Vampires and werewolves and warlocks, oh my…

As part of our Halloween Month, Tegan Stevenson, talks about paranormal romance and provides us with a recommendation of Dragon Bound, the first book in the Elder Races series by Thea Harrison. Tegan is a 3rd year English and Creative Writing Student at The University of Sunderland

Paranormal romance is the mix of the supernatural and the mundane. It is the idea that something more or less than human can have a relationship that transcends their limitations, whether they are social, lifestyle or personal boundaries. It is not always the case in modern fiction as it was in the early days of paranormal literature, such as Dracula by Bram Stoker, that the couples are a mix of creature and human. Often, contemporary writers use a completely supernatural relationship, e.g. a witch and a vampire, to mark the absence of humanity or the prevailing humanity in creatures who are traditionally inhuman.

The attraction to a creature such as a vampire or a werewolf is always up for debate. Is it power, experience or an animalistic nature that makes them so tantalising? There are an endless amount of mythological or legendary creatures to choose from for any writer wishing to break into the paranormal romance genre, but folk history makes some creatures more popular than others for mainstream fiction. Vampires, werewolves or other shapeshifters and magic users have shown an incredible popularity in recent years. For example, the popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series saw an emergence in magic-related fiction.

Much of the contemporary paranormal romance on the market has a preference for female main characters. While the image of the brooding hero has endured, the characterisation of the female lead has changed dramatically over the last couple of centuries. The simpering maiden is no longer the most obvious representation of femininity within the genre. The women often have fighting skills or attitudes to rival the men.

When I’m asked to recommend a book I’m usually struck by the thought, “Which one?” For complex female characters and exquisite worldbuilding I honestly believe that Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series is as good as it gets.

Dragon Bound is the first book in the Elder Races series. It introduces the female lead, Pia Giovanni who is half-human and half-Wyr and finds herself doing a bad job of keeping a low profile. Dragon Bound also introduces Dragos Cuelebre, the most feared and respected of Wyrkind… and he is also a dragon some of the time.

Navigating a world of shapeshifters, vampyres, fae and more, the series is captivating in its storytelling and each book in the series introduces new couples, so it’s always a refreshing read in a familiar world. It is a great commentary on the effect of social power on romantic relationships as many of the characters, both male and female, have professionally dominant working lives.

Any more information about the series and the author can be found here:

http://theaharrison.com/

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About spectralvisions

Spectral Visions is an annual Gothic conference hosted by the University of Sunderland. It explores the dark, the decadent and the terrifying aspects of Gothic literature and language. This blog is a student-run initiative, where Visionaries showcase their creative talents and learning in short stories, poems and essays on the Gothic. You can follow us on Twitter at @spectralvisi0ns or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/uosgothic
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