Paranormal fiction, also called supernatural fiction or speculative fiction, is a specific type of fantasy fiction. Paranormal stories encompass elements of the paranormal, such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and any sort of magical or otherworldly creatures. This type of fiction often goes beyond fact and logical explanations to speculate about the things that cannot be seen or proved, such as extrasensory perception (ESP) and alien life. There are several different categories of paranormal fiction, such as young adult (YA) fantasy, urban fantasy, supernatural horror, and paranormal romance.
This particular type of fiction can actually span across several genres, which are different classifications of stories. For instance, some books in the mystery genre may have paranormal elements, such as a psychic detective or a villain who uses magic or special powers to do his evil work. Likewise, supernatural romance often contains elements of mystery or horror along with the classic romantic plot lines. The lines between genres often blur, so novels written in other genres, such as science fiction or historical fiction, could also be classified as paranormal fiction.
Some of the most popular categories of paranormal fiction today have their own specialty classifications. Urban fantasy, for example, typically involves an urban or city setting. Often, the main character will use magic or other paranormal powers in the story. Many urban fantasies feature underground worlds full of such characters as vampires, ghosts, werewolves and other creatures of which the main characters become aware throughout the stories.
Young adult paranormal fiction is written for teenagers and young adults, so the narrative usually contains at least a little bit less sex and violence than books written for an adult audience. Some YA stories, however, do have a great deal of violence and even some sexual situations. Middle-grade paranormal fiction is written for preteens, so the violence is typically kept to a minimum or only implied rather than being explicitly described.
Paranormal novels are not the only type of paranormal fiction that is available. There are several online and print magazines that publish an occasional paranormal short story, while some dedicate themselves to paranormal fiction. Speculative fiction has become so specialized, that many magazines or even sections of a bookstore feature certain categories of paranormal stories.
It is important to note that though this genre can encompass elements of mystery or horror fiction, it does not always do so. Horror fiction that involves someone killing people in creative ways might not have any type of paranormal elements at all. An urban fantasy that deals with reality but falls into the fantasy category because of its made-up setting might also not qualify as a paranormal story if there are no magical or otherworldly elements.