Urban Fantasy – Horror in camouflage?


Horror has become the elephant in the room which no one seems to like to acknowledge. In a previous entry, I said that there was apparently only one agent who dealt with horror and it could be potential career suicide trying to break out in the horror genre. If you look at the back of a Stephen King novel one will find that it has been classified as a thriller and Dean Koontz has an apoplexy every time someone calls him a horror writer and it makes you realise what a leper colony the genre has become.

Recently the guys involved with Writing Excuses did a podcast aimed at urban fantasy and they believe that horror had moved into urban fantasy and two other genres. The only other genre I can think of where it might have moved would be the paranormal romance genre, which is the habitat of novels like Twilight. I wonder what some of the screaming teenage girls would think if they knew they were reading something which would probably have been classified as a horror a few years ago?

I also mentioned in the previous entry that the difference between fantasy and horror could almost be boiled down to the simple fact that the protagonists in the fantasy stories were equipped to handle the monsters while in horror they weren’t. Several people stated that Bilbo and Frodo Baggins were not equipped to handle the monsters when they left the Shire, but they left or soon found people who were more than able to handle the monsters.

Sometimes though the name of the genre throws people off when they hear about urban fantasy and believe it has to be set in a city somewhere. While no expert, I have to admit that I don’t think this is the case as urban fantasy is more the melding of technology with magic in a modern setting. Maybe this is caused by the fact that some of the biggest names in urban fantasy are set in an urban setting, like Harry Dresden in Chicago while many urban fantasies are set in major cities like New York. But what’s to stop a story being set out on a farm far away from a built up city. I’ve never heard of rural fantasy before and I doubt there will ever be a sub-genre with that name.

But is horror really mashed into the urban fantasy stable?

I suppose it can be to a certain degree although it is horror that is vastly different from the horror people would expect. But would it be that difficult for the author to throw in some magical explanation so that it can fit into the genre? To be honest, I don’t think it’s that difficult.

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