novel, however, heralds back to the Victorian era and features a more conventional sort of story (that borrows heavily from the likes of a Jane Austen novel in language an description) and is NOT a postmodern take on the fantasy genre that The Magicians is.
For another novel about Magicians in training, you might like The Night Circus. It's about two young magicians locked in deadly conflict trying to outperform the other who are both part of a magical circus. It's a rich and intoxicating read, most decidedly literary and one of the best fantasy books of 2011.
Harry Potter. Yes, if you like The Magicians, read Harry Potter the titular character who is deconstructed by Grossman and reformed into a far more complex and troubled and fallible version as the character Quinton.
If we are going to follow that rabbit down the rabbit hole into the dark and murky literary past, seeking the origin of boy-goes-to-magic school to become a wizard, we might as well get to one of the sources. If Potter made it a pop culture thing, then Ursula Le Guine helped bring it alive like no other author. Yes, I'm talking about The Wizard of Earthsea. Before there was Harry Potter, there was Ged.
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen. One thing I love about The Magicians is it moves the simpler children's fiction into the adult realm with an adult perspective. It's Narnia for grown-ups.One book about that perfectly captures the child realm but transforms it for adults is Gaimen's Ocean at the End of the Lane. Thematically, Gaimen does the same thing as Grossman. While both works are completely different in scope and plot, they do take a child's perspective but remake it for an adult which changes it.
The Secret History by Donna Tart. Not specifically fantasy per say, but the writing and tone, and characterization are somewhat similar. A young group of students at a college discover another way to think about their life and the ramifications of this change everything about how they live.
Anathem by Neal Stephenson. A science fiction story about a young boy who's a sort of monk and finds out the wider world is a complicated place.
The Magicians alludes to a number of popular fantasy classics. Alice in Wonderland is one such work and The Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, if you dig down a bit, The Magican books are a postmodern version of Narnia with the friendly animals revealed to be monsters.
Fantasy about Magicians and Magic Schools...
For a poignant story about competing magicians with a similar feel to it in tone and writing, read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Fantastic book and perhaps the CLOSEST similar read to Susanna Clarke's work that I've found. Definitely literary in tone and style.
A remarkable trilogy by Lev Grossman that subverts many of the fantasy tropes. It also features a precise and detailed breakdown of a magic system that's internally consistent. If you like the emphasis on learning magic following consistent rules, with a captivating story, awesome prose, and many deep themes explored, then The Magician is the best you are going to find. Arguably labeled as literary fantasy, though not so high brow that you can't enjoy it if you like more low-brow style fantasy (i.e. Sanderson books).
Want more good books about 'magicians'? You may also find that you like Sean Russell's Moontide Magic Rise duology. It's kind of the same premise: magic has vanished from the world, a couple of people are trying to bring magic back to the world, etc. In my opinion, this is the closest book/series that you'll find to Susanna Clarke's work.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist. If you want to forego all the literary aspects of fantasy and just opt to a straightforward classic style fantasy about a coming of age with a young boy becoming a powerful magician, then you could also read the standard epic village boy to might magician in Feist's Magician.
Literary Fantasy (fantasy with deep themes and beautiful writing):
The Golem and the Jinni. Another book you may just enjoy if you like fantastical tales that are touching and incredibly well written. Definitely considered literary fantasy.
TOOTH & CLAW by Joe Walton. Dragons living in a Victorian Society? I dare you to try it! Read if you like the rich Victorian fantasy setting present int Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
For an epic fantasy series about fairies, you could read Shadowmarch by Tad Williams. There's lots of little folklore tales about fairies and elder creatures scattered throughout the story -- something that Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has in abundance.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet. There's a lot of Brtitishness to this novel that you might just like if you liked Clarke's work.
If you like the slow pedantic pace of Clarke's work, the intense focus on characters and descriptions which almost seem to the point of excess but (finally) a fully realized magical world and with a gripping plot by the end of it, look no further than the majestic Gormenghast books.
For the rich use of the English language, read Lord Dunsany's magnificent The King of Elfland's Daughter. This is one of those proto-fanasy classics in the genre that few have read.
Jack Vance Dying Earth series. Science Fantasy, but oh god the use of the English language.
Are you a fan of fairies in a fantasy tale? Another book that deals with old fairy folk tales is Keith Donohue's The Stolen Child. A novel about the search for identity, The Stolen Child makes for a compelling read. The Stolen Child, like Susanna Clarke's work, is very well written. These books are sort of your "out of the box" fantasy. It's quite refreshing to see the fantasy genre has more to it than epic fantasy.
In creating this world, Powers borrowed ideas from all over the place. Mythology, Ancient Egyptian theology, quantum theory, and classical literature“ they're all used in The Anubis Gates. It's a ridiculous combination of ideas, but it's the reason why this book is so entertaining. Why it made the list It's clear that Powers is an ambitious writer. He has zero qualms about chucking whatever he can into the mix. He doesn't even seem concerned about it making sense. And yet, it does. With the diverse concepts thrown around in the book, the plot is complex. But you'll never feel lost it in. It's a testament to his talent that he's able to create clarity out of chaos. This is also a title that comfortably sits between many genres, without veering too far in any direction. There's just enough humor to keep it entertaining without turning it into a Pratchett-style spectacle. There are enough thrilling moments to keep you entertained without it becoming a (pre-born-again) Anne Rice novel. While the characters in The Anubis Gates aren't the well drawn, the plot is excellent, and unpredictable and will keep you guessing until the end“ where the loose threads are pulled together into a tight “and satisfying“ conclusion.
the rip-roaring adventure of The Anubis Gate, another tale that comes to mind is On Stranger Tides which is another awesome standalone novel by Time Powers (and the source material for the new-upcoming 4th Pirates of the Caribbean movie). You can also give Powers' other novels(all standalone) a shot too. They're always a mix of the fantastic and the tangible with a good dose of (sometimes weird) adventure thrown in. And if you like the whole "mythical elements coming to life" aspect of The Anubis Gate,then read Mythago Wood which is a novel about ancient myths coming to life. Neil Gaiman's American Gods and his excellent Anansi Boys are two other books in which anthropomorphized ancient myths struggle to coexist with modernity.
possibly recommend for faerie-related novels. Quite frankly,there's a zillion fantasy books about fairies, from romantic ones to dark horror ones, to sappy Twilight teeny-bopper series. I'll recommend the best I've stumbled across.
I've read that's similar to War for the Oaks, give Holly Black's Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale a good read. It's an edgy, intensely gritty modern faerie tale that should satisfy Emma Bull fans who those who want a darker sort of story. Ostensibly, it's a YA book (the protagonist is 16), but it's so dark and jaded, I don't see how that's the case.
girl-versus-urban-faeries-and-finds-self-empowerment tale, you can give the Wicked Lovely series a read. This one is less dark than Holly Black's Tithe and it's several books long. Women who love romance will especially like the series.
that deal with individuals getting caught up in Faery court wars, Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files feature a wizard who keeps getting mixed up with Faerie politics (especially the fourth book in the series, Summer Knight, which is only about Faerie politics and intrigue).
take on the whole Faerie mythos (about a boy who is stolen away from his parents and forced to live with Faeries) read Keith Donohue's The Stolen Child.
For a somewhat similar take on an “alternate reality London”, give Simon R. Green’s Nightshade series a read too. Also Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim series