Assaph Mehr’s entry into this year’s contest has a bit of Latin flair, and more than a bit of actual Latin. In Numina is set in Egretia, a nation akin to a magical Ancient Rome. This oversimplification doesn’t do the setting justice; In Numina’s attention to detail and clearly well-researched worldbuilding are impressive, and make for an unexpectedly fun fantasy.
Urban Fantasy tends to come in two varieties. The first is a female heroine who is a dhampir, witch, or shifter who is investigating some horrible series of crimes while not quite fitting into either the human or supernatural world. The second is a male protagonist who is usually a wizard, loosely based on John Constantine (or Harry Dresden) and snarky as hell. Before you think I'm criticizing this, I should mention that I wrote I WAS A TEENAGE WEREDEER about a snarky investigator caught between two worlds and THE SUPERVILLAINY SAGA about a male wizard based in part on Harry Dresden.
A MURDER IN ABSENTIA tackles what is a common problem in fantasy and tackles it in an amusing way. One of the bigger issues in the genre is that almost all of it takes place in a faux-Europe during the Middle Ages. This series takes place in a fantasy version of Ancient Rome and fully immerses itself in the unique customs as well as culture to make an entertaining 30 A.D. murder mystery. The series also incorporates sorcery, Mystery Cults, and other wackiness that enhances the tale.