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Third Person Urban Fantasy

Updated on August 18, 2012

Third person urban fantasy? I wish I had more to add to the conversation. I've read a few, if we stretch the term of urban fantasy, but it seems a good amount is written in first person. Part of this, I think, might be due to the need to have the main character be discovering the fantasy part of the world as we go along. By doing it in first person, there's a way to make the revelation of fantasy seem even stranger. Still, with my limited knowledge, I will now suggest three books that I think stand as urban fantasy, and meet the third person criteria.

Old and new gods collide.
Old and new gods collide.

American Gods follows the story of an ex-convict named Shadow as he discovers his wife is dead. He meets up with the Norse god Odin and throughout the story, learns that many of the old gods are alive and living under our noses. What Neil Gaiman explains is that these gods were brought over to America when others traveled to the continent. But, as beliefs in America disappear, the gods grew weak and most are now just scrounging to get by. The plot of the book follows the struggle between these old gods and the new gods, such as Internet and Television. I liked the book, and there are powerful moments in the story, but it just didn't click for me. I enjoyed seeing certain gods in new roles or the idea that Internet is now a god. Still, I feel this is a good example of urban fantasy.


One of my favorites.
One of my favorites.

Neverwhere is one of my all-time favorites. I read this book after American Gods and was much happier with this. It reads more like Gaiman's Sandman comics (which is a strong contender for urban fantasy) and it has some of the more likable characters to come in a long time. There is a whole world under the streets of London, of dark magic and angels, of great hunters and mad kings. It's a murder mystery, in a sense, but it's also a story of a man learning to be more than he's been. The world of Neverwhere is charming and fun, but dangerous. There is death, often extremely painful and there are monsters that hide in the dark but London is always right above. This books is waiting for Gilliam Del Toro to make a movie out of it. Highly recommended (and third person as well).

Something about England...
Something about England...

The Harry Potter books, I believe, are urban fantasy. The magical world interacts with our world many times and is hidden in strange spots among our own. While not my favorite series, I loved it when I was younger (and then moved on). But with most of the books opening with Harry's magic world knocking up against the normal world, I'm hard pressed not to see this as urban fantasy. The whole series is told in third person and never loses that sense of secrecy from the "muggle" world.

Am I leaving something out? Suggestions? Let me know because odds are I need to read it!

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    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Informative article. Urban fantasies are up and coming actually... Twilight is an urban fantasy. Harry Potter is actually considered High Fantasy as the majority of the books take place in the magical realm where Hogwarts resides. The other world, or our world does exists outside or parallel to it. Umm... yeah. I don't know much about urban fantasies, but I do want to read some one of these days. Do you have any additional ones you'd like to recommend?

    • Eric Mikols profile image
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      Eric Mikols 4 years ago from New England

      I was just listing the ones that use third person narrative. Anything by Neil Gaiman tends to be heavy urban fantasy. I'm not sure if the Dark Tower books count since they bounce between worlds, but I haven't got far enough to see. It's a subgenre that's still kind of young. I might be inclined to say books like The Borrowers and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NYMH as well.

    • cathymadson profile image

      Cathy Madson 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Interesting recommendations. I haven't heard of Neil Gaiman before, but I'm going to check out his books!

      It is definitely hard to find an Urban Fantasy written from the omniscient or third-person limited viewpoint - I'm currently trying to write my own UF novel from the omniscient viewpoint and sometimes I wish I'd just given in and written from first person. It's much easier I think.

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