Where My Girls At? Female Friendship in Urban Fantasy

November 2, 2013 General 14

I recently read the first book in a new UF series and I really enjoyed it.  While I was writing my review, I started thinking about all the things I liked about the book and one of those things was the cast of side characters.  Going through that list I realized these characters were all men.  Again.  Almost every UF I read has a strong female lead, for the most part, a love interest, a cast of male characters (some of whom are vying for our heroine’s attention, love, sex, etc), and a best friend who is female and has, maybe, five sentences in every book.  What’s up with that? 

I began reading UF almost exclusively a couple years ago and considered myself pretty well-versed in the genre.  And then I started reading blogs and blogging myself and quickly realized I’d only scratched the surface of it all.  There are MANY readers out there who know more about this genre than I do.  Just know that I love it.  It tends to be my preferred genre.  And I have mad respect for it.  That said, why isn’t there more emphasis on female friendship?  Why are heroines always surrounded by strong men with female friends generally in the background?  I can only assume it’s because part of the fantasy has nothing to do with world-building but with the female fantasy of having a bunch of strong, hot men focused only on you, the protagonist?  I’m not sure.  But it’s getting old. 

So of course I was excited to see the cover for this up-coming book.  This is the first time I’ve seen two women on a UF cover and I’m hoping it means two strong female leads: 

Night Owl

And then the wonderful blog, Dear Author, did a review of the book, Sorrow’s Knot, which piqued my interest enough to want to buy it.  The review highlighted its strong core of female friendship and power.

Sorrow's Knot

I think one series that comes to mind is Cecy Robson’s Weird Girls which focuses on a group of powerful sisters that basically fight evil together.  The first two books focus on Celia, the oldest, but I think there are plans for the other sisters to get their own books eventually.

Cursed Embrace


But why so few examples?

What I’d like to see is a kick ass heroine that has a couple of really kick ass female friends…in addition to an interesting man or two.  There seem to be a lot of series based around a group of men.  Why not a group of strong women?  The Charlie’s Angels (or, dare I, Charlene’s Angels…couldn’t help myself) of the supernatural world.  Now that’s a series I could get into.  

But now, I want you to help me out.  School me.  What do I need to read to get a UF with a strong core of female friendship?  What have I overlooked?

14 Responses to “Where My Girls At? Female Friendship in Urban Fantasy”

  1. melliane

    you’re right, it’s rare, and it’s what intrigued me for the first one, I really want to discover it. You know I love UF, and I think it’s nice sometimes to have something different like that.
    melliane recently posted..Stacking the Shelves #66My Profile

    • shewolfreads

      Keeping it different from the pack is what makes for an exciting book in a popular genre. Looking forward to seeing if Night Owl lives up to the fun cover!

  2. Van

    Great Post! Now that you mentioned it, I do see a lot of female heroine surrounded by strong-alpha males lol. A strong female relationship that comes to mind right now is Kate and Andrea in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Andrea is a solid secondary character that definitely has more than a few lines, I mean she even got a spin-off book (which I still need to read)!

    I adore the Cecy’s Weird Girls series, which I am also a book behind >.<. Too many books, so little time!

    • shewolfreads

      All signs are pointing towards me starting the Kate Daniels series. I read a short story a while back and couldn’t get into it which is why I never started the series but maybe that was an unfair take on the series as a whole. And Robson’s series is so much fun!

  3. Readsalot81

    *gasp* Lee, you haven’t read Kate Daniels? Omg, I envy you. That series is pretty stellar, and the friendship between Kate and Andrea gets stronger as the books progress.

    I can think of a couple series where the MC has a female bestie, although the relationships aren’t really highlighted to my satisfaction.

    Nalini’s Guild Hunter series – Elena & Sara. Sara is equally as tough & is in charge of the Guild itself – so there isn’t a big power imbalance between the two of them. (Though I really see this as more PNR – some would def say it’s UF)

    Jennifer Estep’s Gin Blanco has her sister, Brie,(Bria?) and the dwarves, Sophia and Jo-Jo as close confidants etc.

    Estep also has that Paranormal YA series w/ Gwen Frost – she has a close bestie that’s a valkyrie. Good female friendships represented in those books.

    Maybe Jacqueline Carey’s Agent of Hel series. Daisy has a female best friend that will show up periodically.

    Good question though. Can’t name a lot of UF with strong female ties. If I branch outside UF, I could name more.

    • shewolfreads

      I know! My dirty little secret…must read Kate Daniels series! LOL! Thanks for the recs! I’m glad you mentioned Gin Blanco. The supporting women in that series are incredible. I’ve only read up to book three (will start number 4 this month) and I’m hoping to see how those relationships develop. It’s so true though…none of the women in that series are weak or less than kick ass. They all have an inner strength that’s admirable and exciting, really. Would love to know what you’d recommend outside of UF!
      shewolfreads recently posted..Mini(ARC)-Review – Entwined by Kristen CallihanMy Profile

  4. Annie

    You have to read Kate Daniels. Seriously. Her relationship progresses with Andrea and it is an all around great series. READ IT!! 😉 I have thought about this sometimes as well and honestly wonder if it is like this in real life. Historically a majority of my friends have been male. This only changed after I got married, however, I still get along better with my husbands friends than their wives. Being a strong women, i think, makes it much harder to find female friends. Even harder still is to remain friends with women long term. I cannot tell you how lucky I am now to have a best friend and we have both discussed how different our lives would have been if we had found a true friend (that was female) when we were younger.
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  5. Steph from fangswandsandfairydust.com

    Love this article and You are right about Cecy’s books. What comes to mind is The Hollows, Kim Harrison;
    The Charley Davidson series, Darynda Jones — Charley has Cookie, — she is not usually effective in action – but give Cookie a computer… Charley depends on guys or the son of Satan.

    Interesting thoughts though. The only reason I can think of is upper body strength. Most guys have more of it. Even in bad shape. If you are in a hole and a demon is about to eat you upper body strength lifting you out is handy.
    I guess I am saying it is situational — when the thing is physical and requires that kind of action there are actually fewer women trained and strong than there are men.
    At least in my experience in real life. We might be able to figure it out – but the demon might not wait until we can get a lever and such.
    I have been exercising for 25 years or so and I am still not as strong as a basic guy.
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