Urban Fantasy Creatures and Beings: A Guide to the Magical Inhabitants of the Genre
Urban Fantasy Creatures and Beings: A Guide to the Magical Inhabitants of the Genre
By Neal Martin/ March 30, 2023
Last Updated April 26, 2023
Urban fantasy is a genre rich with magical creatures and beings living alongside humans in modern settings. These fascinating inhabitants captivate readers with their unique abilities, complex relationships, and engaging stories.
This blog post will introduce and describe some of the most popular and lesser-known urban fantasy creatures and beings, as well as their roles in some of the most beloved urban fantasy series.
Vampires are among the most iconic urban fantasy creatures, known for their supernatural strength, speed, and immortality. They typically require the blood of humans or other beings to survive, and their role in urban fantasy stories often revolves around their struggle to coexist with or prey upon humanity. Popular urban fantasy series featuring vampires include the “Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” series by Laurell K. Hamilton, “The Sookie Stackhouse Series” by Charlaine Harris, and “The Vampire Chronicles” by Anne Rice.
Werewolves and Shapeshifters
Werewolves and shapeshifters are other common creatures in urban fantasy, known for their ability to transform from human to animal form. Werewolves are usually bound to the form of a wolf, while shapeshifters can assume a variety of animal forms. Their stories often explore themes of identity, loyalty, and the struggle between their human and animal natures. Popular urban fantasy series featuring werewolves and shapeshifters include the “Mercy Thompson Series” by Patricia Briggs, “The Kate Daniels Series” by Ilona Andrews, and “The Otherworld Series” by Kelley Armstrong.
Fae and Fairies
The Fae, also known as fairies, are magical beings that encompass a wide range of species and abilities. They often hail from otherworldly realms and can possess a variety of magical powers. In urban fantasy, they typically interact with humans in secretive and mysterious ways, weaving complex webs of intrigue and enchantment. Popular urban fantasy series featuring fae and fairies include the “Fever Series” by Karen Marie Moning, “The October Daye Series” by Seanan McGuire, and “The Iron Fey Series” by Julie Kagawa. Also “The Colin McCool Series” by M.D. Massey.
Witches and Warlocks
Witches and warlocks are humans who possess magical abilities, often through innate talent or the study of arcane arts. They can wield a wide array of spells, enchantments, and magical items, and their stories frequently explore themes of power, responsibility, and the consequences of their actions. Popular urban fantasy series featuring witches and warlocks include “The Hollows Series” by Kim Harrison, “The All Souls Trilogy” by Deborah Harkness, and “The Alex Craft Series” by Kalayna Price.
Demons and Angels
Demons and angels represent the polar opposites of good and evil in many urban fantasy stories. These beings often possess incredible power and are usually part of a complex hierarchy within their respective realms. Their stories can explore themes of redemption, temptation, and the balance between light and darkness. Popular urban fantasy series featuring demons and angels include “The Sandman Slim Series” by Richard Kadrey, “The Guild Hunter Series” by Nalini Singh, and “The Black Sun’s Daughter Series” by M.L.N. Hanover. Also check out my dark urban fantasy “Ethan Drake Series” for full on demon action.
Ghosts and Spirits
Ghosts and spirits are the souls of deceased individuals, often lingering in the mortal world due to unresolved issues or strong emotions. They can possess a variety of abilities, from simple communication with the living to powerful poltergeist-like activity. Their stories often revolve around the resolution of their past lives or the mysteries surrounding their deaths. Popular urban fantasy series featuring ghosts and spirits include the “Charlie Madigan Series” by Kelly Gay, “The Ghost Seer Series” by Victoria Laurie, and “The Downside Ghosts Series” by Stacia Kane.
Lesser-Known Creatures and Beings
In addition to the more familiar urban fantasy creatures, the genre also features a variety of lesser-known beings that add depth, intrigue, and diversity to the stories. Here are a few examples of these fascinating creatures and their unique characteristics:
Also known as genies, djinn are magical beings with the power to grant wishes, manipulate elements, and shape reality. They are often associated with Middle Eastern folklore and can be bound to objects, such as lamps or rings. Djinn can be benevolent, malevolent, or neutral, making their role in urban fantasy stories highly unpredictable and compelling. The “Weather Warden Series” by Rachel Caine is an excellent example of an urban fantasy series that features djinn.
Originating from Native American folklore, skinwalkers are shapeshifters who can assume the form of any animal they choose. In urban fantasy, skinwalkers often struggle with their dual nature and may use their abilities for either good or evil purposes. “The Jane Yellowrock Series” by Faith Hunter is a popular urban fantasy series that explores the world of skinwalkers.
These stone-like beings are often depicted as protectors or guardians, perched on the edges of buildings and watching over the inhabitants below. In urban fantasy, gargoyles can come to life and possess supernatural strength and durability. Their stories often explore themes of duty, loyalty, and the balance between their stone and living forms. “The Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles” by Rebecca Chastain is a series that features gargoyles as central characters.
Descendants of angels and humans, Nephilim are hybrid beings with a mix of human and angelic abilities. They often find themselves caught in the middle of the eternal struggle between angels and demons, seeking to find their place and purpose in the world. The “Mortal Instruments Series” by Cassandra Clare is a well-known urban fantasy series that delves into the lives of Nephilim. Also check out my “Nephilim Rising Series.”
Changelings are beings that can either be born as a result of a union between humans and supernatural creatures, such as the Fae, or created through magical means. They possess a mix of human and supernatural traits and abilities, often struggling with their dual identity and the challenges it presents. The “October Daye Series” by Seanan McGuire is an urban fantasy series that features changelings as central characters.
Practitioners of the dark arts, necromancers possess the ability to communicate with and manipulate the dead. They can raise the deceased as undead servants, summon spirits, and even control the life force of living beings. In urban fantasy, necromancers often walk a fine line between good and evil, struggling with the moral implications of their powers. The “Eric Carter Series” by Stephen Blackmoore is a gripping urban fantasy series that follows a necromancer protagonist.
Originating from Japanese folklore, kitsune are fox spirits with shape-shifting abilities and magical powers. They can take on human form and often use their cunning and trickery to manipulate events in the human world. Urban fantasy stories featuring kitsune explore themes of duality, deception, and the blurred lines between human and supernatural worlds. The “Kitsune Tales” by Laura Resnick is a series that delves into the realm of kitsune in urban fantasy.
The diverse array of creatures and beings in urban fantasy offers readers an engaging and immersive experience, transporting them to worlds where magic and the supernatural coexist with the familiar modern landscape. From vampires and werewolves to lesser-known beings like djinn and skinwalkers, these magical inhabitants capture our imagination and keep us coming back for more. As you explore the urban fantasy genre, be sure to keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures and the stories they inhabit. The possibilities are truly endless, and there’s always a new adventure waiting just around the corner.
What are some of your favorite urban fantasy creatures? Let me know in the comments.
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