I think a lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I’m not a big fan of fantasy*. The truth is, a lot of the fantasy that I’ve read in the past has been either an obvious rip-off of Lord of the Rings, or else it’s trying so hard to be “different” that I feel like it’s a jumbled mess. However, I’m starting to explore the world of Urban Fantasy, and I’m enjoying it so far, partly because its use of a “real world” setting keeps the epic Tolkienocity (TM) to a minimum. I also like stories where ordinary people come face to face with supernatural (or otherwise otherworldly) shit and just have to deal with it in whatever ways they can.
I think that’s why I liked Lisa Shearin’s Magic Lost, Trouble Found so much.
Sure, it takes place in a fantasy world with elves, goblins, dwarfs, faeries, and dragons, but it’s a lot closer to a standard Urban Fantasy novel, many of which draw on the tropes of hardboiled and noir detective stories. It came as no surprise that Shearin is a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, since Raine Benares–like Harry Dresden–is both detective (called a “seeker” in this world) and mage. Raine is also sarcastic, smart, spunky, and pretty good with swords. She also happens to be an elf (y’know, if you care about that kind of stuff). Like every good private detective, Raine walks a delicate line between law and order, having friends and associates on both sides–just like Dresden, Spenser, Fritz Malone and Philip Marlowe.
I’ll definitely pick up the second book.
*: The exception, of course, being Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories…those kick serious ass.