first published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail 28 July 2007
In honour of all things Harry, the time seems right to talk about some of the recent, upcoming, and all-time-greats in fantasy romance.
When it comes to the different sub-genres under the romance umbrella, fantasy and paranormal are the ones most often read, but not understood, as romance novels. This is because romantic fantasy and paranormals, while conforming to the traditional definition of romance also adhere very strongly to the emerging urban fantasy and traditional high fantasy rules. Most fantasy epics have strong love stories within the narrative anyways, so a stronger emphasis is rarely noticed as enough to redefine the book into another genre.
Luckily for both romance and fantasy readers, paranormals don’t seem to be fading away. And riding on the coattails of this incredibly popular new sub-genre are the fantasy writers, enjoying a period of heightened recognition and success as people begin to seek stories outside the realms of the known.
Much like the movies, April to August represent the blockbuster season for books, with all the hot summer (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) releases coming out.
We started out with Karen Chance’s Claimed by Shadows, the follow-up to her debut novel Touch the Dark. Chance made my best-of-2006 list for Dark, and she only gains in strength with Shadows.
If Meljean Brooks slipped under your radar with her debut novel Demon Angel in January, run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick it up. And while you’re there, grab the follow-up Demon Moon which features one of my favourite characters from Angel and takes a bit of a twist on the vampire hero.
Fans of hotter romances might enjoy Witch Fire, Anya Bast’s debut novel. Her cover quote comes from Angela Knight, who incidentally also had a novel released in June, Master of Dragons, her latest in the Mageverse series.
For high fantasy, it’s hard to go past Jacqueline Carey. The founding precept to her world is Love as thou wilt; characters who do not follow their hearts pay immense prices. Her latest novel, Kushiel’s Justice is out in hardcover.
Another benefit to reading within fantasy and paranormal is the propensity of the writers to create series and linked books, meaning that readers are treated to longer, more complex stories about their favourite characters. Characters like Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson—part werewolf, part vampire, all fun. Set in Melbourne, Arthur’s 5th novel Embraced by Darkness is available in August. And, a word of warning, do try and get your hands on a North American cover. Unfortunately the Australian ones leave a little to be desired.
And, finally, just because I can’t write about fantasy without saying it one more time: Anne Bishop. Her Black Jewels Trilogy is about as close to perfect as you can get.