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Paranormal Noir… Is What, Exactly?

paranormal noir

By Suzanne Johnson

When my fellow authors and I embarked on the project to do a paranormal noir anthology of all-new novellas, we deliberately decided not to set out a definition of what “paranormal noir” meant.

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In its broadest form, it simply means a dark paranormal story. In its most derivative form, it would pattern itself on film noir, with the cynical world-wearing hero, the tough-talking sexy woman, and probably a gangster or two who’d end up forcing the hero out of his cynical laissez-faire attitude and propelling him to action.

By deliberately not setting out with a definition of paranormal noir, we thought we’d get a wide variety of interpretations although each of the authors—Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan, and myself—all write somewhere in the urban fantasy-paranormal romance spectrum.

And we were right.

Rachel Caine, in “Marion, Missing,” draws most heavily on the film noir world with her setting of 1940s Texas, a private investigator, and the ghost of the PI’s former partner. Is she real, this ghost, or is she a figment of his own psyche? You’ll have to decide, but if “Marion, Missing” were turned into a film, it would be grainy black and white, and definitely film noir.

Cynthia Eden kept the cynical P.I. and tough-talking woman aspect of film noir in “Femme Fatale.” Hero Mick is a former cop shot one too many times to do anything but desk work, so he’s evolved into a down-at-heels private investigator.  When Savannah walks into his office, tough and beautiful, he just wants the big paycheck she’s offering him to take her case—at first. Then, you know, there are vampires.

In “Dance with the Devil,” Megan Hart focuses on the “noir” part of paranormal noir, with Kathleen Murphy—a beautiful, successful author—owing her looks and success to the devil himself. And the devil drives a hard bargain. This is no sexy, misunderstood Satan. This is the heart of darkness, and Kathleen has to decide when she’s had enough, and what jumping off the devil’s dance floor will cost her.

In “The Consort,” I decided to go strictly with dark paranormal, moving from Faerie to New Orleans with Faulk, a legendary Fae Hunter, and his quarry Liandra, desperate to escape sexual servitude to the cruel Summer Prince. I guess the Fae Hunters—basically an extension of the Wild Hunt moved into New Orleans to track down wayward members of the fae—are sort of world-weary P.I. types…well, no, not really.

Both Jeffe Kennedy’s “Heart’s Blood” and Mina Khan’s “The Djinn in the Mirror” are dark fairytale retellings. “Heart’s Blood” takes on “The Goose Girl,” and the Brothers Grimm go even grimmer in this dark tale of the Princess Nix—forced into servitude by her evil maid-in-waiting—and the noble Prince Cavan. It takes magic to fix what’s wrong in this dark story.

IN Khan’s “The Djinn in the Mirror,” the tale of Cinderella is transformed into a young witch, her evil wizard stepfather, and Ashmael, a djinn trapped inside a mirror in her attic. Dahlia needs help surviving her stepfather, and Ashmael wants his freedom. Can they both get what they wish for?

So we come back to the question: What is paranormal noir? In the end, it’s paranormal and it’s dark…and whatever else you might want it to be!

Do you have a book you’ve read that you’d consider “paranormal noir”?

paranormal noirDark Secrets:

A Paranormal Noir Anthology

Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan

Genre: Paranormal Noir,

Romance, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication:  September 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942840-05-3


Number of pages: Approx. 350

Word Count: Approx. 150,000

Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design

Book Description

Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.

MARION, MISSING by Rachel Caine

Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he’s been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won’t let him turn it down. He owes her that much … since his partner’s a ghost, and he’s the one who killed her. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.

FEMME FATALE by Cynthia Eden

PI Mick Swayne has seen it all—his clients have included liars, thieves, and even killers. He thinks he can handle anything and anyone. Then she walks into his office. Savannah Moreau is beautiful, seductive, and…a vampire? The gorgeous vamp hires Mick to help her track down a killer who is hunting in Chicago, but as Mick slips deeper into Savannah’s paranormal world, he wonders if he can really trust his new client…


When the devil starts the music, you’d better get ready to dance.

Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success…everything she’s ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil’s bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil’s started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps.

THE CONSORT by Suzanne Johnson

Faulkner Hearne, the captain of the ruthless Fae Hunters, finds his duty at odds with his heart when he’s ordered to capture the consort of Faerie’s cruel Prince of Summer when she flees across the veil into modern New Orleans. Can Faulk turn Liandra over to a certain death at the hands of the prince, or will he risk a war with Faerie in order to save her? An all-new novella set in the Sentinels of New Orleans multiverse.

HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy, a Twelve Kingdoms novella

A dark fairytale retelling of a princess robbed of rank, husband and even her name.

Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix….With broken vows, anguish and dark secrets between them, Cavan and Nix struggle to find the magic to restore what’s gone terribly wrong… if it ever can be.

THE DJINN IN THE MIRROR by Mina Khan, a Djinn World novella

A paranormal Cinderella story with a young witch as the heroine and a wicked, sexy djinn instead of a fairy godmother….Dahlia, the step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, promises to free a djinn trapped in a mirror if he rescues her from impending death. But Ashmael the djinn has his own agenda: to trick & seduce his way to freedom. The only problem is he ends up falling for Dahlia. Can he win his freedom and save the girl?

paranormal noir

About the Authors

Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than 45 novels that span the categories of horror, suspense, urban fantasy, science fiction, media tie-in, historical, and young adult. She’s also the author of more than 100 short stories.

Twitter: @rachelcaine


Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Twitter: @cynthiaeden


Megan Hart is a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author who writes in many genres including mainstream fiction, erotic fiction, science fiction, romance, fantasy and horror.

Twitter: @megan_hart


Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series as well as The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, winner of the 2015 Holt Medallion and the 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner for romantic suspense. Her new Wildlife Wardens romantic suspense series begins in 2016 with Wild Man’s Bluff.

Twitter: @suzanne_johnson


Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, the fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms, and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under. The first of the Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Twitter: @jeffekennedy


Award-winning author Mina Khan grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns, ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. She is the author of the Djinn World Chronicles, including The Djinn’s Dilemma and A Tale of Two Djinns, as well as Wildfire, a paranormal mystery with cowboys and dragons.

Twitter: @SpiceBites




1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Paranormal Noir… Is What, Exactly? | Lisa's Louisiana Home

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