The Paranormal Reads That Started It All
Do you remember your very first paranormal read? The one that captured your imagination and made you want to read every book in the genre? Today we talk about just that, our first paranormal reads, the ones that started it all.
My first paranormal read was probably DRACULA by Bram Stoker, which remains one of my all time favourite books. It was definitely the horror book to get me into the horror genre, where I began reading James Herbert, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but it wasn’t the first book that started me on my journey to the wonderful world of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
The book that started it all for me was in 2001, when for some unknown reason I bought GUILTY PLEASURES by Laurell K. Hamilton while perusing Amazon. It was so exciting, full of action, vampires, zombies; graphic and gruesome combined with sexy. I couldn’t put it down. I devoured it in an afternoon and, craving for more, I went back on Amazon and bought the rest of the books in the series at that time.
GUILTY PLEASURES showed me that women could write horror, that female characters could be strong as well as sexy, could be independent and yet be vulnerable. It showed me a new fantasy world where creatures of the night could talk and be part of society, living alongside humans, whether they were good or bad. Most of my reading had been horror where beasts were really beasts, not something you cosy up with. Although, saying that, some of the vampires in the Anita Blake series are just evil (Nikolaos).
She was so badass, and didn’t let anything phase her. But although she was tough as nails on the outside, Anita did have vulnerabilities and flaws, which endeared me to her like no other character had before. I loved Anita. I couldn’t get enough of her. She’s so snarky and I just love her one-liners, her wit and her strength, but you know there’s more going on underneath that hard exterior. Anita cares and I loved that about her. The relationship between Anita Blake and the men around her was just amazing, and I know that those who have read her latter books have complained they are mow more erotica than urban fantasy, but as I haven’t read passed book ten, I can’t comment. My thoughts here in reference to the earlier books.
I will always be grateful to Hamilton and Anita for showing me new worlds and possibilities, and for getting me completely and utterly hooked on the genre, which has led me to other genres such as paranormal romance. They will always have a special place in my heart for being my first.
I guess if you were going to be technical, THE WORST WITCH by Jill Murphy was probably my very first urban fantasy book, I loved her stories as a little girl and I’ve always had a weakness for paranormal novels.
My first adult urban fantasy was BITTEN by Kelley Armstrong. Ironically I’d actually picked it up as a bit of an add on present for my husband’s birthday. I thought a book on werewolves, looks like a bloody, gory horror he might like. Then I hit a weekend when I realised, aghast (!) that I had run out of books to read and decided to pick it up to fill in the gap.
This was also a weekend we’d decided to start decorating the bedroom in our new flat. To explain this you probably need to know that my husband and I do not do decorating. Well, at least not together. But we did not find out until that particular weekend. It’s our major flaw as a couple, he’s Hockney and I’m Van Gogh and ‘never the twain shall meet’. So we decided the best course of action should be that he decorates and I be the decorator’s lackey, but you see I’d picked up this book and it was just sooo good, I kept sneaking in pages when I was meant to be washing the paint brushes…
I’d never read a book like BITTEN before. I remember one scene where they killed one of the baddies and buried him in the woods, I thought they can’t do that what about the police?! Ahh…. so naive! Elena is an awesome heroine. She knows how to kick some serious butt and is tough in her own right. But it was the concept of werewolves living secretly in our everyday world who were essentially normal people who could just have been bitten that fascinated me. I’d only ever seen them as evil creatures, monsters, the stuff of nightmares before. I finished it in a day and went out to buy the next one the following day (when I was meant to be on a paint buying mission!). It remains one of my favourite books even now.
My first horror book(s) were a series called POINT HORROR. A number of authors, including L. J Smith and Christopher Pike, who wrote books aimed at the young adult market. These were my first steps into the darker side of literature. While others were reading Sweet Valley High, I was reading books with vampires, psycho boyfriends, witches and other things that go bump in the night.
My first foray into adult paranormal romance was OBSIDIAN BUTTERFLY by Laurell K. Hamilton. I was in a bookshop on holiday in Orlando and the blue cover caught my eye. The tag “Buffy on Speed” was what really clinched it and I devoured the book with relish. This was the first step into my PNR obsession, which has morphed into including authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynsay Sands, Jim Butcher and numerous others. I’ve never looked back!
Well for me, I can’t personally remember the very first paranormal romance or horror book that I read because there have been so many! However, I can remember that when I first started getting into the genre one of my early reads was the classic DRACULA by Bram Stoker. I love this book, and it felt appropriate to read this first as in a way all modern paranormal romance/horror novels have had the way carved for them by Bram Stoker. He came up with the original vampire novel, of which there are so many these days, and laid the foundations for a lot of typical horror plot twists. Everything about the book draws you in, and it makes a wonderful introduction to the world of horror and paranormal.
I am finding this really tricky, as I seemed to discover lots of different authors all at the same time. I was introduced to the genre by stumbling across Twilight whilst on holiday in the states. It was on the tv and I had never heard of it, but thought I would have a watch, as you do. I really enjoyed the film, and when I got back to the UK I got talking to a friend of mine about it, who turned out to be a total Twimum. She suggested that I read the books (although she wouldn’t lend me her copies…she strokes her books more than I do) so I went out and bought the series and thoroughly enjoyed them (roll on November for the last bit of the films). At the same time I was reading the MAXIMUM RIDE young adult series by James Patterson. I LOVED this series, and am still keeping up with it now. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to start reading them, or at least me read them to them (after all it couldn’t hurt for me to read them all over again! Mental note: go get the Angel Experiment so I am ready!) Even though the series is aimed at young adults I really enjoyed the rapport between the kids in the series, and they are such fabulously gritty characters with some hilarious banter. I am not ashamed to say that the kids often had me in tears too.
Then I went and got all adult, and started on Christine Feehan’s Dark series. I started with DARK PRINCE, and fell in love with Mikhail and Raven, and most definitely Gregori. I launched myself head first into the series and didn’t stop until I had read them all, although I will admit, that since discovering some more authors in the genre, I am currently one story behind in the series. I was looking forward to reading it, but after having read the reviews, I am not too sure now
I love this genre, and could easily ramble on about it for hours on end, and often do, boring friends and colleagues shamelessly. Which is what makes it awesome to be able to chat to like minded folk here on Book Chick City, without having to feel guilty!! There is nothing better than guilt free, calorie free pleasure!