Feature image credit: @whenreadingattacks
The most important thing to focus on when hunting down LGBTQ fiction isn’t whether or not the main characters are queer, or maybe the writer. It’s the story. A world full of passion, intrigue, mystery; a book that isn’t about the struggles of being queer in an everyday world, but about a world that exists with people who happen to fall on the LGBTQ spectrum. These books hopefully fit that bill. Some of them feature stories about the realities of LGBTQ life—but most of them are amazing tales of heroes, heroines, gays, and those who want adventures of their own.
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (March 23, 2021)
Surprise, surprise—another fantasy recommendation! This book. This book. Let’s just say it starts out rough, gets rougher, until you’re no longer sure if you’re reading or reading for your life. In this North African-inspired military fantasy, you’ll be hooked and dragged along with the Lesbian main character as she dodges intrigue after intrigue. And if that doesn’t hook you, the author calls this book “real gay”—and if you still need enticement, check out the heroine’s guns on the cover.
The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis (May 18, 2021)
In a scientific based magical world that is a mash up between a historical fiction and a steampunk novel, lamplighters, or mysterious elite monster hunters, fight both evil and conspiracies in gaslit-era Prague. This book has a detailed Penny Dreadful feel that sucks you right in. (There’s a pun there you’ll get when you read the book)
In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland (May 18, 2021)
A pansexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead. If that summary provided by the publisher doesn’t scream read me now, then you might be dead. In which case, hang tight so you can team up with your very own mage and see what secrets you can uncover. This riveting fantasy has pansexual, ace, and non-binary representation.
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (May 25, 2021)
The second book of the Runaway Royals Series by Alyssa Cole is a romance that follows Madeka Hicks clawing her way back up from a major breakup and losing her job all at once. In a nutshell, it’s a contemporary Anastasia retelling with Black Lesbians. If that doesn’t sell you, you might be dead. The author throws in an ‘only one-bed’ trope for anyone lurking reluctantly on the one-click button.
Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve (April 13, 2021)
Another YA contemporary, but this one follows trans student Dean Foster who struggles with his new identity when the world around him is still the same. Or is it? This is a heart-warming tale of a trans hero who is finding his place as he navigates high school and an upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. The overall theme of this book will resonate with anyone who identifies as LGBTQ: there’s no right way to be yourself.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by NGHI Vo (June 1, 2021)
This book is something you didn’t even know you needed until it falls into your hand. A Great Gatsby fantasy retelling with an Asian magic-wielding heroine set in the 1920’s Jazz Era. Plus, most of the characters in this book are bisexual/pansexual. This isn’t just a classic tale retold, it’s a treatise on the merging of some of the most sensitive and pressing topics today, like race and sexuality.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (June 1, 2021)
If you read Red, White, and Royal Blue by McQuiston then you know what you are in for: sexual tension out the wazoo from characters you can’t help but connect with. Not only do you get queer representation in this book, but a seemingly plus-size heroine. The author doesn’t straight-out call her plus-size, there is a language that leads the reader to that conclusion. This romcom also features some found family goodness. Definitely a feel-good book for summer.
Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura (June 8, 2021)
This book is a YA romance featuring an Asian main character who enters into a fake relationship agreement with another girl to make her ex jealous. Think To All the Boys—but even better. That’s it. That’s the premise. In a refreshing twist, this rom com’s main conflict is more about the fake dating trope than the characters being queer. A rarity when it comes to LGBTQ YA fiction.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (June 10, 2021)
In this YA thrill ride, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé throws down the gauntlet by challenging readers to face the treatment of these Black characters head-on. This book is dark, gritty, and twisty for a YA novel. Even adults will be drawn in and held tight by Àbíké-Íyímídé’s riveting debut. According to the author, this book is Get Out meets Gossip Girl—but Black and queer. Take a chance on this dark academia rollercoaster; you won’t be disappointed.
The God of Lost Words by A.J. Hackwith (November 2, 2021)
This is the third book in the Hell’s Library Series. Dang, it’s a wonderful year for LGBTQ fantasy. The basic premise of this world is a library, in hell, that catalogs and “guards” all the unfinished works by authors. This world is another one where most of the characters are some variations of not straight. Another refreshing example of a fantasy featuring bisexual, pansexual, and queer characters where the story isn’t focused on the queer experience of the characters, but lets them live their adventurous lives.
Special Mention if I may be so bold: Saint by Sierra Simone. (2021 date to be determined)
This in the third book in Simone’s Priest Series. It follows the third Bell brother, Aiden, as he finds love, possibly with a Monk. As usual, there will be scorching hot love scenes, a M/M couple, and likely incredibly inventive levels of kink. Read at your own risk.