Street urchin fantasy is an amazing genre that is based on a simple premise. Authors have taken a fictional street urchin and built a story around them into some of the most epic, intriguing, and fascinating novels in the fantasy genre. If you would like to learn more about street urchin fantasy, keep reading to find out why this is a great genre to explore.
What is a street urchin?
To better understand street urchin fantasy as a genre, it is helpful to know what exactly a street urchin is. It may be a term that you have heard before without really knowing what it means. A street urchin is a child who spends a lot of time on the streets. Typically, these children are orphaned, but not always. Street urchins are often involved in illegal activities such as theft, but oftentimes, this is just a means for survival.
There are countless examples of street urchins in popular culture. Movies, books, and television have depicted street urchins for many years. Street urchins are known for getting into trouble with authority, and this can be seen in just about every depiction of street urchins. In many cases, street urchins will band together and travel and work in a group. Some, however, prefer to be alone.
Street urchins are generally looked down upon. They are dirty, troublesome children who are, frankly, a nuisance most of the time. They are often the hero of their story, as audiences love to root for the underdog. Because of their humble living situations and financial situations, it is hard to be a reader or viewer who does not have a soft spot in their heart for a street urchin.
What is Street Urchin Fantasy?
With an understanding of street urchins in general, it’s fairly simple to understand street urchin fantasy. A street urchin fantasy is any fantasy novel that has a main storyline featuring a street urchin. As we know, street urchins are typically children, but they can also be teenagers or young adults. There is no hard and fast rule about the age of a street urchin.
Street urchin fantasy is appealing to many readers for many reasons. The idea of an orphaned child fending for themselves is usually a crowd-pleaser. When you add in an element of magic to that premise, you often have a recipe for success. The magical elements in a street urchin fantasy are typically fairly small elements. Generally, there are no dragons or epic battles, but this is not always the case. More commonly, however, the magical elements are understated and simple, as we will see in the examples below.
Examples of Street Urchin Fantasy
Because the term “street urchin” can be interpreted in a number of ways, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories in the genre to choose from. Each of these stories depicts street urchins in different ways, so there is often a new adventure awaiting the reader.
Many street urchin fantasy series begin with a street urchin storyline in the first novel, but then move away from the genre in later novels. It is common for fantasy series to tackle several different genres throughout the series, so this is almost to be expected. In the examples below, each of the series really only fits into the street urchin genre in the first novel.
And each of the novels or series below will give you a great look into the street urchin fantasy genre. Who knows; maybe you will walk away with a new favorite genre of fantasy!
The Thief Lord
The Thief Lord is a 2000 novel by Cornelia Funke. This novel is technically a children’s novel, but it definitely has elements that appeal to an older audience, as well. The Thief Lord follows a group of orphaned children in Italy who live in an abandoned movie theater. They steal items and sell them for money, and survive by moving from place to place.
The fantasy element of this novel is very interesting and unique. The street children meet a man who has a magic carousel that makes old people young and causes children to instantly grow up. The magic surrounding this carousel is mysterious and fascinating to both the reader and the children in the novel.
Readers looking for a simple yet intriguing street urchin fantasy novel will likely find much of what they want in The Thief Lord. The characters are flawed and well-developed, the magic is unique, and the storytelling is strong.
The Mistborn series is a series of epic fantasy novels by Brandon Sanderson. There are many books in this series, and they are all a bit different from the last. The first novel in the series is titled The Final Empire and it suits the street urchin fantasy genre the most. This novel has an abundance of magic, its own universe, and plenty of action.
The Final Empire begins with a group of street urchins who are looking to start a revolution. One of the main characters, Vin, is a young street urchin who is developing her magical powers. She teams up with some of the other characters to take down the evil leaders of their world.
Though the characters in this novel are not street urchins throughout the entire series, it gives them humble beginnings and definitely puts this novel into the street urchin fantasy genre. The Mistborn series works its way through several different fantasy genres, so it is a great choice for many readers.
The Night Angel Trilogy
The Night Angel Trilogy is a series of fantasy novels by Brent Weeks. If you have not heard of this series, it is definitely one to check out. This trilogy follows Azoth who is a street urchins training to be the ultimate magical assassin. The first novel in the series is The Way of Shadows and it is the novel in the series that best fits into the street urchin fantasy genre.
This novel takes place in a fictional world that is full of crime, murder, and mystery. As Azoth begins his training as an assassin, he makes friends along the way. He and his friends survive on the streets by stealing money and food. It is a classic street urchin story with a very interesting magical twist.
For anyone looking for a great street urchin fantasy trilogy, this is a great place to start. The magic in this series is also well thought out. The characters are somehow both likable and unlikeable. And the storyline will keep you hooked.
I hope this article has helped clarify what this genre is all about and given you some ideas of books to read in this subgenre.
And if you want to read more about unique fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another fiction-literature-related topic!