In my recent blog here, I promised some short reviews of recent reads. The books are different in almost every way, but they do have two things in common: they’re all part of a larger series, and they’re (mostly) genre mashups. So before we start, it seems like a good time to revisit an earlier blog piece on related genres and see just what that might mean. With the assistance of the ever-helpful plot generator, I’ve created a little story blurb with some genre notes that should cover most of the genres listed.
And the bonus? Quick reviews of some fantastic books and where they fit in this spectrum.
The Enchanted Hereditary Seal Of The Cozy Mysteries Society
by Barb Taub
Lower Cows Wallop, the
diabetic coma-inducingsweet little village that time forgot, holds a secret.
Justa Minute-You has the perfect life working as a Royal Wedding Bunting Supplier in the city and baking cupcakes with her equally hyphenated boyfriend, Darngood Abs-Definition. However, when she finds the hereditary seal of the Cozy Mysteries Society in her cellar, she begins to realise that things are not quite as they seem in the Minute-You family.
At first the people of Lower Cows Wallop seem to demonstrate excellent command of diction and syntax, and meticulously clean fingernails. But a hotly contested Spring Fete Bakeoff leaves Justa with some startling questions about her past, and she logs onto Lower Cows-Wallop’s surprisingly good internet connection to find some answers.
Justa is intrigued by the curiously melodic voice of hedgehog herder, Bea Serious. However, after Bea gets an innocent Justa hooked on the compulsive attraction of peeling the labels off beer bottles, Justa slowly finds herself drawn into an addictive web of talking on her phone in theaters, playing the accordion in public, and perhaps, even incorrect use of their/there/they’re.
Can Justa resist the charms of Bea Serious, avoid antisocial crimes, correct her grammar, and uncover the secret of the enchanted hereditary seal of the Cozy Mysteries Society before it’s too late? Or will her demise become yet another Lower Cows Wallop legend?
- If this is a hard-boiled detective story, Justa may start out with a partner. If so, said partner will probably be older, perhaps dishonest, but certainly not long for this world. (Especially if Justa starts delivering a running monologue, at which point the only thing left for her partner to do is make sure the life insurance is paid up and the whiskey polished off.) The high mortality rates must make Detective Partnering one of the most hazardous lines of work ever, second only to those guys who wear the red shirts on Star Trek and get killed between the first and second commercial breaks.
- If the detective is a member of the police force who has an idiosyncratic reputation for ignoring direct orders from his/her superiors, it is a police procedural and the writer will have to drop the “idiosyncratic” bit because that’s way too long a word for police dramas.
- If Justa is a little old lady, speaks with a southern accent, bakes cupcakes, or has a cat, it is a cozy mystery. (Sex and violence are strictly scheduled to occur behind decorously closed doors.)
- If the cat answers back, it is magical realism.
- If Justa is actually an intergalactic were-badger, this might be Science Fantasy.
- If Justa the intergalactic were-badger speaks in iambic pentameter, occasionally eats bits of Darngood, and now and then is inexplicably back on Earth-That-Was, it’s New Weird Fantasy.
- If everything happens too fast for you to keep up with clues but there’s blood everywhere and probably several explosions and chase scenes and Justa has a knife to her throat at least once, it’s a thriller.
FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION:
- If the cover has a half-naked woman and the two (or many) main characters die leaving only one alive, and that one’s got issues and (possibly) a talking cat belonging to a wizard detective, it’s urban fantasy.
- If the cover has a half-naked man and the two (or three) main characters end up mated or in love AND live happily ever after, it’s a paranormal romance.
- If Justa wears goggles and a corset, carries a spyglass, and rides on anything powered by steam, it is steampunk. (Darngood might be a sky pirate if he’s lucky, but either way she will probably shoot him at least once.)
- If Justa and Darngood join the crew of a lovable bunch of misfit space smugglers and often have to shoot their way out of trouble, it’s a Space Opera. If there are horses (even genetically modified talking android horses), it’s a Space Opera Western.
- If Justa is a teenager and Darngood is the new, stunningly brooding and gorgeous student with a devastating secret (hint: he’s a vampire), and Bea is her best friend, a generally sunny (except when she goes bat-shit crazy during full moons or her period) were-badger called Honey, and there’s ANOTHER boy with a devastating secret that Justa’s kinda sorta also attracted to, then this is… well, frankly it’s totalcrap that will probably become a bestseller and spawn a movie franchise and a hit TV Show.
- If Justa and Darngood have a meet cute, followed by a misunderstanding about Darnwood’s true relationship with Bea, followed by a Happy Ever After, it’s a romance. (If not, the reader is obligated to demand a refund and troll-post one-star reviews all over the web. Duh.)
- If Justa wears a bustle, crinoline, or shift and talks to actual historical figures, it’s a historical novel. If she goes to bed with them and neither of them gets beheaded and/or castrated, it’s a historical romance. (If the beheading and/or castration does occur, it’s a History Channel documentary which will involve sketchy historical details and an emotional re-enactment.)
- If Justa is a wacky, sexy professional woman with extremely high stilettos who is fighting for her big break in the City, Darngood is a smoking hot iBanker, and one of them has a gay friend with a small dog who gives good advice on clothes and relationships while the other one has a sister who just wants them to find The One and move to Brooklyn and make babies, but there are multiple triangles involving Bea the Heartless Bitch and the Deceptively Perfect Potential Love Interest (whew!), then it’s Chick Lit. (If one or both have chucked their meaningless City life, gay friend, and stilettos for post-recession life in the country because they’ve discovered What Really Matters, it’s Farm Lit. Brace yourself: there will be overalls.)
- if Justa is an orphan and Bea is her wicked stepmother whose evil plan is to steal Justa’s inheritance, the solid gold family heirloom bridle (which, face it, is pretty useless otherwise because the gold is pretty soft), if her house in Lower Cows Wallop is huge and reasonably spooky, and if the butler is a vampire, it’s a gothic novel.
- If the butler speaks with a southern accent and bites Justa when she’s dying in order to turn her into his eternal mate, it’s Gothic Paranormal
- If she’s into the biting and it’s consensual, and they live Happily (for)Ever After, it’s Gothic Paranormal Romance.
- If she’s into the biting, but kinda misses Darngood too, so she bites him and the three of them live Happily Ever After with lots more biting and maybe some tying-up stuff…it’s Gothic Paranormal Romance Erotica.Congratulations to the writer! You’ll probably make more than the rest of the genre writers put together.
- If Bea Serious—or anyone at any point—is wearing a clown costume, this is horror. And I SO don’t review horror, so this would be the end of my genre overview if it didn’t show up in a couple of fabulous genre mashups. You’re welcome.
Got all that? We’ll see how you do on the final…
Meanwhile, please join me for the next week (or so) as I review additions to a spectacular group of series.