Just what is urban fantasy? This volume tries to define and illustrate this diverse catch all of fantastical stories decidedly not traditional fantasy. For such a broad subject, the anthology is well organized with three sections for three types of urban fantasy (although many stories could cross between): Mythic Fiction, Paranormal Romance, and Noir Fantasy. Each section opens with an essay about the subject, offering great insight into the genre and its evolution.
An essay by Charles DeLint opens the Mythic Fantasy section, and the stories included deliver on a sense of wonder and modern fantasy. "Julie's Unicorn" by Peter S. Beagle stick in my mind in this section, but there are also stories by DeLint, Neil Gaiman, Emma Bull and Jeffrey Ford. Paranormal Romance is second with an essay by Paula Guran. This is where I think the anthology falls short. While all the stories were great to read, I don't think they fit the title of paranormal romance. I had an expectation for romance and happy endings and these stories just didn't have that. The third section, Noir Fantasy, begins with Joe R. Lansdale's essay and brings the gritty and dark noir tradition to fantasy. This by far is my favorite section, "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black being my favorite.
The Urban Fantasy Anthology includes several big name authors-- Charles DeLint, Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Joe R. Lansdale, to name a few. While the Paranormal Romance section didn't live up to my expectations for cohesiveness, all of the stories are wonderful to read. I would recommend The Urban Fantasy Anthology to anyone who loves the darker side of the fantasy genre. This is one of the few title I would read over and over again.
The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale
Published by Tachyon Publications
The Urban Fantasy Anthology is available at Amazon.com
I received a free copy of The Urban Fantasy Anthology for my review.