When I began reading fantasy, I cut my teeth on such series as Feist’s Riftwar Saga, Weis & Hickman’s Chronicles trilogy, Rawn’s Dragon Prince trilogy, and Jordan’s Wheel of Time. The thrill of experiencing another author’s world, of seeing life through strange and foreign eyes, kept me up late reading by flashlight beneath the covers. I dreamed of flying on the back of time travelling dragons and falling in love with dark wizards. For years, I strenuously avoided reading any book remotely mentioning “Earth” – an error which kept the wonders of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings from me for far too long.
Growing up, what I craved was a sense of being far away. Reading a fantasy novel was, in a sense, running away from home. It didn’t matter that I had loving parents and good teachers; I still craved leaving, mired in a sense that the space I inhabited was lacking…something. It would be years before I realized what.
Urban fantasy whisked me out of my head and into the streets of the real world. I fell in love with vampires and learned to keep a toothpick handy ** just in case. ** Demons lurked around every corner, waiting to prey on the innocent. Crystals became more than simply pretty rocks and magic, no matter how it was spelled, was within my grasp. Urban fantasy showed me that our world is interesting, too. It taught me how to look around and see magic instead of the mundane. That sometimes mysterious things happen.
Most of all, however, urban fantasy taught me that it can be pretty awesome to be a girl. That’s what I was really missing. No longer was I reading books steeped in men and male adventure, where women were periphery or in need of constant rescue. Urban fantasy showed me that girls are strong. Capable. We can go to the dance and kick some demon ass and fall in love and then kill him if he turns on us. We can rescue family members or save the world or destroy it. We can lead. Simply put: girls rock.
So thanks Buffy and Hermione and Anita and Dante Valentine and Katniss and Mercy Thompson and Clary and a thousand other seriously awesome women. You’re why urban fantasy rocks.