If you told me that I could only read or write about one supernatural creature for the rest of my life, I would choose the fae. This isn’t me trying to trash talk werewolves or demons or anything. It’s just that the fae can fill their role just as well. They’re like the jack of all trades of urban fantasy.
Let’s take vampires. They’re alluring, dangerous creatures who drain their victims of blood. Kind of like the Leanan-Sidhe, a beautiful but deadly fae who inspires poets and artists but drains their life in the process.
Or do you like werewolves and shifters? Let me introduce the púca, a fairy who can transform into a horse, cat, hare, and other animals.
Fae can easily take the place of ghosts too. In fact, one early belief about fairies is that they’re spirits of the dead. The classic signs of a haunted house—objects being broken, inhabitants having bad dreams—are the same antics mischievous fae get up to.
Does your story need a villain? The fae are notorious for stealing babies, cursing people who cross them, and just generally causing misfortune to unsuspecting mortals. Or maybe you’re looking for a sidekick, in which case there’s always the fairy companion. Love interest? Wise old mentor? A fae can play the part.
And you don’t have to look far to find books with fae heroes, be they princesses, private detectives, or warriors.
You won’t have to read the same type of story over and over, because the fae can fit a wide variety of tones. We’ve all seen cute little fairies fluttering around flowers, but I prefer fae a little on the creepy side: unearthly creatures lurking in dark forests; ruthless fairy queens who trap unsuspecting mortals in Otherworld; a seemingly-normal stranger whose true nature isn’t revealed until it’s too late.
There are so many kinds of fae and countless different stories to tell with them–and I’ve just touched on Western European folklore, not the variety of fae creatures worldwide.
If I had to choose just one supernatural creature, they’re my pick. But they’re not the only right answer to that question. So let me know in the comments: if you could only read about one supernatural creature for the rest of your life, which one would you choose and why?
5 thoughts on “Opinion: Why the Fae are the most Versatile Creatures in Urban Fantasy”
YES. THIS. ALL OF THIS. You’ve got your Selkies, your merrow, your wood nymphs, your Daoine Sidhe… there are so many varieties of faery tale to choose from!
I’m going to have to look into the Leanan Sidhe now, too – they sound fascinating!
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Completely forgot about selkies and water fae! Great point.
And yes, Leanan-Sidhe are super interesting. I see them occasionally in urban fantasy novels but could definitely use more.
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Ah yes, the Fair Folk are indeed one of the most diverse legendary creatures on Earth. They can be tall or small, have any assortment of wings or none at all. They can be beastly or angelic, human or elemental. Great stuff.
My favorite type of fae has to be gremlins. No not the movie, though those are great examples of mischievous fae. No, I’m talking the originals that used to wreak havoc on planes and other machinery. At the dawn of aviation, these little critters got blamed for system malfunctions and other things that would go wrong (hopefully not mid-flight!). As avionics advanced and our understanding of aeronautics advanced with it, stories of gremlins died out. Some say it’s because science dashed our ignorance of these remarkable machines and was better able to explain the causes of these mysterious failures.
I have a different theory. When planes were first being built, they had to be made out of light weight materials or they’d fall out of the sky or never get up there in the first place. Engineers would use naturally occurring materials like wood and fabric. Once engine technology advanced, planes could be made out of heavier elements. Things like aluminum and steel. And iron…
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I think gremlins are fascinating! So many creatures of folklore have been around for hundreds of years, but gremlins only popped up in the 1900s.
And whoa–love your theory about iron. Never thought of it before. That’s brilliant!
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