On urban/contemporary fantasy

In the vast majority of stories that fall into the urban/contemporary fantasy genre—I’m talking Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight or any other paranormal romance, and for that matter most stories about the so-called paranormal—the existence of supernatural or fanciful elements is always presented as this kind of incredible surprise to the main characters. They grow up thinking that stuff doesn’t really exist, they don’t know whether they believe it when they first see it, and the people they talk to about it are always skeptical or incredulous. Often it’s meant to be kept secret or hidden from the ignorant masses, and sometimes there’s a message thrown in there about how “not everything can be rationally/scientifically explained”.

I know this isn’t the genre to quibble about realism, but I for one question why, if the supernatural were in fact real, its very existence would need to be hidden or suppressed like that. You’d think it would be out in the open and everyone would take it for granted the way we do seasons or tides. Maybe we wouldn’t have an accurate explanation for the phenomena, but at least the majority of us would acknowledge its empirical existence and take it for granted. Right now, I feel the treatment of the supernatural in urban and contemporary fantasy as something that has to be uncovered has led to so many regurgitations of a certain setup formula that it’s getting trite. Having the supernatural become a widely accepted facet of daily life in an urban/fantasy setting would erase the need for that formula and provide writers in the genre with the opportunity to choose other setups.

Enough with the “hidden magical world” dead horse.


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