Monday, 26 September 2011

Fantasy Intrudes on Real Life

I was trying to figure out what to write about this weekend and was kind of at a loss. I thought I should just update on my current reading, one of which is Tanya Huff's Blood Books (Vol 2), when I had an idea. (Lucky me, eh?) As I was thinking about the book and how it portrays a common day detective mystery with Fantasy elements thrown in (that being Vampire Henry), I started thinking of the other series I've read that have the same elements. So there you have it, my topic for tonight - series that combine fantasy with the normal, day-to-day life. I don't think I've described that very well, but maybe I'll be able to do that a bit better as I get into this. (Of course, my list is quite limited, to those series that I'm familiar with, of course).

BtVS Graphic Novels

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
 The first series I read any of were the books and comics (graphic novels) based on the TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The TV series was probably one of the best and most innovative TV shows ever produced. The fans were loyal and fanatic, the plots unique, funny, scary, a show that drew you in completely.

Over time, the graphic novels and books enhanced the Buffy-verse, adding to its reputation and telling stories that maybe wouldn't translate into the TV media. I've concentrated mainly on the graphic novels; Episode 1 of Season 9 has just come out and I'm looking forward to getting into that.

I've read a few of the books; my personal favourite being The Gatekeeper Trilogy. I found the concept fascinating; in fact, it reminded me somewhat of Stephen King's Talisman. The concept of travelling across America, in fact, around the world via the Ghost Roads, a parallel world where the ghosts live and travel, struck my fancy.

But back to my initial premise for this Blog, the idea of fantasy intruding on everyday life, well, BtVS demonstrates that perfectly. An ordinary school girl, a cheerleader and her nerdy friends, become involved in saving the world from all sorts of demons; vampires, werewolves, etc, who enter Sunnydale from the Hellmouth. The series, as created by Joss Whedon, and the follow-on books and graphic novels demonstrated this concept in an exciting, enthralling fashion.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
 Being totally into the BtVS series, I think I was receptive to this type of story and Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake books definitely fit the bill. I saw them in Ottawa one day as I was wandering through the Cole's Bookstore in St Laurent Shopping Center and the concept grabbed my interest right away.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Anita Blake lives in St. Louis and works as a necromancer; her job being to raise the newly dead when families or business acquaintances wish to appeal against wills or for other reasons. As a sideline, Anita also works for the newly formed Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, of the St. Louis Police Department, which is charged with investigating supernatural crimes. In this society, vampires and other supernatural beings are now permitted to co-exist with the humans, as long as they follow the same laws as humans do.

So you can see once again, supernatural beings living side by side with everyday humanity, but with the clashes that such a situation engenders. Anita, somewhat like Buffy, is more than just a mere human; she is also a necromancer and over time, as the series progresses, becomes mistress to the local Master of the City, the vampire Jean-Claude, and also becomes involved with his pet, werewolf, Richard. The series is much more adult than the Buffy books; as each story came out, the violence is stronger, the sex more potent. The series was fascinating and had a wide spread following, many people I recommended it too also became hooked on the books.

Laurell Hamilton also writes the Merry Gentry series, a similar idea, but instead of a vampire hunter, the main female character is a princess of faerie, who tries to hide out in the real, human world, while her family stalk her and her companions to bring her back home, or maybe just to get rid of her. I'm not as familiar with this series, but you may also find it interesting.

Sookie Stackhouse
 Next in line is a series I find somewhat similar in some ways to the Anita Blake books, most specifically the fact that the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, becomes involved with a vampire and a werewolf. The books, written by Charlaine Harris, have become a successful TV series, True Blood, starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. Also like the Anita Blake books, they are very sexy and very violent.

Sookie lives in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps and works as a waitress in Werewolf Bill's restaurant and bar. For a small town, there are surprisingly a large variety of supernatural beings and Sookie, who, it turns out is a telepath, becomes intrinsically involved with all of them. It's a fascinating series, well-written and even with the similarities to Laurell Hamilton's books, stands on its own. Well worth reading (as you can see, I still have a few of them on my To-Be-Read shelves).

The Blood Books
 At the start of this, I mentioned the series I'm currently reading; written by Canadian writer, Tanya Huff, it's the Blood Books. The series portrays the adventures of ex-police officer, now detective, Vicki Nelson. In the four books I've read so far, Vicki is involved with werewolves, Egyptian gods and zombies. She is assisted in her investigations by ex - partner, Mike Celluci and her vampire lover, Henry Fitzroy.

The stories are set in Toronto or the surrounding areas and human Vicki must cope with the jealousy between her supernatural and human lovers and at the same time try to solve the supernatural mysteries she finds herself involved with.

The books have been translated into a short-lived TV series, Blood Ties, starring Christina Cox as Vicki Nelson. I enjoyed the series and have enjoyed the books I've read so far. There remain one move collection, Blood Books, Volume III in this series.

The Dresden Files

Fool Moon
 Before I started to read the books of The Dresden Files series, I watched the TV series of the same name, which starred Paul Blackthorne as wizard/ Private investigator, Harry Dresden. I found the series, which unfortunately was cancelled after one season, to be humorous, entertaining and well-crafted with interesting characters.

I've only recently begun to read the series, having completed Storm Front and Fool Moon, so far. All I can say is 'I like it!' The stories are well-paced, the characters interesting, the demons that Harry becomes involved with, different and exciting. I particularly like his partner in crime, Police Lt Connie Murphy and his spirit friend, Bob.

There is a nice humour intermixed with the sometimes scary incidents that Harry gets into the middle of. Once again, you have an individual, this time a wizard of the Fae courts, trying to live amongst humans, set in Chicago, who finds himself both a target of demons from Fae and who tries to help both demons and humans with their problems. It's an excellent series.

The Vampire Files
 The final series is one I've only read a couple of books in. The Vampire Files are written by P.N Elrod.

The series is a hard-boiled mystery series set in 1930's Chicago and features Private Investigator Jack Fleming, who also happens to be a vampire.

The series, which contains 13 books, also features Jack's partner, Charles Escott and his girlfriend, Bobbi Smythe. Jack's first case is solving his own murder.

This series is quite different in tone and style from the others that I highlighted but is also very interesting and different and worth reading.

If you like a good fantasy story, you might want to try these out.

Keep on reading!

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