Paranormal Classificationa

These classifications were created by Louise VanderVliet in the original AAR News Blog entitled: Developing Paranormal Classifications

Fantasy Romance These are like Lord of the Rings-style romance. Generally they are on a made up world that is often vaguely medieval in nature. People live in castles and fight with swords and bows – and of course a little magic thrown in. They are not historical, because though there may be a British bent to settings, they are definitely not of our world. Most have dragons, fairies, elves, mages, and other mythological beasts.

Series that fit in this category: C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul, Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdoms, G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin, Alexis Morgan’s Warriors of the Mist, Kylie Griffin’s Light Blade

Sci-Fi Romance Things in a Sci-Fi romance may include space ships, computers, and aliens. Often times in Sci-Fi romance there are either strong military themes or they can take place in a post-apocalyptic world. Magic may or may not be a part of the book. In many cases, it is the advanced technology that is the “magic”.

Series that fit in this category: Linnea Sinclair’s Dock Five, Susan Grant’s 2176, Sandra McDonald’s Outback Stars, Joss Ware’s Envy Chronicles, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s League

Steampunk It is a mix of Science Fiction, Paranormal, and usually has Historical undertones. The key is the idea of steam powered technology. When I think of Steampunk, I think of the movie League of Extraordinary Gentleman and Jules Verne. Often Steampunk is set in an alternate late 1800’s Britain, but it can also be set in the Old West or a post apocalyptic world where the only remaining technology is steam power. You won’t find the use of standard “magic” in these books except through the inventions that are usually at once dated (being steam powered) and ahead of their time. In addition, those gadgets and gizmos are usually crucial to the story and become a major factor.

Series that fit in this category: Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas, Kate Cross’s Clockwork Agents, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate

Time Travel

This category can be a little tough to place. AAR has a separate listing for Time Travels. That is where stories with a primary character (hero or heroine dealing with the ramifications of traveling through time to an unexpected place) go. Beyond that, the reviewer may place an additional designation. For example, for a story where a Highland Laird gets sent to the future, that book may be classified Time Travel – Contemporary Scotland.

Series that fit in this category: Melissa Mayhue’s Daughters of the Glen, Lynn Kurland’s dePiaget/MacLeod, Sandra Hill’s Vikings, Karen Marie Moning’s Highlanders, Janet Chapman’s Highlanders

Paranormal These are the stories where the hero and/or the heroine is something not quite human, and where the focus is on the romance. The characters can include the gamut. They can be Werewolves, Vampires, Berserkers, Demons, Witches, Greek Gods, Shape Shifters, or just about any other type of creature you can imagine (Thunderbird anyone?) Though Paranormals often have a contemporary setting, they can take place in historical settings, as well. What separates Historical Paranormal Romances from Fantasy Romances is that the historical setting is, well, historical. Whether it is present day earth or Britain in the Regency era, in a Paranormal, the setting is a real place and the details are (more or less) historically accurate.

Examples: JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark, Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, Larissa Ione’s Demonica/Lords of Deliverance, Lydia Dare’s Westfield Wolves, Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London

Urban Fantasy The line between paranormal and urban fantasy can be a tricky one to draw. It’s a debate we’ve discussed here previously. The key word when classifying the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance is WORLD BUILDING. In Urban Fantasy, the World is an important “character”. There can be a romance and two characters may be the “star” of the story, but there is usually a lot more going on in the story than just the main couple and that is where the true focus lies. The romance and the main couple are incidental to the major storyline.

Series that fit in this category: Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson, Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson, Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunters, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress, Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac, JR Ward’s Fallen Angels



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