What is “paranormal fantasy” exactly, as opposed to, say, “fantasy?” Paul seems to be using it to encompass contemporary fiction with supernatural elements, including horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance — but apparently not science fiction, or secondary world fantasy. Here’s Paul’s loose attempt at a definition:
We are in the midst of a glorious Golden Age of paranormal fantasy — the last ten years, specifically, in genre fiction have been nothing short of landscape-changing. The days of rigidly defined categories (romance, fantasy, horror, etc.) are long gone. Today, genre-blending novels reign supreme: narratives with virtually limitless potential that freely utilize elements of fantasy, romance, mystery, horror, and science fiction…
The list below includes 20 novels that are not only extraordinarily good, but have also dramatically influenced — and continue to influence — the course of the genre.
A bold claim, but I think he’s not far off. As the years go by, fantasy has seeped inexorably into the mainstream — witness the success of Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Twilight, etc — and writers of all genres seem to be dipping into the fantasy pool with fewer reservations. The result is a public that accepts zombie westerns and modern-day vampire mysteries without batting an eye.
Regardless of how much you want to read into Paul’s list, you’ll find plenty of good reading on it, including books by Cherie Priest, Seanan McGuire, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Kat Richardson, Marcus Pelegrimas, Stacia Kane, Jim Butcher, and Richard Kadrey.
Check out the complete list here.