Jess Mahler spent a couple hours combing through werewolf romances on Amazon the other day before coming back and crying on the team’s shoulders about how hard it is to find monster stories that aren’t full of “destined mate” or “alpha male” bullshit.
Paranormal romance and urban fantasy are full of some really nasty tropes, many of which fully deserve a place on our “No! Tropes List.” But we keep coming back to them, combing through the bad ones for the rare gems that we finish with a sigh of utter contentment.
Why do we love monster stories so much? Why do we put ourselves through so much trouble to find monster stories that don’t fall prey to the nasty tropes?
Because WE Are Society’s Monsters
The black man in his hoody who just wants to walk down the fucking street in peace, the trans woman who just wants to take a piss, the autistic enby who just wants to be seen as a whole person and not a broken jigsaw puzzle. We are society’s monsters–to be either hunted down or locked away.
So we love our monster stories. Werewolves, vampires, witches, dragons, the nightmares of European civilization. In our books, they have their own secret societies. They hide from hunters or fight back. Or they exist openly in “human” society. They live, and love, and THRIVE. And in them we see ourselves. The unloved, the unwanted, the outcast. The strong, the resilient, the tough ass bitches.
Like the monsters we love, we have built our own societies, our own communities. We have existed in the shadows, either hiding from those who hunt us or fighting for recognition from those who shun us. Sometimes both at the same time.
So bring on the werewolves, the selkies, the fae. We’ll read about vampires, dragons, wizards, and ghosts. Because you know the best thing about urban fantasy and paranormal romance?