I was on Amazon.com yesterday and noticed that my book The Charlatan’s Boy was on a list of “Rural Fantasy for Children” put together by children’s lit blogger Kate Coombs. I’ve called my subgenre “frontier fantasy.” Ms. Coombs calls it “rural fantasy,” and she demonstrates that there are a good many more books in the category than I realized. She writes,
Maybe you’ve heard of urban fantasy, but there’s a new subgenre on the scene: its counterpart, rural fantasy. These magical stories take place on farms, in the backwoods, on the bayou, or in the Appalachian Mountains, and they tend to have a folksy, tall tale flavor. Also related are fantasy books set in the Wild West or on the American frontier during its pioneer days (think Little House on the Prairie with wands). We sometimes find a touch of Native American magic in the mix, as well. I suspect all this Americana is part of the backlash from authors trying not to recreate Hogwarts, let alone Middle Earth.
Her list includes Ingrid Law’s Newbery honor book Savvy and its sequel Scumble, Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, the graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack by Nathan Hale, O’Dell Award winner The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan. That’s not even half the list.
I didn’t think of myself as being part of a movement, but it seems there are a good many writers experimenting with the idea of taking American settings and tropes and infusing them with fantasy elements to create a new folk mythology. Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear what you think about them.
The only book on this list that I’ve read would be the one and only The Charlatan’s Boy. 😉 Although I recognize Ingrid Law and Savvy from the praise on the back of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. Naturally. 😉
Oh good, it worked. (Learning to get the titles in italics.) 🙂
That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of rural fantasy. I put Savvy and Scumble in the tall tale class. They reminded me of Paul Bunyan. But, of course, he was a logger, not a city dweller. Rapunzel’s Revenge falls into the rural category (and, more specifically, into the frontier fantasy category), but Calamity Jack took place, mostly, in a big city. It leaned more toward steam punk then rural fantasy, I’d say. I haven’t read The Boneshaker or Thirteenth Child or The storm in the Barn.
I wonder if ND Wilson’s books would fall into a rural fantasy category? I believe they all would. And Andrew Peterson’s would too.
I wonder if this is going to be a recognized sub-genre. Kate is no slouch in keeping up with the children’s book market. Anyway, it’s great that you found a place on her list. Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack were written by Shannon Hale and her husband Dean, btw, illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation), which puts you in the company of not one, but two Newbery honor authors–Ingrid for Savvy and Shannon for Princess Academy.