Posts Tagged With: urban fantasy

Top 10 Fantasy Book Trends of 2010

I’ve been tracking the top 5 books in the fantasy category on Amazon’s bestseller list for a while now, and I figured I could pull some interesting data from the weekly posts.

This is the second in a series of Top 10 posts covering the fantasy industry. Last week, we covered the Top 10 Fantasy Books of 2010. Next week, we cover the Top 10 Fantasy Books for 2011.

Kindle vs. Hardcover

I’ve only been tracking formats since September, but this is still 33% of the year’s worth of data. Starting on September 5, 2010, and reviewing the data weekly, 48 times Kindle editions of books were in the top 5, and only 37 times hardcover editions of books made the top 5. One interesting note here: Kindle sales were stronger in September and October, then as Thanksgiving rolled around, hardcover sales surged. But, once we got to the final week of the year, the day after Christmas marked the first week where all five novels in the top 5 list were Kindle editions. An inkling of what’s to come in the new year?

Epic Fantasy vs. Urban Fantasy

In the epic vs. urban smack-down urban fantasy wins, hands down. Urban fantasy novels appeared in the top 5 a whopping 198 times, to only 43 for epic fantasy. Epic fantasy was helped tremendously by the Jordan/Sanderson novels, but it just wasn’t enough to come close. Even though we see a traditional spike of epic fantasy sales around Christmas every year, urban fantasy is riding strong from 2010 into 2011.

Most Weeks at #1

Towers of Midnight spent the most weeks in the #1 spot, with 16. Second was Dead in the Family, with 11 weeks. Tied for third were Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer, and Dead Witch Walking, by Kim Harrison. Rounding out the top 5 novels in #1 for the most weeks was Bite Me, with two weeks in first place. The following novels all grabbed first place for one week only: A Game of Thrones, No Mercy, The Legend of Sigurd & Godrum, Calling Home, Changes, Once Bitten, Wit’ch Fire and Eclipse.

Longest Streak at #1

Towers of Midnight spent 14 weeks at #1, from September 5 through December 19, showing that even with the influx of urban and vampire fantasy, traditional epic fantasy still holds a place in fans’ hearts. Second was Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris with 7 weeks at #1, and third was Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison with 6 weeks at #1.

Longest Streak in Top 5 (any position)

Amazingly, both Dead in the Family and Breaking Dawn tied, for spending 33 consecutive weeks in the top 5 each. In second place for this category is Towers of Midnight, which spent 19 consecutive weeks in the top 5 list.

Categories: Top 10, Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Book review of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere


It can be tough reviewing a book that has been turned into a movie or tv series. Luckily, I’ve never seen the Neverwhere tv series, so this review isn’t influenced by images of characters painted on screen, rather than in my head. Neil Gaiman is possibly most well known for his work on The Sandman graphic novel series. Neverwhere is his first solo novel, although he co-authored a book in 1990 with fantasy author Terry Pratchett. I’m not actually sure which came first, the tv series or the novel for Neverwhere; they were both released at the same time in 1996. I haven’t read his Sandman comics, but I had high hopes coming into reading Neverwhere, based solely on the popularity of the comic series.

Neverwhere presents a wonderful world where the line between reality and a sort of subterranean alter-reality blur. The book’s main character, Richard Mayhew, works in an office, is engaged, and is basically an average guy. It is this premise that the novel toys with; the drudgery of living out a mundane life of 9 to 5 office work, starkly contrasted with a world where rats are supreme beings, a fantastic moving marketplace can be held at night in strange city locations, and the scenes shift from strange trains in the London underground to hobos making their abode on the rooftops of skyscrapers.

The cast of characters is as entertaining as it is eccentric. Richard and Door, the other main character, are constantly pursued by a pair of classic baddies: Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. They are protected by Hunter, a fierce female bodyguard, and are involved with The Angel Islington, an angel that in one scene serves them possibly the most potent wine in all creation. This is just the upper echelon of characters; there are plenty of well fleshed out supporting characters.

The characters in this alter-reality are not typically able to be seen by people living in the real world. They can get their attention if they try hard enough, but even when they accomplish this feat the people in the real world tend to forget they exist in a heartbeat; its like they don’t exist. There is a wonderful scene where Richard and Door attend an art gallery, as it is the entrance to the path that leads to The Angel Islington, and Richard’s finance is at the gallery, organizing an event for her company. The idea of individuals that exist in a world parallel to our reality, but seem to be just out of reach is painted vividly here.

