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Contemporary Fantasy Booklist


Contemporary Fantasy - also known as urban or modern day fantasy - is a sub genre of fantasy. The titles on this booklist feature current real world or near future settings where magic intersects with the "real" world. These titles are strong on atmosphere and setting.


Lists of novels that received at least one starred review (indicating a work of unusual merit) from the following review sources: Booklist (BL), Publisher's Weekly (PW), Kirkus, and Library Journal (LJ) .

  • Dance for Emilia
    Author: Beagle, Peter S.
    Publisher: Roc $ 14.95 ISBN: 0451458001 Date: 2000
    Even lifelong friendships can outlast death--or can they? Award-winning author Peter S. Beagle presents a deeply personal story ofMay 29, 2009, and the strength it takes to let go.
  • The Folk of the Air
    Author: Beagle, Peter S.
    Publisher: Ballantine $ 16.95 ISBN: 0345337824 Date: 1986
    Updated 3.25.05
  • We Never Talk About My Brother
    Author: Beagle, Peter
    $ 14.95 ISBN: 9781892391834 Date: 2009
    starPW star Booklist
    Modern parables of love, death, and transformation are peppered with melancholy in this extraordinary collection of contemporary fantasy. Each short story cultivates a whimsical sense of imagination and reveals a mature, darker voice than previously experienced from this legendary author. In one tale the Angel of Death enjoys newfound celebrity while moonlighting as an anchorman on the network news, while in another the shortsighted ruler of a gentle realm betrays himself in dreaming of a "manageable war." Further storylines include an American librarian who discovers that, much to his surprise and sadness, he is the last living Frenchman, and rivals in a supernatural battle who decide to forgo pistols at dawn, choosing instead to duel with dramatic recitations of terrible poetry. Featuring several previously unpublished stories alongside a bevy of recently released works, this haunting compilation is appealing to both genre readers and mainstream literature lovers. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 2.26.09
  • The Gypsy
    Author: Brust, Steven
    Publisher: Tor $ 18.95 ISBN: 0312852746 Date: 1992
    Cigany is the gypsy, stalking the city in a cloud of magic. Stepovich is the seasoned cop, who keeps finding dead bodies in the gypsy's wake. The Fair Lady is Queen of the Underworld, drawing them both into her murderous web . . . until only the gypsy's broken memories stand between Stepovich's beloved city and the Lady's dark designs.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • War for the Oaks
    Author: Bull, Emma
    Publisher: St Martins $ 13.95 ISBN:0765300346 Date: 2001 (reissue)
    "A contemporary fantasy classic."--"Publishers Weekly"
    Guitarist Eddi McCandry has just dumped her boyfriend and their band when she finds herself running through the Minneapolis night, pursued by a sinister man and a huge, terrifying dog. As she soon discovers, the two creatures are one and the same: a phouka, a faerie being who has chosen Eddi to be the mortal pawn in the age-old war between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Eddi isn't interested--but she doesn't have a choice. For more than her own survival is at stake. To save the city--and the man--that she loves, Eddi must face off against the Dark Queen of the Unseelie Court in the ultimate duel of music and magic. - Publisher Marketing.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • The Wooden Sea
    Author: Carroll, Jonathan
    Publisher: Tor $23.95 ISBN: 03112878230 Date: 2001
    From the moment a three-legged dog limps into the life of Police Chief Frannie McCabe and drops dead at his feet, McCabe finds himself in a new world of disturbing miracles. His small town of Crane's View, New York, has long been a haven of harmony and comfort--but now he finds himself afflicted by the inexplicable, by omens that converge to throw his life into doubt. And what he does over the next few days may have consequences for the whole world.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Outside the Dog Museum
    Author: Carroll, Jonathan
    Publisher: Doubleday $ 20 ISBN: 0385419732 Date: 1992
    The acclaimed author of The Land of Laughs presents an astoundingly imaginative novel that traverses the fine line between our world and an invisible world of magic, in the story of a prize-winning architiect who is hired by a wealthy sultana to build a billion-dollar dog museum.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Little Big
    Author: Crowley, John
