The new anthology from EDGE – Those Who Fight Monsters, edited by Justin Gustainis – should be on the “to read” list of anyone who calls themselves an urban fantasy fan… and here’s why. Revolving around the theme of occult detectives, the 14 stories included within feature beloved heroes and heroines from some of the most popular series on the shelves and is literally an urban fantasy sampler, containing bite-sized stories from a diversity of popular sagas...

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It’s been a while since I’ve read a really stellar new sword-and-sorcery novel – a substantial portion of fantasy releases these days are paranormal fantasy and epic fantasy – so I was more than excited to pick up the debut by Howard Andrew Jones, The Desert of Souls, a novel that Publishers Weekly described as a “multicolored Arabian-nights tale” that is “as richly textured as an antique rug."

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With the first day of Mardi Gras upon us, I’d like to give thanks to a city that has inspired more than its fair share of classic and bestselling genre fiction – especially in the realms of horror and paranormal fantasy. I realize that I’m probably missing dozens of books here, but here are just a few stellar sagas and novels that come to mind that are set or have taken place in New Orleans: Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Adrian Phoenix’s The Maker’s Song, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries...

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There are a lot of great urban fantasy sagas out there – Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, LKH’s Anita Blake, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, the Mercy Thompson series from Patricia Briggs, etc. – but it shocks me that more readers don’t mention Adrian Phoenix’s The Maker’s Song when talking about the crème de la crème of the genre. I’m not taking anything away from the aforementioned series – they’re all exceptional – but Phoenix’s Maker’s Song sequence is just a transcendent saga...

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Paranormal fantasy is no longer a small pond with a few big fish – it’s a vast lake filled with all different kinds of cold-blooded, aquatic wordsmiths. Yeah, there are a few enormous sharks (LKH, Kim Harrison, etc.), a whole lot of barracudas (Adrian Phoenix, Stacia Kane, Marcus Pelegrimas, etc.), countless up-and-coming piranha (Jaye Wells, Nicole Peeler, Kelly Meding, etc.) but that weird looking flat thing with purple glowing eyes lurking at the bottom of the lake – that’s J.F. Lewis...

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I’ve read arguably just as much fantasy as anyone alive (it’s been my job for the last 20 years) and I have never read anything as so totally immersive – and audaciously innovative – as Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle (The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear). The saga of Kvothe is a timeless, towering, masterwork – it's nothing short of the 21st Century equivalent of The Lord of the Rings and Rothfuss the next coming of Tolkien...

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It’s Monday morning and you’re stuck in some mind-numbing meeting. Suddenly, a panicked secretary comes storming in and tells everyone that they need to turn on the TV. It seems patients are rioting in a hospital just 20 blocks away and killing staff members. But when you witness the nightmare unfolding on television, you understand instantly what’s really happening: it’s a zombie outbreak and within hours you'll be in the middle of an undead Hell on Earth. What do you do?

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Haven’t heard of Col Buchanan yet? Trust me: you will. The Northern Ireland native’s recently released debut novel Farlander is a deceptively deep read. At first, I thought I had immersed myself in yet another assassin-powered fantasy (Hearn’s Tales of the Otori, Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, the Night Angel trilogy from Weeks, etc.) – and while Farlander certainly is powered by characters who are assassins, that’s just the first layer of this multi-tapestried novel...

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After reading a particularly deep, thematically intense fantasy novel, I sometimes like to cleanse my palate with a little comedic literary irreverence. I must admit though, I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, I used to stay away from most humorous fantasy – I either found it not funny or bordering on offensive. Then I experienced of twisted genius of Mark Henry, author of the outrageous Amanda Feral saga, which chronicles the misadventures of a Seattle party girl – and zombie...

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Some people dismiss fantasy as mindless literary escapism – and, yes, some of it certainly is – but it’s sagas like N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the recently released The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of Gods, which is scheduled for release in 2011) that prove those naysayers wrong. These novels are thoroughly entertaining and equally edifying... 

 

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