My Top 5 . . . urban fantasy series

June 26, 2009 at 5:00 am 31 comments

So, last week I did my Top 6 favorite historical romances. This week, I’m focusing on urban fantasy. I decided to choose my favorite series, since, for me, a lot of uf’s appeal  is the development of a world, characters and plot lines over multiple books. The books are not listed in any particular rank order, however the book pictured for each series is my favorite from that series.

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Iron Kissed by Patricia BriggsMercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

What makes this series one of my favorites is Mercy. Her voice really carries the series, and she is such a sympathetic character.

Even though she is a supernatural character (she’s a Walker that shifts into a coyote,) there is always the feeling that she is the outsider among all the super powerful weres, vampires and fae.

She often has to rely on her brains, speed, and small size when going up against stronger and larger foes.

I also really like the world Patricia Briggs has created. There is always an element of politics between the different supernatural races which I find interesting.

And, of course, there’s also Adam and Sam. ;-)

  • Patrica Briggs’ site

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Dead to the World by Charlaine HarrisSouthern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris

I love Charlaine Harris’ mixture of humor, mystery and romance in this series. Some may call Sookie a Mary Sue, but I think her self-deprecating sense of humor make her incredibly likeable, and her “stranger in a strange land” perspective amid all the supernaturals make her easy to identify with.

It also doesn’t hurt that there are great secondary characters like Pam, Bubba, and Sam. The Southern Vampire series reminds me of a great ensemble tv series, where each supporting character really brings something unique to the story.

Another thing I  enjoy about the series is the brilliant audiobook productions, read by Johanna Parker. She really brings Sookie’s world to life, and gives each character a distinct voice. After listening to the last few releases in audiobook, I actually have gone back and started listening to the series from the beginning. I’ve even listened to the first in the series, Dead Until Dark, more than once, and it’s now become one of my 3 top “comfort listens”.

  • Charlaine Harris’ site.

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Blood Rites by Jim ButcherThe Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Looking back over my read book lists — I kept them well before I kept a blog — it looks like this is the very first urban fantasy series I read. And, boy, it was a great introduction to the genre!

I love Harry Dresden’s smart-ass sense of humor, which never feels arrogant or obnoxious. He’s a great combination of powerful wizard and that sad sack private detective who always falls for the “dame” — and gets him into deep trouble.

This is another series with a great supporting cast, including favorites like Thomas, Bob the Skull, and Butters. One cool thing about the Dresden Files is how these secondary characters have developed along with Harry.

Another strength of this series is Jim Butchers writing. He is a master at plotting and tension. I love how he leads the reader along, and builds the story to the big climax. Great stuff!

  • Jim Butcher’s site.

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For a Few Demons MoreThe Hollows by Kim Harrison

My favorite thing about this series is the world Kim Harrison has created. It is so original and there’s always a sense of humor about it.

In the Hollows, Inderlanders (supernatural beings) have been living openly among mundane humans for about a generation. There are still moments of tension, but for the most part society has dealt with the “revelation” and made adjustments.

Rachel, Ivy and Jenks are such a great team, and have stuck together through the ups and downs over the course of the series. I love how they have not just been business partners, but also best friends and family to each other.

Kim Harrison hasn’t spared her characters, really putting them through the ringer sometimes. (If you read the series, you know what I’m talking about. I am still traumatized by when I think about it.) But, it’s always been things that have been necessary for the characters to grow.

  • Kim Harrison’s site.

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Bitten by Kelley ArmstrongThe Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is one of the most confident writers I can think of. She really guides the reader through her often complex plots with clarity and ease.

The characters are extremely well drawn, and I love how they grow from book to book. The series will focus for 2 or 3 books on a character or characters, then shift to other protagonists who were previously secondary characters. In this way, the reader acquires a 360° perspective of the world KA has created.

Elena is still my favorite protagonist, however, and I enjoy her sarcastic edgy humor, as well as her no-nonsense attitude.

It was a toss up between the Bitten cover and the Men of the Otherworld cover, since they are just about tied for my favorite in the series. The tie-breaker for me was that the Bitten audiobook is another “comfort listen” for me.

  • Kelley Armstrong’s site.

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OK, so a couple of things I notice that most of these books have in common: great secondary characters, a sense of humor (though without being “ha-ha funny” paranormals) and 3 of them — The Southern Vampire series, The Dresden Files, and The Otherworld series usually sport the best opening lines of any books I can think of, uf or otherwise.

