It’s looking like this will be another month without a short story, so in lieu of this week’s Mystery Post of Mystery, I am giving you a Bonus Post of…Bonus.
I’m looking for a genre. Well, a sub-genre. Possibly a sub-sub-genre.
I like to divide YA Fantasy into three sub-genres. They all incorporate similar elements, but there are a few differences and depending on my mood I go back and forth between which is my favourite.
First, there’s Epic Fantasy. These stories take place on other worlds, and there are pretty much no limitations. These are worlds like Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and characters like Kristin Cashore’s Katsa. This is my comfort food. This is the genre I grew up loving, and even though it’s not terrifically popular at the moment (Dear Kristin Cashore, THANK YOU SO MUCH. Love, me), the books that get published are usually gems.
Next there is what I like to call Inserted World, but what is probably more commonly known as Magical Realism. This is your Harry Potter, your Clary Fray and your Silla Kennicott. These are stories set on our own Earth, but where magic is a secret. I prefer the to use “Insert World” because it lets me lump most paranormal romance into the sub genre, at least those paranormal romances where vampires/faeries/etc are secret, and also books like Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red which don’t involve magic, but are set on our own Earth.
The third sub-genre is the one I am the most interested in right now. I call it Practical Magic, and it is our Earth again, but this time magic is commonplace. It’s not universal in practice, which is to say that not everyone can perform it, but everyone knows that magic exists . The key is the alternate history. For completion’s sake, something like True Blood would qualify here, as even though it is a paranormal romance, vampires are not a secret.
So far, I have two (published) examples of this genre. The first is Chris Moriarty’s The Inquisitor’s Apprentice, which I recced last Friday. The second is Holly Black’s White Cat series.
(Sidebar: Technically, Erin Bow’s Plain Kate probably qualifies, except is it just old and ethereal enough to blur the line between straight up Fantasy and Historical Fantasy, which is a murky line to begin with, and I arbitrarily view Historical Fantasy as its own genre most of the time, which is why it’s not on my list of sub-genres here.)
It could be argued that Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races qualifies as Practical Magic, except for the tiny detail that there aren’t actually magical elements. Because of the lack of magic and inclusion of creatures, I call that sub(-sub?)-genre Zoological Unrealism, because I think it sounds funnier. Whatever you call it, Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s Every Other Day qualifies as well.
The point of this whole post is twofold:
1. What do you all think of “Practical Magic” and “Zoological Unrealism” as genres?, and
2. Have you got any recommendations for me? (The only real qualifications are that the world has to exist near as is, but with MAGIC or CREATURES that are not secret. And not science fiction. By which I probably mean “not dystopian”.)