Urban fantasy is a phenomenon. Ten years ago, it was hardly there at all. Now you can’t move on Amazon without tripping over it. Everyone’s getting into the act, even authors like Tad Williams, who’ve been solidly epic-fantasy, and old books that fit the genre (like George R.R. Martin’s Armaggeddon Rag) are being reissued.
Why is it so popular?
Personally, I think it’s because it fits what we need. Life is increasingly stressful, increasingly difficult (when did a day last go by without you hearing the word ‘recession’?), increasingly grey.
We used to be happy to go off to whole new worlds built by authors, but now we’re tied down with the mortgage, the kids, the car payments, and all that sort of thing. We’re stressed out of our heads and we can’t cope with that kind of travel. What we really want to feel is that the magic is here. We don’t have to go a long way, let alone to another world, to find it. It’s right here, if only we could see it.
It doesn’t matter if we, personally, don’t encounter the magic – it’s enough that we can kid ourselves that Harry Dresden and Rachel Morgan are out there, doing battle with the Forces of Evil and trying to make the rent.
And we might encounter the magic.
If not today, then maybe tomorrow.