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10 “Rural Fantasy” Series You Need to Read

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Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris // VBCA few weeks ago Chelsea posted her list of essential Urban Fantasy series. It’s a good list. I’ve read and enjoyed all of those series. But I felt like there was one glaring omission. My gateway to urban fantasy was the Sookie Stackhouse series, so any UF list I made would have started there. When I asked Chelsea about it she said that Sookie defies many typical UF conventions, first and foremost with its rural setting.

So being the smartass that I am, I had to make a companion list of essential “Rural Fantasy.” I don’t love that description, in part because it could describe The Shire just as easily as Bon Temps. I usually call them Southern Gothic, though I could (and will) name a few set elsewhere. So maybe we’ll call them small-town urban fantasy?

Whatever you call them, here are ten more essential urban fantasy series with small town settings:

1. The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
I did say that any list I made would start with Sookie. The telepathic waitress crosses paths with vampires, weres, witches and fae while solving mysteries in Bon Temps, Louisiana.
VBC Chelsea’s Ultimate Ranking of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries books.

2. The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep
Quintessentially Southern with its focus on food and family, this series follows Gin Blanco, BBQ restaurant owner by day, magic wielding assassin by night, as she navigates the Ashland, North Carolina underworld. Estep adds supernaturally strong dwarves and giants to the usual vampires for an interesting twist on the UF world.
VBC review of Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin #1)

3. The Jane True series by Nicole Peeler
Jane True loves her Converse and her job at the bookstore in Rockabill, Maine. One day she discovers that she’s half fae and gets a crash course in the supernatural. Peeler introduces a great mix of unusual paranormal creatures in this series.
VBC review of Tempest Rising (Jane True #1)

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost4. The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
Cat Crawfield lives with her mother on land near the family orchard in Licking Falls, Ohio. At night she goes to bars and hunts vampires. When I think about rural, this is one of the first series that comes to mind. Cat and Bones seem to spend a lot of time driving somewhere. Later in the series, they move to a scenic Smoky Mountain home that also says rural, but in a different way.
VBC review of Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress #1)

5. The Midnight, Texas series by Charlaine Harris
A vampire, a witch and a psychic walk in to a pawn shop. . . . The paranormal is just a fact of life in this town, but over the course of the series we learn how much it’s part of the town itself. There are also a few characters form Harris’s other series that cross over.
Our review of Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1)

6. The Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper
Newly turned vampire Jane Jameson works in an occult bookstore in Half Moon Hollow, Kentucky. She lives with a ghostly aunt and one of her best friends married a werewolf. Molly Harper is hilarious and Dick Cheney (the vampire, not the former vice-president) is one of my all-time favorite supporting characters.
VBC review of Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson #1)

7. The Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett
Arcadia Bell stays under the radar serving drinks to demons at a Tiki bar in the resort town of Mirella, California. When her notorious parents resurface and blow her cover, she teams up with a sexy academic to clear her name. He also has a teenaged son who’s another one of my favorite supporting characters ever.
VBC review of Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell #1)

The Veil by Chloe Neill // VBC8. The Devil’s Isle series by Chloe Neill
Normally, I would say that any series set in NOLA doesn’t belong on a small town list (hence no Jane Yellowrock on this one), but after a magical apocalypse, the city feels a lot smaller. This series reminds me of Kate Daniels in that respect. Magic is outlawed and paranormals are kept in an internment camp at Devil’s Isle.
VBC review of The Veil (Devil’s Isle #1)

9. The Annabelle Lee series by Stacey Jay
Here’s another post-apocalyptic Louisiana, this one overrun by poisonous fairies. Annabelle Lee, one of the rare people immune to their bite, is part of the federal government’s containment team. She’s kind of like a CSI, though that doesn’t quite cover it. She’s also damaged and self-medicating and wonderfully complex.
VBC review of Dead on the Delta (Annabelle Lee #1)

10. The Dark Ink Chronicles by Elle Jasper
This series mixes voodoo and vampires in steamy Savannah. Riley Poe is a tattoo artist raising her teenaged brother. When he’s threatened by vampires, she turns to a rival clan for protection and gets a crash course in the paranormal world.
VBC review of Afterlight (Dark Ink #1)

What small town series would you include? Let us know in the comments.

Note: I purposely didn’t include paranormal romance series (If I had The Edge series by Ilona Andrews would be near the top of the list—it really nails the rural Southern vibe.) or young adult (Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires is a great spooky small town series.)

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4 Responses to “10 “Rural Fantasy” Series You Need to Read”

  1. Sara H says:

    The Edge series by Ilona Andrews.
    I mean, it takes place in a spot that’s not quite the world we live in and not quite in a fantastical other land, it’s on *the edge* of both, but it’s definitely rural. Like a rural Louisiana with bayous and forest vibe.

    • Margaret says:

      I mentioned that one in the post. It’s not on the list because it’s PNR, not UF. But otherwise a great example of this type of setting.

  2. Brannon says:

    The Tufa novels by Alex Bledsoe is a wonderful series set in the Appalachian mountains. It’s about hillbilly descendants of the Irish Fae whose magic is powered by music. The characters are memorable, it has one of the cruelest antagonist I’ve read about, and the series has a tie in album by a band called ‘Tuatha Dea’.

    In summary, I like it.

    • Margaret says:

      I haven’t read that one, but it sounds interesting. Definitely a good example of “rural fantasy.”

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