I’ve become a big fan of urban fantasy novels in the last few years. In a way, I’ve been one for a long time without knowing it. If anything can be pointed to as the root of my UF fandom, it’s probably the exposure to Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a impressionable young lad of 13. In more recent times, I’ve gotten pretty addicted to Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. For a long time, I was content to absorb all of the books that series, back to back to back, but I’ve been out of those books for a while and have to wait all the way until DECEMBER to get the next one. That’s horrible.
So, I decided to go exploring some other writers in the genre, difficult to do when I’m not sure I want to dive into the vast seas of the urban fantasy romance genre just yet. I mean, I’m not against it in general, I did read The Host, after all. I’m just not even sure where to get started along that particular path… and if I did, I’m not sure there is a good turn off to get back to the rest of the world.
Atticus O’Sullivan is Urban Fantasy’s Superman
It took me a bit to get into Hounded. At first, I was pretty put off by the nature of Kevin Hearne’s writing. It just didn’t “click” with me. I almost put the book down. I didn’t really feel any kind of connection to Atticus. I didn’t feel empathy for him. I didn’t even like him. I would have tossed the book to the side and gone off to play tic-tac-toe against myself if it hadn’t been for Oberon the dog. Atticus’s sidekick kept me in the story, and I’m glad that he did. It made me realize something really important about why I wasn’t enjoying the book.
When I read the Dresden files, I came to love Harry Dresden because he was a bit of a chump getting kicked around by the bigger, badder super-powers. He’d get smacked around all book long until finally, scraping past by just the grit of his toe-jam, he’d outwit and conquer.
Harry Dresden is Urban Fantasy’s Batman. There is quite a bit more to the dark, gritty feel of the books that can add to that parallel, but I’ll trust you to hunt them down for yourselves.
The Harry-Batman connection made me start to think about the whole Urban Fantasy genre with a new light. Buffy was Wonder Woman. Bella is just a Gender-Flipped Archie, forced to choose between the Werebetty and Vampronica. With that thought racing through my head, I had a small, violent, nuclear flash of insight. Atticus O’Sullivan is Urban Fantasy’s Superman, and like the original Superman, he’s a bit of a boring, overly-powerful character all by himself. It takes a supporting cast.
Now that I realized exactly what I was reading, it took the story from an annoying level of “Problem arises, protagonists murders them without breaking a sweat, gets away with it,” cycle into the “God-man murders other god-men so he can get laid with god-ladies,” geek fantasy. Still not my personal bag. I can’t really relate to any character that gets to have regular sex because of how awesome he is, too far from my own experience. What I can relate too, though, is a guy that is willing to murder because someone because they threatened his dog.
I’m a dog person like that.
In the long run, I will probably finish the series, if for no other reason than my obsessive compulsive need to absorb all of the world’s stories into my brain-dome. Superman isn’t my go-to hero, and Atticus O’Sullivan will never be my go to spell slinger, but, I like to keep up with the stories, you know?