by Mur Lafferty)
In The Shambling Guide to New York City and its sequel Ghost Train to New Orleans (out this month), travel writer Zoe Norris discovers that there is a secret world of coterie, or supernatural creatures, hidden from the rest of us.
If vampires, zombies, and succubi existed, they would probably travel around the United States just as we do -- relocating for jobs, visiting friends and family, or just being a tourist. But they'd be concerned with slightly different details: What's the local blood supply like? Where can they escape the burning daylight?
Below are the 10 best cities for a supernatural creature on the go, where a banshee might blend in, a fairy could feast, and a satyr could see a show. If you're visiting one of those cities, keep your eyes open. New Orleans's parades, Las Vegas's bright lights, and New York's crowds attract millions every year, and some of the same things would appeal to people who aren't quite like the rest of us. Who knows what you might glimpse in the shadows?
10. Research Triangle Park, NC
Intellectual demons might find the Duke or UNC or any other university libraries rich catacombs to comb, and immortal heroes may wish to visit the sporting events of the local colleges. Fun fact: A short drive (or burrow or flight) to the east will put you in the swampy areas of the state, the only places many carnivorous plants call their natural home. Fairy hunters may find it a challenging place to safari, or obtain a plant-hunting license.
9. Los Angeles, CA
Where else in the world can you find more people willing to worship stardom than Hollywood? Any god or beautiful being, be it vampire (they would have to watch the California sun, naturally!) or fairy or deity would find a visit to LA very reinvigorating. In a place where beauty and youth is valued above all else, anyone who thrives on worship (and is beautiful, anyway) would love to visit.
8. New York City, NY
Possibly the most popular U.S. destination for travelers, New York City is crowded and busy and no one looks each other in the eyes, would make it a wonderful city for people of all supernatural kinds to visit. The intricate subway and tunnel system could be quite welcoming for all ground and cave-dwelling supernatural folk, and vampires to travel around easily. The numerous parks within the city might even be a haven for nature-loving sprites and fairies, having access to both fresh and salt water.
7. San Francisco, CA
The history of San Francisco is fascinating, and one of the most interesting dots on the timeline features Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I. He died in 1880 but the very strangeness of his existence has left marks on the city. Why did he suddenly think he was divinely chosen to lead the U.S.? Was he mad, or were there other factions at work? Looking into the history of Norton and his support of the immigrant population of the city might reveal much more information than simply human influence…
6. Boston, MA
Like New York, Boston has a welcoming underground system, the recently completed Big Dig, which makes it relatively cleaner and fresher than the New York subways system just by the fact that it’s newer. (The age of the city can also come into account: The rich history of the city’s humans is possibly mirrored by its supernatural denizens, if they colonized when the humans did.) The very Irishness of the city could make it very welcoming for any Irish supernatural folk, such as leprechauns, pookas, or banshees.
5. Honolulu, HI
Creatures with a connection to fire or water would find Hawaii a welcoming place. Volcanoes would be a comfortable place for fire demons and gods to relax.
4. Orlando, FL
So many places here have strict politeness rules ground into their employees, nearly all non-photophobic supernatural creatures would be able to attend the parks and not get harassed. Of course, it’s possible such a visitor would be mistaken for a movie monster or villain or, if they’re one of the very beautiful fairy races, one of the princesses or princes in the parks. The one key to visiting Orlando: All creatures would have to bring a gift or sacrifice on every visit to the new, powerful god of the area, The Mouse.
3. Portland, OR
While it wouldn’t be a place for zombies or any other creature who doesn’t thrive in humidity, Portland still provides a setting and a social atmosphere that could be welcoming to those who like a green community that honors nature and acceptance. Beings that thrive on female energy, all nature sprites and gods, and even vampires (not a lot of sun in the winter, and a lot of blood donation) could enjoy a nice relaxing stay there if they’re looking for peace.
2. Las Vegas, NE
Vegas, being home to winners and losers of all stripes, would be a wonderful place for the supernatural to vacation. The nightlife is the life in Vegas, so vampires and the like might flock that way. (The fact that it’s a desert town would make it both dangerous and exciting.) Zombies, too, could benefit from the lack of humidity in the air. Gods and demons who benefit from the worship of money, or luck, or numbers, or excellent clothing could also find it a wonderful place to visit. (Although it would be considered a hostile environment to any being connected to the water.)
1. New Orleans, LA
This town is so weird that no one would look twice at someone with fangs, strangely textured skin, people who prefer only to come out at night, or people who like to hang out in cemeteries. And this even includes the non-Mardi-Gras time of the year; there are always parties. If someone stopped a creature on the street, they only would need to indicate they’re on their way to a party and the person would more likely than not leave the creature alone! Adult clubs would be buffets for succubi and incubi, and the swamps outside the city would be welcoming to many creatures who find humid areas more welcoming than city streets.
Pictures by (in order): BOBISTRAVELING/FLICKR, Getty Images/Velta, zorani via Getty Images,
Shutterstock / Nithon, Getty Images/FLICKR OPEN, Vito Palmisano via Getty Images, Hooray I'm Helping/Flickr, Paige Baker via Getty Images, Tim Shields BC/Flickr, John Wang via Getty Images.