Everything in the Whole World.
Okay, I'm kidding here. But when an author is THIS BAD, the list of stuff you should read instead is so long that it blows your mind.
These are now considered some of the best examples of the genre. The first two books are kinda wobbly and generic, but it really gets brilliant with the third one, and everything goes up up and away after that.
One of the best things about this series is how incredibly full and well-populated this universe is - you've got three different breeds of vampires, five kinds of werewolves, ghosts, faeries of two courts plus an array of others, wizards, holy Knights, angels, a talking skull, ghouls, zombies, demons, the Fallen, and whatever else Butcher wants to throw into the mix. And yet his books never feel crowded or busy, mainly because he doesn't include everything into every book - and he weaves together stuff like vampires and the mafia. Furthermore, he takes the series in places that most UF series never dare to go, including KILLING the main character and enslaving him to a cruel faerie queen, killing whole species and introducing others.
And even better, his books are so GEEKY and genre-savvy. Quite a few homages to the great JRR Tolkien, lots ofStar Wars gags, Monty Python jokes, and mockery of silly genre cliches like the bad guy standing there talking about his evil plan. It also has some awesome moments like a vampire being killed by a frozen turkey, human cop Murphy slaughtering a plant fae with a chainsaw in Wal-mart and... well just look!
It's a zombie T-rex running through the streets of Chicago, being controlled by a mortician playing a one-man polka suit. Does it get any more awesome than THAT?
And now we have Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series.
On the surface, this seems like just another Anita Blake knockoff: tough woman with awesome weapons who is underappreciated in her job and spends a lot of time dealing with weres, vampires and so on. However, Andrews succeeds at EVERYTHING Hamilton fails at. Kate starts off a little too angry, but soon she becomes a really strong, take-charge heroine who has some rather shocking secrets in her past. AND she pals around with a pretty-faced traumatized werewolf teen, and does NOT have sex with him, nor does she seem interested in it. Try finding THAT elsewhere in urbfan.
Additionally,her world is REALLY brilliant and dark, with magical waves that knock out technology, and an Atlantis swarming with monstrous vampires, sorcerers and weres ruled by a werelion. So if you want a tough kickass female character, look no further than this.
So I'm sure you're asking, why the hell is Gaston Leroux on this list? He's an awesome and classic author who penned one of the greatest... sort of horror-love stories ever, but he doesn't really have anything to do with an urban fantasy series, does he? Well, in the third book of this series, The Phantom of the Opera gets royally assraped. I wish I were kidding.
Basically I assume that Gryphon saw that movie adaptation with Gerard Butler, and decided to retcon the entire story in Leroux's book because he didn't write the Phantom as
instead of this
And I guess she hates Christine for turning down the Phantom in favor of the mentally stable guy. Points for Christine above Bella Swan.
But I digress. The point is that Gryphon TOTALLY RAPES Leroux's book - in her books, Leroux's awesome book was all a malicious lie by the evil shallow slut Christine as revenge for not screwing her, and the Phantom is a hottie man-child with a vast penis who can only be healed of his psychological issues by having sex with Gillian. I am not making any of this up.
I mean, WHAT THE HELL?
As with Leroux, you're probably wondering, "What the hell?" with this. I mean Tolkien never wrote urban fantasy - he was all about the awesome genre-creating HIGH fantasy. Well, like many of us, Gryphon is a big fan of Tolkien and his works. Who isn't? They are like the Sistine Chapel of fantasy.
Here's the problem: the rest of us don't write Tolkien INTO our books, and announce that Tolkien's masterful works were all inspired by our sex-obsessed elves, that he never created his brilliant fictional universe but just copied it from Elvish history, and negate his WHOLE LIFE'S WORK. That is unbelievable arrogance, and I goggled when I first read it, thinking "Oh no she DID NOT." And it doesn't even make logical sense because Tolkien's entire fictional world is partially rooted in his religious beliefs, but there's no Judeo-Christian God in her works! Even though there ARE angels. GAAAAAAA!
Anyway, read these books, because unlike Gryphon's they don't suck.
Another classic book raped by Gryphon's apparent need to turn classic villains into hotties. I won't spoil the fourth and final book for you, but let's just say Dracula, the most menacing and eternal vampire EVER to grace our pages... gets royally fisted as a character. And before that, he's depicted as a 2-D <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AxCrazy">Crazy Evil Person</a>, with no complexity beyond that - he's just a convenient villain. GAAAAAAHHHHHH.
Radu R. Florescu and Michael Augustyn
In case you want to find out about the actual historical Vlad Tepes after he gets assraped by Gryphon as well, these books can give you some insights that she didn't bother to look up. If he were still around, I bet he'd sue her and Francis Ford Coppola - a worse fate than being impaled ass-first on a stake.