This is a continuation and expansion of a discussion started over on Facebook, which was kickstarted by this summary of Carousel Sun:
Urban fantasy novel, sequel to Carousel Tides (2010), about a woman who returns to a small town in Maine and becomes involved in a faerie war. (Locus Monitor — New Books, 4 February)
There are a couple of things wrong with the above. Most notably, Carousel Sun isn’t Urban Fantasy, because it takes place in Maine, and it does not take place in Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn, or Portland, which are the three “urban” areas in the whole state, according to the Federal Government.
I’m also wondering where they got this “faerie war.”
We thought we’d be OK by calling the Carousel books “contemporary fantasy,” but apparently “contemporary fantasy” means something Very Definite to some people. (To me, “contemporary fantasy” means “a fantasy story that takes place Right Now.”)
So, I’ve been giving some thought to how best to describe these books, as much in order to guide readers who would like this kind, as warn away those readers who come in thinking they’re getting A Specific Thing that the books don’t deliver. (Like, oh, “faerie wars.”)
Now, the best I can come up with as a sub-genre is “mundane fantasy.” Kate, after all, doesn’t get a free pass on anything for being Guardian — it’s Added Responsibility for which she goes uncompensated (cue Superman’s Song). Fercryinoutloud, Gaby collects returnables, and I don’t see Borgan flyin’ no yacht. Felsic’s crew — wait, do you guys have Felsic yet? Anyhow, it’s not like any of these folks are living high in the fancy condos; they’re working people, doing their jobs.
So, like I said: “mundane fantasy” or maybe “blue collar” fantasy, though there has been some concern expressed that, while these come close, they don’t quite Nail It.
Summing up, the points for discussion are:
1. What are your expectations of “contemporary fantasy”
2. If you had to tighten the classification for the Carousel books (Tides and Sun), what phrase would you use? Please try to avoid spoilers for the books.
Have at it!