Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TRW: Romancing the Paranormal

As a teen librarian who knows their trends, you know that books like Twilight and The House of Night series are as popular with teens as chocolate and pizza.  What you may not realize is that they have a long and distinguished history within literature dating back to 1764.  Paranormal romance, a subset of romance that has beings of the supernatural (ghosts, demons, angels, werebeings, vampires, etc.) falling in love/lust with us mere humans, actually comes from Gothic fiction.  The first Gothic stories were written by Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Clara Barton.  The Romantics took over, with Lord Byron giving us the archtype of the hero in our current paranormal romances:  a man of loneliness and mystery, a villain that detests himself for what he is, yet seems unable to change until the heroine makes her appearance.
The Victorians added their twist on it, with The Penny Dreadful serial fictions leading the way.  Enter then Edgar Allan Poe, who brought back more of the macabre, madness, and mystery into the mix.  The Bronte sisters as well can fall into paranormal ancestors, with ghosts in various stories as well as The Madwoman in the Attic.  Most current teen paranormal fiction falls into the genre of urban fantasy, where things blend the magical and mysterious in with the supernatural.  And when you think about it, most superhero comics and graphic novels, all time travel books, and those featuring psychic abilities would also fit in paranormal romances- not just things that go bump in the night or howl at the moon.  I’ve listed below some of my favorite books and series; share yours in the comments!

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  Werebeings, demons, vampires, and Shadowhunters descended from angels, plus secret siblings, crossed lovers, and secret crushes, including an all ages GLBT romance.  Oh, yes!

Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  When Ethan starts waking up from dreams that connect him to the new girl Lena, things start to take a turn, but are they for better or for worse?

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.  In the first part, Meagan is half faery, half human, and needs to claim her magical bloodright.  In the second, we follow Ethan, her brother, who must battle the vengeful Forgotten.

The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.  Aislynn, who is mortal,  has always seen the fairies, even when she wasn’t supposed to.  Her gift leads her on more and more adventures through the different courts as the series grows.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  Karou has a chance encounter with the angel Akiva, and her world starts unraveling around her- black handprints on portals, and memories coming back to life.  Will it be for good or for bad?

Tithe series by Holly Black.  16 year old Kaye learns her lineage- she’s a changeling pixie- and a move to New Jersey brings her into a plot to free her people but puts her life on the line.

Fallen series by Lauren Kate.  Luce, sent to boarding school, finds that Sword and Cross holds more for her than schooling; rather, fallen angels and her long lost love.

The Immortals series by Alyson Noel.  Ever and Damen, separated through different lifetimes, struggle to be together as they are intended.  

Madison Avery series by Kim Harrison.  Meet Madison, dead from a car accident after going to her prom. Oh, and she’s also a reaper.  Makes things a bit complicated to explain to her dad, especially with a light reaper, a dark reaper, and a guardian angel following her every move.  Oh, and school.

Prom Nights from Hell.  Think your prom was bad?  Try these stories on for size- but be warned, it’s not always a happy ending.

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