    Publisher: Bantam $ 8.95 ISBN: 0553012665 Date: 1981
    Little, Big tells the epic story of Smoky Barnable -- an anonymous young man who meets and falls in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, and goes to live with her in Edgewood, a place not found on any map. In an impossible mansion full of her relatives, who all seem to have ties to another world not far away, Smoky fathers a family and tries to learn what tale he has found himself in -- and how it is to end. - Publisher Marketing.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • The Art of Arrow Cutting
    Author: Dedman, Stephen
    Publisher: Tor $ 13.95 ISBN: 0312868324 Date: 1997
    Japanese mobsters and terrifying monsters chase an itinerant photographer after a desperate woman gives him a key in return for bus fare.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Widdershins
    Author: De Lint, Charles
    Publisher: Tor $ 27.95 ISBN: 0765312859 Date: 2006
    Introduced in the first Newford story, "Timeskip," Jilly Coppercorn and Geordie Riddell's story is finally being told in this stand-alone novel of fairy courts set in shopping malls and the Bohemian street scene of Newford's Crowsea area.
    Updated 3.16.06
  • Spirits in the Wires
    Author: De Lint, Charles
    Publisher: Tor $ 27.95 ISBN: 0312873980 Date: 2003
    Ancient magic and the Internet weave a spell in the latest Newford novel from urban fantasy master Charles de Lint.
    Updated 8.14.03
  • Someplace to Be Flying
    Author: De Lint, Charles
    Publisher: Tor Books $ 24.95 ISBN: 0312858493 Date: 1998
    star Kirkus
    Lily is a photojournalist, pursuing rumors of magical "animal people" living in the ruins of Newford's slums. Hank has always lived in those slums, creating a life and a family of friends in the places where upright citizens fear to tread. When Hank and Lily's lives collide, they discover the strange truth of the "animal people", who were the First People to walk this earth, and who walk among us even today: Coyote the Trickster, Jackdaw the Storyteller, Fox, Cuckoos, Raven, and the Crow Girls.
  • American Gods
    Author: Gaiman, Neil
    Publisher: Avon $ 26 ISBN: 0380973650 Date: 2001
    A master of inventive fiction pens the story of an ex-con who is offered a job as a bodyguard for Mr. Wednesday, a trickster and a rogue. Shadow soon learns that his role in the man's schemes are far more dangerous and dark than he could have ever imagined.
  • Neverwhere
    Author: Gaiman, Neil
    Publisher: Avon $ 24 ISBN: 0380973634 Date: 1997
    starKirkus | Booklist Editors' Choice
    Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. He must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • The Boys Are Back in Town
    Author: Golden, Christopher
    Publisher: Bantam $ 12 (paper) ISBN: 0553382071 Date: 2004
    Will James isn't looking forward to his tenth high school reunion. But what Will finds is a sort of alternative universe in which realities fade and "new" memories begin to block them out. This changed world of ever-shifting certainties threatens to remake the whole of the world--unless he can find a way to stop it.
    Updated 2.23.04
  • The Enchantment Emporium
    Author: Huff, Tanya
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780756405557 Date: 2009
    The bestselling author of the Blood Books delivers a masterful new urban fantasy. Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms it casts. But when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing, even calling in the family may not be enough.
    Updated 5.15.09
  • The Limits of Enchantment
    Author: Joyce, Graham
    Publisher: Atria $ 22 ISBN: 0743463447 Date: 2005
    This tale of midwifery, alchemy, magic, truth, and identity offers the story of two women: one with a deep past, and one who finds her history in the other.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Dark Sister
    Author: Joyce, Graham
    Publisher: Tor $ 22.95 ISBN: 0312866321 Date: 1999
    star PW star BL
    Alex and Maggie think they live in an ordinary townhouse, until they discover a diary containing secret Wiccan herb-lore - and awaken a malevolent force they can't control.
  • The Tooth Fairy
    Author: Joyce, Graham
    Publisher: Tor Books $ 22.95 ISBN: 031286261X Date: 1998
    star BL star Kirkus star PW
    The award-winning author of Requiem returns with a blackly comic, disturbingly erotic tale of an ordinary boy named Sam - and the unearthly being only he can see. Is she real - or is she just a figment of his turbulent imagination? All Sam knows, as he grows from childhood to adolescence, is that she is never very far away.

