Friday, August 26, 2011

Urban Fantasy Heroines Have Seriously Messed Up Lives

One of the reasons I love to read Urban Fantasy is the strong female heroines. These women kick serious ass, often facing overwhelming odds to insure their survival and that of their friends and families. And in Urban Fantasy, there’s not always a guaranteed happy ever after. Sometimes you have to settle for a happy for now, or a “things aren’t as screwed up as usual” for now.
But there are some Urban Fantasy heroines whose lives are waaaaaay messed up, even more so than the norm. Some of these heroines are barely functioning addicts, which begs the question, can an author make an addict a sympathetic heroine? Here are three of my favorite urban fantasies with heroines who have seriously screwed up lives. They may be popping pills, but you’ll be surprised at how likeable they are and how much you want everything to work out for them.
Stacia Kane’s Unholy Ghosts (Downside #1)
The heroine of Kane’s Downside series, Chess Putnam, is probably the most messed up of these three heroines. She’s a highly functioning addict living in a world where ghosts attack humans and only members of the magical Church of Truth can help you get rid of them. Chess is a ghost debunker for the Church, working to send ghosts back to the underworld and protect humans. Unfortunately, she owes a ton of money to her dealer, Bump, so when he wants her to get fix the haunted airfield so he can fly in shipments of drugs she has no choice but to agree. As a child, Chess was tossed from foster home to foster home, dealing with physical and sexual abuse, so it’s no surprise that as an adult she tries to numb the pain of her dreary life with drugs and sex. Chess doesn’t make great choices in her personal life, but she takes great pride in her job as a debunker. What makes this book impressive is that you’ll like Chess and want her to succeed. This is a great start to fascinating series, and the first three books in the series are on sale at Amazon in anticipation of the fourth book’s release.
Stacey Jay’s On the Delta This takes place in a Louisiana taken over by mutant fairies whose bites are deadly. There are no cute flying pixies here, and to deal with her reality Annabelle Lee pops pills at night to sleep and is a functioning alcoholic by day. Annabelle has the good fortune to be immune to the fairy venom, but when a vicious murder occurs in her town and her ex-lover Hitch shows up with the FBI to investigate it, Annabelle hits a new low. Like Chess, Annabelle’s had a tough life and is using alcohol to dull the pain, but she’s capable of so much more than even she believes. You’ll definitely want everything to turn up roses for her, and I’m hoping that in the next book in the series her POS ex-lover Hitch gets what’s coming to him. We can always hope.
Diana Rowland’s My Life as a White Trash Zombie As much as I like Chess and Annabelle, I LOVE Angel Crawford. Angel’s a high school dropout with a pill problem, and the novel begins when she wakes up in the hospital after being discovered on the side of the road, covered in blood and nothing else. She doesn’t remember what happened to her, but an anonymous benefactor sends her a note that tells her to report to work at the morgue. It turns out that Angel’s been made into a zombie, and being a morgue tech gives her ample access to her new food source: brains. Over the course of the book Angel takes pride in her newly learned skills and friends, and she starts to make smarter choices. Her life as a zombie is complicated, but it’s the second chance she needed. Diana Rowland always writes taut plots with interesting characters, and I love that her female characters are working-class and complex. And frankly, the gross descriptions of Angel’s work in the morgue are just icing on the cake for this reader.


  1. Rhiannon Murphy from JA Saare's Rhiannon's Law series. Talk about messed up! I love her. then there is Joanna Archer from Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series.

  2. These series are both on my TBR pile. I've heard great things about them!