Be sure to check out Kati’s posts, listing her favorite historical romances and contemporary romances over at her place, Katidom.

What are your top 5 urban fantasy series?

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Just finished reading . . . In the Blood 10 . . .

31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lea  |  June 26, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Great Post Renee:

    I haven’t read the Patricia Briggs series yet but have the first 3 books and am looking forward to it. :)

    I would have to say my top 5 favorite Urban Fantasy fav’s would be, Kat Richardson’s, “Greywalker” series, Tanya Huff’s, “Blood Books”; Jennifer Armintrout’s, “Blood Ties” series (UF/Romance/Horror); Ann Aguirre’s, “Corrine Solomon” series (there is only one book so far but it rocked); and Karen Chance’s, “Cassandra Palmer”, series.

    Have a great weekend Renee.

    L

    Reply
    • 2. Renee  |  June 26, 2009 at 7:53 am

      Lea: The Briggs is good stuff! If I had made it a top 10, Harper Blaine and the Blood Books would have been in there (or maybe Huff’s Smoke series. I love Tony!) The Corrine Solomon was a good one, but since there’s only 1, I didn’t consider it. I really like the Cassie Palmer series. In fact, I have the most recent one checked out from the library, so will probably read that really soon!

      Reply
  • 3. Leslie  |  June 26, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Wow – the only one of those I’ve read is the Patty Briggs series which would definitely make my top 5. I’ve got the first 5 books of Harrison’s series on the TBR mountain. Not sure when I’ll get to those. :)

    I would also add Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Ann Aguirre’s Jax series, Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series and KMM’s Fever series.

    Looking forward to seeing what others recommend. Always need more books on the TBR pile. LOL

    Reply
    • 4. Renee  |  June 26, 2009 at 7:59 am

      Leslie: My husband just read the 1st Kim Harrison, and really liked it! Kate Daniels was tough to leave off, and would have been #6, but I really tried to keep it to 5 this time! Cal would have been in my top 10, too! (Did you see my desktop picture in last week’s post?)
      Jax (though I consider that sf romance) and the Fever series are also great reads! :-)

      Reply
  • 5. Mandi  |  June 26, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Fun post!! I am going to read Kelley Armstrong when I go to the beach in a few weeks, so currently my fav UF series are:

    Mercy Thompson – Briggs
    Fever Series – KMM
    Magic series – Ilona Andrew
    Night Huntress series – Jeaniene Frost
    Anita Blake – LKH (books 1-12)

    I have Karen Chance in my tbr. I loved Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre..so that may become a fav after I read the next one:)

    Reply
  • 6. Renee  |  June 26, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Mandi: Ooh, you’re in for great beach reading!
    lol. I like how you stipulated book #s for the Anita Blake. It was hard to leave her off for that reason. She’s still book crack to me, but the more recent ones kept it from my top 5.
    Yes, Corrine Solomon has that potential! I loved Blue Diablo.

    Reply
  • 7. Hilcia  |  June 26, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Hi there. I’m not much of an Urban Fantasy reader. I decided to give UF a shot this year and actually started reading a few series recently.

    My favorite so far is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

    I started Jerry Smith-Ready’s WVMP series and Nalini’s Guild of Hunters UF series and I’m enjoying both. KMM’s Fever series was a favorite until the last book *g*.

    I do have the 1st book for the Harry Dresden series on my TBR pile, but didn’t get to it yet — I will read that whole series one of these days – and I’m about to start on Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt. :)

    Reply
    • 8. Renee  |  June 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

      Hilicia: I love Kate Daniels. I just got WVMP #2 yesterday from Rosie, and will start the series soon! I’ve heard such great things about it.
      I love Harry! IDK if you like audiobooks, but James Marsden (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) reads the series. I’ve been dying to try them out for a “re-read”. I hear he’s great!

      Reply
  • 9. nath  |  June 26, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Hi Renee :D

    I agree with 3 of your choices :) The Dresden Files, the Mercy Thompson (although I have to admit, I’m more of an Alpha and Omega girl) and Women of the Otherworld :D

    I’m not sure what I would choose to make a top 5… hmmm.

