Today on the Writer’s Glossary
Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that uses a real world urban setting for its story. Most commonly, urban fantasy
uses a contemporary setting, but it can also use historical cities, such as Georgian London for Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The BBC television programme, Doctor Who, is probably the best known example of urban fantasy.
This genre mixes the familiar with the bizarre to explore ‘what if’ scenarios. What if demons lived under the Houses of Parliament or magic was real in the disco scene of 1970s New York? Distinguishing itself from traditional fantasy, which tends towards pseudo-medieval and epic landscape settings, urban fantasy eschews farmsteads, forests and taverns for city streets and nightclubs.
Over time, urban fantasy has been conflated with supernatural fiction, particularly vampire and werewolf romance, but this is only a small part of the genre, which can also feature demons, magic, fairies and more traditional fantasy elements, such as trolls and elves.