The quintessential urban fantasy novel is set in a contemporary, real life city but with magical elements, such as witches, vampires, or shifters. Of course, there’s a lot of variation in what exactly gets referred to as urban fantasy! You can find novels labeled “urban fantasy” that are set in small towns or in other worlds, but the vast majority use a “our modern world but with magic” setting. The genre has it’s own tropes and expectations going beyond the setting; for instance, mystery-based plot lines are another common feature.
Paranormal romance overlaps with urban fantasy in terms of setting and many of its tropes but it has a greater emphasis on the romantic elements. Love interests are often fae, vampires, or shifters. It combines romance with danger, mystery, and magic!
Urban fantasy and paranormal romance covers overlap a lot! That’s part of why I’m discussing them in the same space. Before I get into things like costuming and setting, I want to talk about an important aspect that authors don’t always recognize — colors and contrast. Indie urban fantasy books have a strongly defined look, with bright, saturated colors and lots of contrast. I go more in-depth on this blog post on urban fantasy academy book covers!
Costuming is a defining difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Urban fantasy heroines (and it’s usually a heroine on the cover) tend to wear pants, denim, and leather. They are prepared for action! Paranormal romance heroines are more likely to wear a dress. If there’s a shirtless man, than the book is almost guaranteed to be paranormal romance as opposed to urban fantasy!
Other commonalities for urban fantasy and paranormal romance covers include:
If you’re interested in commissioning me to create a cover for you, visit my custom covers page to find out more and contact me! I also have some epic and high fantasy premade book covers available. These are covers where I’ve already created the art but have used a place holdder title and author name, which can be replaced with the name and title of the author who purchases it. You can find my premades here.