    I did try both the Charlaine Harris and Kim Harrison and meh. did not for me ^_^;

    Reply
    • 10. Renee  |  June 28, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      nath: you know, I considered A & O, but didn’t include any that only had 1 book out. (Though I considered “cheating” by lumping it in with the Mercy series. lol)
      We definitely have to do something together when the next Otherworld comes out! Though waiting till November is hard waiting!

      Reply
      • 11. nath  |  July 1, 2009 at 5:48 am

        Actually, October if I’m not wrong… Actually, I’ve just checked again and it says September 29 as the release date! :) but definitively, we’ll have to do something!

        and LOL, you could have cheated :) and technically, A & O has 1.25 book out, LOL, cos you have to count the anthology.

        Reply
  • 12. orannia  |  June 27, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Great list Renee! Hmmm, I completely agree with you on the Mercy Thompson series…and definitely on Adam and Sam :) But I have to confess that I think Bran has overtaken them :) I am also enjoying the Alpha & Omega series!

    I haven’t tried Kim Harrison, but I’m not sure if the heroine will work for me at present.

    You know, my mind has gone blank :) I do have both Bitten and Men of the Otherworld on my TBR list. I’m guessing I should read Bitten first?

    Reply
    • 13. Renee  |  June 28, 2009 at 12:05 pm

      orannia: Bran! I love him the more I read the series. I’d love for PB to really focus on him in one of the books.
      Bitten is deflinitely worth reading first, for the character backgrounds, since that’s where they are all introduced. :-)

      Reply
  • 14. Marg  |  June 28, 2009 at 2:53 am

    The only one of these series that I am not yet reading is Kim Harrison. Given the exalted company that you she is with in this list I probably should make an effort to get hold of this list.

    All my favourites have already been listed – Kelley Armstrong, Sookie Stackhouse are probably my top two at this point.

    Reply
  • 15. Renee  |  June 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Marg: I really love KH’s Hollows, and my husband enjoyed the first book, as well!
    I am totally in awe of KA’s and CH’s writing skills. They are total masters.

    Reply
  • 16. Jacqueline L.  |  June 28, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    My top 5 urban fantasy series list looks like yours except for Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series replacing Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series. I’ve only recently started the Otherworld series. :)

    Reply
  • 17. Renee  |  July 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Jacqueline L: I really like Karen Chance’s series, both Cassie’s and Dorinna’s. She’s such a witty writer. I’ve got the latest CP series in my tbr. Must get to it soon! :-)

    Reply
  • 18. Wonton  |  July 3, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    uhm…Anybody like JR Ward?

    Reply
  • 19. Mandi  |  July 3, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I love her, but I consider her more romance..although I know people argue her last couple have been more UF.

    Reply
  • 20. Renee  |  July 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Wonton & Mandi: Actually, I’ll be posting my fave paranormal romances in the next few days, and JRW will be on there. ;-)
    I’ve only read a couple of the BDB series, which I’m loving so far. I’ve heard about her shift to a more uf feel, but I’m not yet there in the series. I’m curious to see what happens, especially since I really love both sub genres. :-)

    Reply
  • […] on Some hit and run reviewsJill Shalvis on Some hit and run reviewsRenee on My Top 5 . . . urban fantasy…Mandi on My Top 5 . . . urban fantasy…Wonton on My Top 5 . . . urban fantasy…June 2009 […]

    Reply
  • 22. Barbara  |  July 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I love all your series except Jim Butcher. I liked the first one but couldn’t get interested in the 2nd. Maybe I’ll try it again. I also really like the Jeaniene Frost “Night Huntress” series, House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast (Young Adult and FABULOUS), the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn (about a werewolf! How could I resist books about a werewolf named Kitty?) and he Riley Jensen series by Keri Arthur (which probably borders on paranormal romance/porn because there is A LOT of sex but also a bad guy to catch). I’ve recently read a great YA book by Kelley Armstrong that is going to be part of a series, too.

    Reply
  • 23. Renee  |  July 27, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Barbara: JB’s skills definitely improve as the series progresses. The Dresden Files audiobooks are supposed to be great, too. James Marsden (spike from Buffy tVS) is the narrator. Night Huntress and Kitty Norville are great! I also liked Kelley Armstrong’s YA book, though I haven’t yet read the 2nd one.
    I read a few of the Riley Jensen series, and it’s definitely more in the erotic pnr category. ;-)

    Reply
    • 24. Saige  |  May 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      You know I felt that way about the Riley Jensen series in the beginning as well, but after the first 4 books or so it is toned down quite considerably. having just finished the series this evening, I have to say it ended amazingly, and only gets better the further you go! Try it out!

