Midnight Enchantments: Why Real Women Love Urban Fantasy Women

Why Real Women Love Urban Fantasy Women
By Cerridwen Iris Shea

It wasn’t called “urban fantasy” in the 1990s and even early 2000s. Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde books were filed under “fantasy/scifi”. Yasmine Galenorn’s Chintz N China series and Rosemary Edghill’s Bast Books were shelved in mysteries.

None of these women were your typical heroines, and not just because they worked with magic as part of their normal, every day lives. They weren’t waiting around for some man to rescue them — they rescued themselves. They solved problems more than creating them (how often do you see “heroines” in cozies do something stupid just so “the guy” can come in, call her stupid, and then have sex with her?), they accepted magic as part of themselves and part of their lives. They had jobs and friends and families and heartache and LIVES. They didn’t just sit around and do hocus-pocus — they dealt with the same sorts of things my friends and I dealt with, too. Plus the whole demons and vampires and fae and stuff.

As someone who was just entering the Craft, I wanted to read books about women who knew more about the Craft than I did, and had integrated it into their lives. Sure, I enjoyed high fantasy, sword and sorcery, created worlds. But I also wanted to see someone in similar living conditions, with similar issues, someone who was better and more knowledgeable and all that. Someone who worked to live an integrated life instead of a fractured one. Who might not always succeed, but put in the effort. And who could also kick ass when it came to demons and vampires and fae and stuff I was relieved I never had to deal with!

I knew these women were FICTIONAL. I knew the stories were FICTION. It’s not like I was going to take the novel out on a dark and stormy night, pretending it was a grimoire. I’m not a moron, and I’m not delusional. But the way that Nancy Drew inspired me when I was eight and nine and ten and on to explore my curiosity about the world — and she had friends and family and a life, too — these fictional women also inspired me.

They inspired me to search through the sludge and find my best self. And work on that.

The genre’s grown and shifted. Now we have part-humans and shifters and vampires and all kinds of urban fantasy women who kick ass. They’re still inspirational. Why? Because I’m older, the stakes are higher, and I might not be dealing with a personified demon that way Corine Solomon does in Ann Aguirre’s books, but I’m dealing with metaphorical demons as I try to find a good, ethical way to navigate in an often wildly unethical world.

These women are not perfect. But they are smart, resourceful, learn quickly, give a damn, have compassion and humanity even if they’re not always or fully human. They remind me that life is what I make of it. They remind me that, no matter how bleak it seems, there is always a choice. They remind me that, even if you can’t see the endgame, or know you’re going to win it, there are small victories along the way, moments with those you love, who make it all worthwhile.

Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn’s calendars and almanacs for sixteen years. She also writes the Merry’s Dalliance fantasy pirate adventures. She teaches tarot workshops, and is thrilled to finally have her own herb garden and still room. Find her on the web at www.cerridwenscottage.com. This is her busy season.

Midnight Enchantments: Corine Solomon

Midnight Enchantments is a series of essays and information on some of favorite paranormal characters, series, authors, and books.

Midnight Enchantments: Corine Solomon
By Cerridwen Iris Shea

I’m very fortunate — I get to discuss two of my favorite magical practitioners back-to-back. Yesterday, I talked about Juliet Blackwell’s creation, Lily Ivory. Today, I get to talk about another of my favorites, Corine Solomon, central to Ann Aguirre’s BLUE DIABLO, HELL FIRE, and SHADY LADY. There are at least two more scheduled,up for pre-order on Amazon, DEVIL’S PUNCH (April 2012) and BLOODY MARIA (April 2013). I’m very excited — at the end of SHADY LADY, it felt like it could have remained a trilogy, or continued on. I’m thrilled there will be more Corine stories — some of the revelations in SHADY LADY left me eager to see how Aguirre develops the threads. And, no, I won’t spoil them for you — you should sit down and read them for yourself!

Corine’s had a hard life, and spent a lot of it on the run. She’s now settled in Mexico, running an antique store. Both Corine and Lily are hereditary — magic runs in the family. Both are specialize in psychometry — they can touch an object and learn its history. Corine is a “handler”, and a sought-after one. Her gift is a curse for her, and causes her enormous physical pain.

In Corine’s case, however, people tend to bring her things with dark pasts that get her into all sorts of trouble, and she’s got a lot more demon-fighting to deal with than Lily. Corine’s love life is complicated, too, especially with Chance, who’s got his own magic good luck (not just in the looks department), which, unfortunately, causes bad luck to rebound on those around him.

Aguirre’s skill is so smooth that she not only draws you into Corine and has you root for her, she makes you want to step into the book as an individual and help Corine fight the fight. When Corine returns to her nasty, small-minded, pea-brained home town in HELL FIRE, the town where her mother died and she was feared for her magic, I wanted to break every Rede known to toast it. And I’m not talking about with champagne! I would have been perfectly happy to have demons eat the town, provided they could be contained there!

But Corine is a better person than I am, which is why she is the center of a series, and I am not. And, of course, there was more at stake than some small-minded ignoramuses.

When there’s a wonderful revelation in SHADY LADY about Corine’s lineage, you just want to stand up and cheer (especially if you know what they’re talking about)! And she takes a character who could have been a frightening antagonist and turns him into something beautiful, wonderful, and fascinating.

For a reader, she gives you everything you could want from characters and story, and more. For a writer, she’s exceptionally inspirational.

The series is action-packed and dark and heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. Each book is an exciting, wonderful jewel, and every time I finish one, I mark my calendar for the next release date.

You can find more about the Corine Solomon novels and Ann’s other books on her website.

Cerridwen Iris Shea wrote for Llewellyn’s calendars and almanacs for sixteen years. She also writes the Merry’s Dalliance fantasy pirate adventures. She teaches tarot workshops, and is thrilled to finally have her own herb garden and still room. Find her on the web at www.cerridwenscottage.com. This is her busy season.