Gaiman’s prose is like devilish poetry at times:

The carriage smelled like a morgue might at the end of a long, hot summer during the course of which the refrigeration equipment had failed for good.

and just plain hilarious at others:

Ruislip, the Fop’s opponent, resembled a bad dream one might have if one fell asleep watching Sumo wrestling with a Bob Marley record playing in the background. He was a huge Rastafarian who looked nothing so much as an obese and enormous baby.

Neverwhere is an original world, with a host of original characters and an extremely satisfying ending. Neil Gaiman’s ability to create a world that seems just out of reach is incredible, and he offers a bit of fantasy that just about anyone will identify with. This is a wonderful novel for fantasy fans; those with a healthy library of urban fantasy or those just tasting the genre for the first time.

You can pick up Neverwhere over at

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 8 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Neil Gaiman, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Book review of Jim Butcher’s Storm Front


Urban fantasy is on fire. Over the past two years, it seems that all you hear about in the fantasy book arena is how urban fantasy is taking over the genre. I’ve traditionally been more of an epic fantasy fan, but I decided to try my hand at a bit of urban fantasy. I flew through two books that seemed like good starting points for the genre: Storm Front by Jim Butcher and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. With the eleventh book in the series, Turn Coat, released in 2009, Jim Butcher’s series The Dresden Files is wildly popular, and has been recommended to me by a few friends. Neverwhere is Gaiman’s first novel, after years of fame coming from his Sandman comic book series. Both weigh in a little over 300 pages, and I flew through both. I’ll give my take of Storm Front here, and be sure that a Neverwhere review is coming soon.

I have to say that urban fantasy overall is a nice break from the doorstops I typically consume. Storm Front is not my first urban fantasy, having read  Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code years ago.

Butcher possesses great skill with description:

The house is full of creaks and sighs and settling boards, and time and lives have worn their impressions into the wood and brick. I can hear all the sounds, all the character of the place, above and around me all through the night. It’s an old place, but it sings in the darkness and is, in its own quirky little way, alive. Its home.

a bit of a comic perspective:

She was driving me crazy. That voice of hers inspired the kind of dreams you wish you could remember more clearly in the morning. Her expression promised to show me things that you don’t talk about with other people, if I would give her half a chance. Your job, Harry. Think about your job. Some days I really hate my job.

as well as the ability to truly inspire self-doubt in his characters:

Have you ever felt despair? Absolute hopelessness? Have you ever stood in the darkness and known, deep in your heart, in your spirit, that it was never, ever going to get better? That something had been lost, forever, and that it wasn’t coming back?

These different abilities shine through in a novel that is written with direct speech, similar to The Gunslinger by Stephen King. His main character, Harry Dresden, is a likable guy; he’s just a regular working class dude. With a bit of magic on his side. Butcher is able to work magic into an urban setting in a believable manner, although I think the originality of the magic system in Mistborn still remains on top. The magic system relies on different ingredients, partially on the weather, and partially on the random mix of items that, suggested by Harry’s talking skull, go into his different potions.

Harry gets himself into all kinds of predicaments, and this novel moves along at a brisk pace. Here you’ll find more action than much else, although I wouldn’t classify this as a 100% action novel. There are a number of great supporting cast members here, from Murphy, the woman on the police force who calls in Harry for different case work, to a sword-wielding sorcerer who is the enforcer of the White Council’s (the governing body of magic) rules. In addition, we see a number of great baddies, from giant scorpions to squat demons, and even a few mob thugs mixed in for good measure.

Storm Front is a very entertaining urban fantasy, and a great start to The Dresden Files series. Harry Dresden is a real character; you feel for him. He goes down to the corner bar when he needs to work out a few issues, and has to work a nine to five just to pay his rent. I should mention that although the novel itself is light and a very quick read, it definitely contains adult subject matter. If you’re looking for a novel where you can identify with any of these aspects, with a bit of crime-solving action thrown into the mix, then Storm Front is definitely for you.

You can pick up Storm Front over at

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 7 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

Categories: Jim Butcher, Reviews, The Dresden Files | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments