The gothic roots of urban fantasy

Romantic suspense writer Gennita Low muses about the connection between Wuthering Heights and today’s urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres.

Gennita Low does have a point there. Today’s urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres are clearly descendants of the gothic novel of the 18th and 19th century. In fact, every popular fiction genre today can be traced back to the 18th/19th century gothic novel in some form, though that is a discussion for another post.

What is more, the Brontes, particularly Jane and Emily (few people have read the vastly underrated Anne), have had a huge influence on the romance genre in general and its paranormal branch in particular.

Stephenie Meyer has even admitted that Wuthering Heights was one of the inspirations for Twilight. Besides, it’s Bella’s favourite book, a fact which gave the novel an unlikely sales boost some 160 years after its first publication. And for Twilight, the themes of obsessive love and an angst-ridden hero certainly apply.

However, Heathcliff is not the original bad boy hero, that would be Lord Byron himself who was even the real life model for one of literature’s first sexy vampires via his friend John Polidori.

More importantly, not every paranormal romance or urban fantasy novel features a possessive and angst-ridden alpha hero nor do all of them have heroes and heroines who are incapable of communicating beyond verbal fights. True, a lot of paranormal romances and urban fantasy novels have this dynamic (usually the ones I don’t particularly care about), but there’s more to the genre than ultra-possessive alpha males and relationships bordering on violence.

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