"You will find that vampires are not nearly as frightening as they used to be. Where they once haunted forbidding castles atop distant mountains, these days they hang out at high schools, trying to pick up impressionable teenagers. They rarely turn into bats anymore, and sunlight just brings out their inner glam rocker."If, as a reader, you were told twenty years ago that a book was "fantasy", you knew that it would contain elves and dragons and made-up place names that sounded vaguely Welsh. There would be a magic sword, a dungeon, and a scary Dark Lord whose shadow over the land had to be eliminated by means of a quest, often involving tossing something small into someplace inaccessible, because 90% of genre fiction (like 90% of everything) is derivative, unoriginal dreck.
Nowadays, if someone tells you that a book is "fantasy", it is best to ask if it is "urban fantasy", because the latter, despite the similar-sounding genre name, is not at all the same thing. Sure, it may contain an elf, but if it does, she's a bisexual wiccan detective elf who owns an occult bookstore in Miami and only increases her psychic powers through knockin' the boots. People who would rightly be ill at the thought of necrophilia suddenly find it a turn-on if the corpse is still walking around, has fangs, and looks like Robert Pattinson.
Why this is called "urban fantasy" is not entirely clear to me. I mean, kindly old professor Tolkien's work contained quite a few scenes set in the large city of Minas Tirith, and we don't call it "urban", perhaps because he resisted the urge to have a werewolf jump out and hump Eowyn's leg. And the settings of the books in the "urban fantasy" section don't seem to be, on average, any more urban than any other genre. And they're certainly read and enjoyed in the country and the 'burbs as much as the city.
Anyhow, if you want to know if you're in the part of the bookstore that has elves and dragons or the part with supernatural soft-core Mary Sue, just look around at the covers of the books. Do they all feature a goth-y chick with her back turned, a tramp stamp, and an athame (for you squares, that's an elaborate dagger found mostly at head shops and wymyn's book stores) clenched in one hand? Then here be no dragons.