      Reply
  • 25. Jennifer Houghton  |  September 1, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Renee, I’m new to your wsite. Thank you for all the suggested reading. Just like you I love reading, especially urban fantasy and romance, and your website provides great ideas! Cheers!

    Reply
  • 26. Renee  |  September 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Jennifer: Thanks for dropping by! Its always nice to find other people who enjoy the same books I do. Please let me know what you think, if you read any of the recs. :-)

    Reply
  • 27. Comfort listens « Renee’s Book Addiction  |  November 10, 2009 at 5:02 am

    […] ReleasesHas the school year started yet?My second favorite Scottish series: Monarch of the GlenMy Top 5 . . . urban fantasy seriesRBA's Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 3 of […]

    Reply
  • 28. iCe  |  January 23, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I love Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison. (Although for a while, Kim Harrison worried me a bit with Kisten and the blood issues…so it would have put her on dead bottom, but I am all over that now)

    The Charlaine Harris series I’ve tried, but yeah the TV series got to me first and it colored my view on me somewhat, -_-; and I’ve also tried to read Kelly Armstrong, but haven’t liked it unfortunately.,

    But for lesser known series, I like Marla Mason, and the Elemental Assassin and would include those in my top five right.

    With runner up for Ilona Andrew’s The Edge Chronicles… and Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series (which always seems like a guilty pleasure to me, haha). Georgina Kincaid and Cassandra Palmer also would be at the back of my mind. And to make it a round ten instead of the five… I would simply love to add… Cal Leandros series.

    1. Dresden Files
    2. Mercy Thompson
    3. Marla Mason
    4. Fever series
    5. The Hollows

    … and after (gah I didn’t add Elemental assassin in top five, the fever series sneaked in!!!).

    I always include Anne Bishop in all my top books, although she’s more traditional than urban fantasy, so I guess that doesn’t count. :)

    Reply
  • 29. Nikki  |  April 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    My first Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series I read was the Sookie Stackhouse books. I loved them! Those are what hooked me on this genre. So here are some of my faves:

    Sookie Stackhouse – Charlaine Harris
    Black Dagger Brotherhood – J R Ward
    Night Huntress – Jeaniene Frost
    Anita Blake – Laurell K Hamilton
    Shifters – Rachel Vincent
    The Hollows – Kim Harrison
    Dark Tower Series – Stephen King
    Cassie Palmer Series – Karen Chance
    Chicagoland Vampires -

    Reply
  • 30. Nikki  |  April 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    My first Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series I read was the Sookie Stackhouse books. I loved them! Those are what hooked me on this genre. So here are some of my faves:

    Sookie Stackhouse – Charlaine Harris
    Black Dagger Brotherhood – J R Ward
    Night Huntress – Jeaniene Frost
    Anita Blake – Laurell K Hamilton
    Shifters – Rachel Vincent
    The Hollows – Kim Harrison
    Dark Tower Series – Stephen King
    Cassie Palmer Series – Karen Chance
    Chicagoland Vampires – Chloe Neill
    Mercy Thompson – Patricia Briggs
    Kitty Norville – Carrie Vaugh
    Georgina Kincaid – Richelle Mead
    Immortals After Dark – Kresley Cole
    Kate Daniels – Ilona Andrews
    Undead (aka Queen Betsy) MaryJanice Davidson

    I could go one more, but I think that’s enough!
    A good website to keep track of books you want to read and/or have read is http://www.goodreads.com!

    Reply
  • 31. ps2soccer  |  September 11, 2014 at 3:54 am

    ฉันมี ฉันได้ รับการ ท่อง ท่อง
    ออนไลน์ มากกว่า สาม ชั่วโมง ในวันนี้ แต่ฉัน ไม่เคยพบ บทความที่น่าสนใจ ใด ๆ เช่นคุณ
    มัน มันเป็น สวย คุ้มค่า
    พอสำหรับฉัน ใน ความคิดของฉัน ถ้าทุก เว็บมาสเตอร์ เจ้าของเว็บไซต์ และบล็อกเกอร์ ที่ทำ
    เนื้อหาที่ดี ที่คุณ ได้ อินเทอร์เน็ต จะ มากขึ้น มีประโยชน์ กว่าที่เคย
    .

    Reply

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