Why is paranormal romance so popular?

Vampires, shape-shifters, psychics, mages, ghosts, zombies, and more: the romance genre is full of things that go bump in the night…in more ways that one. 😉

Paranormal romance and urban fantasy exploded onto the shelves in the late 90’s and are still going strong today. Although trends come and go within the genre, overall it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. We just can’t get enough!


What is it that makes paranormal and urban fantasy so popular? Here are a few possibilities:

  • It lets us get away from our everyday lives. Your boss is a jerk, your dinner exploded in the microwave, and your cat just barfed on your favorite shoes. But pick up a the right book and you’re not just whisked away to somewhere different—you’re whisked away to somewhere awesome, where people slay demons and date vampires, read minds, and talk to ghosts. Everything is bigger, brighter, and more magical—even the grungy bits. Heck yeah, sign me up for that, baby!
  • It exercises our imaginations. Once we’re out of elementary school, we aren’t really encouraged to be imaginative on a daily basis any more. All those fun books about dragons and genies disappear from the classroom, and we’re told to read about Important Serious Stuff. Then it’s college with more facts and figures, and a job, and ugh. PNR, urban fantasy, fantasy, and science fiction reconnect us with our imaginations. What would it be like to turn into a wolf, or live through a zombie apocalypse, or sleep with an empath, or cast a spell?
  • The dream of being special. Fated mates are hugely popular and for good reason. If someone in real life came up to you and said you were the one person in the entire world for him and were fated to be together forever, you’d be calling the police while macing his face. But a werewolf or a vampire in a story? Suddenly it’s gone from creepy to romantic.

What about you guys? Why do you think PNR and urban fantasy remains so popular? Even better, why do you personally like to read it? Let me know in the comments!

Posted June 13, 2012 by jordan in books, writing / 7 Comments

7 responses to “Why is paranormal romance so popular?

  1. I’m cheating a little, because I’ve blogged on this before, too (http://liv-rancourt.blogspot.com/2012/03/you-bet-im-proudly-paranormal.html). I think your reasons are all solid – especially romance behind the idea of a fated mate, which isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about, but my favorite reason for the popularity of the paranormal is that so much is demanded of women in contemporary society, it takes a supernatural figure to keep up with us. Like, we’re supposed to be naughty and nice and independent and submissive, all while stuffing our pedicured toes into hootchie-mama pumps. It’s a touch world out there, you know, and you’re right, a fantasy vampire is sometimes just the thing to take us away from it all.

    • jordan

      Great blog, Liv! I think you’re absolutely right we need larger-than-life heroes and heroines to provide an escape, and that the bar on that is constantly being raised as our lives become more and more complex and demanding. Makes me wonder what we’ll be reading about in another fifty years!

  2. For me, it’s all about the heroine. In PNR/UF they aren’t likely to sit around on their butts waiting to be rescued-they’ll get themselves out of trouble (or IN it sometimes!). And frankly, supes make the tropes more interesting.

    • jordan

      So true! I love it when characters are partially responsible for their own troubles, then have to work their way out of it (or even redeem themselves for it). If you’re a supernatural bad-ass, getting yourself in trouble doesn’t seem quite so TSL, since you’re not used to finding yourself in a situation you can’t handle.

  3. Oh man… for me, I’m obsessed with the True Blood series. I mean, sexy ass vampires, weres and Jason Stackhouse! How can you pass on that. It’s a touch drama, a touch fantasy and a touch soft-core porn.

    I think we women always want the non-existent man.

    I also think it’s part of human nature. If we didn’t dream up the impossible, we wouldn’t have cars, planes, space walking etc. If you would have told someone in 1901 about computers and the internet they would have put you down like a lame horse. Humans dream of the impossible, we create it. It’s no surprise we want to see/read it too.

    • jordan

      Oh yeah, can’t beat those sexy vamps! I really need to Netflix True Blood since I don’t get HBO. I know, I know, I’m in danger of getting my Paranormal-Obsession Club membership revoked, right? 😉

      “Humans dream of the impossible, we create it. It’s no surprise we want to see/read it too.” – Well said. I agree completely.