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Queer reads are something that has always existed among fiction, especially genre fiction, but it is has only recently been the case that they’ve allowed to start emerge from the shadows. That doesn’t lesson the role they’ve always had, though, as many people have a compelling argument that the driving force for Trekkiedom (the godfather of all modern fandom) was actually slash fiction.

Still, it can sometimes be hard to find fiction where the characters aren’t minor, killed off quickly, or allowed to express their sexuality. Plenty of other readers also assume any queer friendly work has to be focused on romance. As a queer friendly author, I know it’s not THAT hard to put a prominent character in your stories but finding books containing said content can sometimes be a chore.

What are the books where the characters are LGBTQA and simply allowed to be? Well, here’s my picks as a CIS heterosexual man as clearly everyone is clamoring for my insight. JK. I’ve tried to pick a mixture of indie and traditional.

10. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Blurb: The first book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s Hollows series!

All the creatures of the night gather in “the Hollows” of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party . . . and to feed.

Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining—and it’s Rachel Morgan’s job to keep that world civilized.

A bounty hunter and a witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she’ll bring ’em back alive, dead . . . or undead.

Review: The Hollows is an extremely fun urban fantasy series following the adventures of Rachel Morgan and her best friend Ivy that just about everyone wanted to hook up among the fandom but, sadly, didn’t. Still, while Rachel seems mostly straight, Ivy remains a fantastic bisexual motorcycle riding vampire detective that really could have handled her own series. She’s also a rare Asian American protagonist.

9. Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar

Blurb: Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack. Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions.

Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her? Why was he the only one who cared?

Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?

Review: Legacy of the Brightwash is a fantastic book that is up there with Kings of Paradise for being an argument that indie doesn’t mean lack of literary quality. Tashue is a bisexual man and one torn by the obligations of duty in his steampunk world that treats everyone with magic with horrifying rules as well as suspicion. Unfortunately, the choices forced on him include dealing with it appearing in his own family. Read Our Review 

8. Miskatonic University: Elder Gods 101 by Matthew and Mike Davenport

Blurb: Miskatonic University is bathed in the blood of the students who have walked its halls. A place where the darkness is more than just shadows.

As with many of the best universities, many students having a distinguished family name—but at Miskatonic this can be as much a curse as a blessing.

Such an aged repository of occult histories has secrets of its own. Miskatonic University is an anchor for all reality. Held tentatively in place by spells woven into its walls over generations.

Someone, somewhere, is breaking those spells and all of the universe is on the brink of tearing apart.

Review: I am going to be biased toward any queer friendly HP Lovecraft material and had quite a bit to choose from (as another entry will show). In this case, I had to recommend a delightful SUPER POWERED’s esque urban fantasy that is more Buffy the Vampire Slayer than cosmic horror. Still, I love the character of Ralph who wants to leave his isolated religious community to play football as well as express his sexuality. It’s just that community is Innsmouth. Read Our Review

7. Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

Blurb: Come take a load off at Viv’s cafe, the first and only coffee shop in Thune. Grand opening!

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start filling mugs instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners, and a different kind of resolve.

Review: The archetypal example of “cozy” fantasy these days. Viv is an orc who just wants to open a coffee shop in a Medieval Dungeons and Dragons-esque setting. She’s also a lesbian. This results in her having an awkward relationship with her succubus employee, who everyone has dismissed as a tart because of her species. It’s actually really sweet and something that I would have loved to have a sequel to follow up on (instead we got a prequel). Review; Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

6. The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

Blurb: Katherine Addison returns to the glittering world she created for her beloved novel, The Goblin Emperor, in this stand-alone sequel

When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin.

Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honesty will not permit him to live quietly. As a Witness for the Dead, he can, sometimes, speak to the recently dead: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty use that ability to resolve disputes, to ascertain the intent of the dead, to find the killers of the murdered.

Celehar’s skills now lead him out of the quiet and into a morass of treachery, murder, and injustice. No matter his own background with the imperial house, Celehar will stand with the commoners, and possibly find a light in the darkness.

Katherine Addison has created a fantastic world for these books – wide and deep and true.

Review: I love THE GOBLIN EMPEROR but, sadly, Katherine Addison wasn’t interested in continuing to write for the character of Maia. However, she was interested in continuing to write for her world. Thara Celehar is a priest who has the ability to talk to the dead. He’s also a gay man who has had tragedy in his backstory but may well find love again (but isn’t actively looking). Through him we get to explore the steampunk fantasy setting of Addison’s world and its many mysteries. Who murdered an opera singer and what was their motivation? Will anyone accept the disgraced priest who, nevertheless, now has friends in high places? Review; The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

5. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

Blurb: Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly sensual, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

Review: It’s interesting to note the subtext was never particularly subtextual but a lot of people insisted it was until the movie and television show made it impossible to deny. Yes, Louis and Lestat are lovers with their adopted vampire daughter Claudia. There’s also a bunch of musings about immortality, God, killing to survive, and the ennui of living in general. The series goes off the rails after the fourth book and was already pretty strange by the third. Still, the first two books are classics for a reason.

