Has a novel ever made you homesick?


VBC wants to know...

Last week I reviewed Kevin Hearne’s debut urban fantasy Hounded. The novel, featuring 2,100-year-old druid Atticus, is set in Tempe, Arizona. Mostly in downtown Tempe, which is a dense mashing of bars, indie shops and the best hamburgers ever. I say all this because I lived there for several years there. I attended Arizona State University when the journalism school still resided at its Tempe campus. So, Atticus’ world mirrored mine several years ago. I started reading and as Hearne described the location of his hero’s mystical shop, I went — wait — that’s right by the record store where I worked nearly 10 years ago.

Parking sign outside Casey Moore's Oyster House in Tempe, AZSo, I hit the super nice Hearne up on Twitter (@KevinHearne) and asked. The fictional shop is located where the real-life Ash Avenue Comics resides. So my first thought was — hey, that’s right next to one of my favorite Tempe hangouts! Another local bar is more Atticus’ style, but as I dug deeper into the story I felt connected and as though Atticus was some guy I should have run into during my college days. His cottage could have been across the street from a friend’s place. It almost made me a bit homesick. (The husband and I moved to Texas a few years back.) The novel is excellent even if you don’t feel at home while reading it, but the whole concept got me thinking.

Lots of paranormal novels are set in Arizona. The varied climates, the options to tie in with Native American mythology and the like have writers often setting tales in the Sonoran Desert. But even Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series, which makes some great jokes about how non-Arizonans think there aren’t seasons in the desert, didn’t push that sense of nostalgia with me. I’m sure if I thought long enough I could come up with a litany of reasons for the difference, but I think a big part is Hounded makes Tempe a finite character in the novel, as the best urban fantasy tales do.

So, here’s my question: Does having a connection to the city featured in an urban fantasy make you feel more connected? If you’re from Cincinnati, do you wish you could visit The Hollows from Kim Harrison’s series of the same name? And does this familiarity with the city matter any less with titles outside the urban fantasy genre?

Readers, tell me you thoughts. Is there are novel you felt so connected to because of it’s setting? Did you visit a city just because an author made it so vibrant in his or her novel?

6 Responses to “Has a novel ever made you homesick?”

  1. Kristin says:

    Unfortunately, there aren’t any novels that have made me homesick since I’ve been a Texas girl all my life. However, there ARE novels that made me fall in love with the location. I particularly like the Quebec settings of Kathy Reichs’ Tempe Brennan series.

  2. shannonB. says:

    I have always lived in the middle of BFE in either IL or IN, so never felt homesick reading a book. I’ve been to St Louis a lot though, so I feel like I know exactly where everything should be the Anita Blake books.

  3. Kim says:

    The BDB series by JR Ward was my 1st favorite PNR series but I love the Caldwell NY location they are set in since I live in Central NY-there are so many references to real places I know and have been to. It makes it all that more real to me and its exciting when something is written nearby-or-‘I’ve been there’. So I’d have to give a ‘yes’ for this topic,I feel a connection to her books more than others.

  4. Julie Witt says:

    I don’t have any books that really make me feel homesick but I have visited a place because it was described so vibrantly in a book that I just HAD to see it. The book was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and when I visited Savannah, Georgia, because of this book, I visited places that had been mentioned in the book, and that made my trip so, so special!

  5. Sara H says:

    If you were going to pick an exciting/exotic/whatever locale for a book would you pick Toronto over New Orleans/Paris/New York/etc? Probably not. Which is why I was totally thrilled when at least part of Kelley Armstrong’s debut novel of the Otherworld series, Bitten, took place in Toronto. It was fantastic to read about somewhere I’d been and I could relate too. I have to admit there was also a little Canadian patriotism involved too.
    So definitely I felt more connected to this book.

  6. Denise Z says:

    I do not think I actually get homesick with a setting, but it has been known to make the story more real for me when my mind says – yes I can see that. Of course I am a reader who loves to become emotionally invested and if this happens with a book – it is my friend forever. I would not visit a place because it is in a book, as frankly I read fiction and letting my mind follow and become immersed in the story is much better than the reality of a setting where this might have taken place.

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