January’s Hot Topic – Harry Potter: UF yes or no?

Once a month watch for a hot topic of discussion in UF Land. Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts! This month: Are the Harry Potter books urban fantasy?


Urban fantasy is under discussion over at the Leaky Lounge forum, which caught my eye, as did this post over at The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler Gent., both of which got me wondering, could Harry Potter be UF?

Let’s check the quicky definition: Urban? Check. Though most of the books take place at Hogwarts, there are parts that are in an urban setting. Dark? Definitely check. Though the first book was PG, the story get steadily darker with every installation. Sexy? See, now, this would depend on whether you are a) a teenager or b) a pedophile. Certainly, the characters have potential to become sexy as adults, but this is not part of the world we are shown. And while Ron & Hermione’s and Harry & Ginny’s relationships are explored in The Deathly Hallows, I don’t believe they get enough ‘screen’ time to count as a subplot, and a love story subplot is part of what defines a UF. By the quicky definition, the Harry Potter books come in with less than 2/3 of the criteria.

hermione.jpgRomance, while hinted at, is suspiciously missing from Harry Potter land. We don’t get a sniff of romance between the teachers at Hogwarts. The relationship between Mr & Mrs Weasley is just like it would be for any couple who’ve been together that long and have raised 7 children– namely, void of passion. Theirs is a romance of friendship and longevity. The closest thing to a romance we get is between Lupin and Tonks, and look how that turns out.

Certainly there is fantasy, and what fantastic fantasy it is! Rowling should insure her imagination for whatever she can get for it. I absolutely love to read what she’s come up with and this is the thing I will miss the most now that the series has ended. The plot of the novels as a whole is more of a quest, though it does strike several UF notes. Harry stumbles into the wizarding world. He has to fight the biggest, baddest bad guy to get a normal life back. But again, these are secondary to the more prominent themes of coming-of-age and accepting oneself and one’s place in the world, themes which are applied more to YA and traditional fantasy stories.

And then there’s the problem of Harry. Urban fantasy’s traditionally centred around female characters, however one of the best UF series is Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden Files. But Harry Potter is no Harry Dresden. Dresden is tougher and sexier– there’s that difference between adults & kids thing again.

So what do you think? Is Harry Potter UF?


2 comments on “January’s Hot Topic – Harry Potter: UF yes or no?

  1. I think Harry Potter is YA UF. I never considered one of the criteria for UF as sexy. I realize there’s lots of sexy UF out there, but not all of it is. There might be a hint of romance, or a promise of something spicier to come, but sexy? I’ll say 50/50 on that one.

    It’s funny, but many of the readers in my 380 member paranormal mystery group who love urban fantasy gravitate toward the YA UF to get away from the romance. Many of them just don’t like romance in their UF, especially if it’s too sexy. For me, as long as it’s urban and it’s fantasy, I’m all over it. Romance and sex? As long as it doesn’t take over the story, I’m okay with it.

    I’d say Ron and Hermione were throwing sparks towards the end. And let’s not forget Harry’s infatuation with Cho!

  2. Hi Karen,
    I think you’ve brought up a lot of valid points. And this, “Many of them just don’t like romance in their UF, especially if it’s too sexy” is particularly interesting.

    UF has such a wide cross-over appeal. I do like to hear about what people like and dislike about it.

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