  • Gil's All Fright Diner
    Author: Martinez, A. Lee
    Publisher: Tor $ 24.95 ISBN: 0765311437 Date: 2005
    Bloodier than Fried Green Tomatoes! Funnier than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Welcome to Gil's All Night Diner, where zombie attacks are a regular occurrence and you never know what might be lurking in the freezer . . . - Publisher Marketing.
    Updated 3.21.05
  • Sunshine
    Author: McKinley, Robin
    Publisher: Berkeley $ 23.95 ISBN: 0425191788 Date: 2003
    Unfortunately, she wasn't alone. She never heard them coming. Of course she wouldn't, when they're vampires. A new direction for an already successful fantasy author.
    Updated 10.2.03
  • Earthquake Weather
    Author: Powers, Tim
    Publisher: Tor $ 24.95 ISBN: 031286163x Date: 1997
    Locus Award Winner Best Fantasy Novel
    Set in an imaginative alternate version of modern Los Angeles, Earthquake Weather begins with the murder of the Fisher King of the West, Scott Crane. His body is taken to the magically protected home of the Sullivans, and their 13-year-old adopted son, Koot, a boy destined to be the next Fisher King. But for now, he must aid in reuniting Scott Crane's body and spirit, and restoring him to life.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Expiration Date
    Author: Powers, Tim
    Publisher: Tor $ 23.95 ISBN: 03112860862 Date: 1996
    PW Editors' Choice
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Last Call
    Author: Powers, Tim
    Publisher: Morrow $ 23 ISBN: 068810732X Date: 1992
    Set in Las Vegas, Last Call concerns the fate of Scott Crane, former professional gambler, recent widower, blind in one eye--and also the lost natural son of the man who is determined to kill him. In this novel, Crane is forced to resume the high-stakes game of a lifetime--and wager it all.
    Updated 3.25.05
  • Bad to the Bone
    Author: Smith-Ready, Jeri
    $ 15 ISBN: 9781416551782 Date: 2009
    star PW
    The sassy, sexy, and strikingly original follow-up to Smith-Ready's urban fantasy Wicked Game stars a feisty woman with a criminal past who takes a job at a radio station populated by vampire DJs.
    Suggested Reading: Vampires
    Updated 3.31.09
  • Perfect Circle
    Author: Stewart, Sean
    Publisher: Small Beer $ 24 ISBN: 1931520070 Date: 2004
    A novel about Texas, ghosts and perfect pop songs.
    Updated 6.10.04
  • Galveston
    Author: Stewart, Sean
    Publisher: Ace $ 23.95 ISBN: 0441006868 Date: 2000
    The island of Galveston had been baptized twice - once by water in the fall of 1900 and again by magic during Mardi Gras, 2004. Creatures were born of survivors' joy and sufferers' pain: scorpions the size of dogs, the crying clown, the widow who ate her victims. Galveston forever would be divided between reality and a city locked in an endless Mardi Gras.
  • The Night Watch
    Author: Stewart, Sean
    Publisher: Ace $ 21.95 ISBN: 0441004458 Date: 1997
    Updated 3.28.05
  • The Mysteries
    Author: Tuttle, Lisa
    Publisher: Spectra $ 21 ISBN: 0553382969 Date: 2005
    From award-winning author Lisa Tuttle comes a riveting novel that combines the contemporary story of one man's search for a missing young woman with history's most enduring legends of the disappeared.
    Updated 1.19.05
  • Silver Bough
    Author: Tuttle, Lisa
    Publisher: Spectra $ 22 ISBN: 0553382977 Date: 2006
    The acclaimed author of The Mysteries returns with another stylish and haunting contemporary fantasy. After a landslide blocks the only passage from a remote Scottish village--where residents are already cut off from the wider world--old legends begin to come to life.
    Updated 4.10.06
  • Additional Authors of Interest:
  • Mercedes Lackey
  • Holly Lisle
  • Charles Williams

Links: A Contemporary Fantasy Reading List - Endicott Studios