 

 

4. Villains don’t date Heroes by Mia Archer

Blurb: Night Terror. The greatest villain Starlight City has ever known. The greatest supervillain the world has ever seen. She rules her city with an iron fist, and there are no new worlds to conquer.

Needless to say life is pretty damn boring.

All that changes when she decides to shake things up by robbing a bank the old fashioned way and runs into the city’s newest hero: Fialux. Flying Fialux. Invulnerable Fialux. Super strong Fialux. Beautiful Fialux?

Night Terror has a new archenemy who might just be able to defeat her, but even more terrifying are the confusing feelings this upstart heroine has ignited. She doesn’t like heroes like that. She definitely doesn’t like girls like that. Right? Only she can’t deny the flutter she feels whenever she thinks of Starlight City’s newest heroine!

The line between hate and love is a razor’s edge that the world’s greatest villainess will have to walk if she wants to hold onto that title!

Villains Don’t Date Heroes! is a lesbian scifi romance novel that explores the world of villains, antiheroes, and heroes in a whole new way!

Review: I admit this book is probably not going to be anyone’s idea of a classic but it’s also nice just to have something that’s just plain fun. This is basically Megamind if the protagonist was a lesbian and in love with Supergirl. It’s not remotely serious and yet has a lot of fun with our mad inventor heroine dealing with her very unwelcome crush that is interfering with her plans to take over the world. I didn’t really gel with the series as a whole but the first book is just plain fun.

3. Dreadnought by April Daniels

Blurb: A trans teen is transformed into a superhero in this action-packed series-starter perfect for fans of The Heroine Complex and Not Your Sidekick.

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Review: Probably one of the best superhero novels I’ve ever read that just so happens to also be a trans lesbian coming of age story. Danny is a girl who lives under a homophobic father when she gains the idealized form she’s always dreamed of (which was being a beautiful superpowereful woman). Unfortunately, not everyone in the world is ready to accept that the heir to the Superman equivalent is a trans girl. This includes a TERF-esque druidess and what is basically Elon Musk (surprise-surprise). I want the third book in the trilogy now. Read Our Review

of honey and wildfires2. Of Honey and Wildfires by Sarah Chorn

Blurb: From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil. What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.

The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all. Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.

Review: Sarah Chorn is an incredibly underrated indie author and a fantastic reviewer as well. Her Song of the Sefate books are the ones that everyone should read, though. Basically, Wild West stories set in an alternate world where they harvest a magical substance called shine. The protagonists are a lesbian and a transman who are primarily dealing with the plot of resistance to corporate control. It can get dark but it is fantastically written and written from a place of heart. Review; Of Honey and Wildfires by Sarah Chorn

1. Winter’s Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

Blurb: After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra’s life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

Winter Tide is the debut novel from Ruthanna Emrys, author of the Aphra Marsh story, “The Litany of Earth”–included here as a bonus.

Review: Ruthanna Emrys is a Jewish lesbian woman as well as a massive HP Lovecraft fan. You can understand why she has a different perspective than Howard Phillips on a few things. Her Innsmouth Legacy series (which needs a third book dammit) follows the adventures of Aphra Marsh as she investigates the supernatural with a closeted Jewish FBI agent, a lesbian professor of mathematics, and her bisexual debutante associate. Aphra herself is ace and someone who just doesn’t think about human men or women that way. Review; Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys (Pride Month)

Honorable Mention

Velveteen Versus the Junior Super Patriots by Seanan Maguire

Blurb: “How dare you? I never asked for you to hunt me down!” No, Velma Martinez hadn’t. But when you had once been Velveteen, child super-heroine and one of The Junior Super Patriots, West Coast Division, you were never going to be free, even if your only power was to bring toys to life. The Marketing Department would be sure of that.

So it all came down to this. One young woman and an army of misfit toys vs. the assembled might of the nine members of The Junior Super Patriots, West Coast Division who had come to take her down.

They never had a chance.

Velveteen lives in a world of superheroes and magic, where men can fly and where young girls can be abducted to the Autumn Land to save Halloween. Velma lives from paycheck to paycheck and copes with her broken-down car as she tries to escape from her old life.

It’s all the same world. It’s all real. And figuring out how to be both Velveteen and Velma is the biggest challenge of her life, because being super-human means you’re still human in the end.

Join us as award-winning author Seanan McGuire takes us through the first volume of Velveteen’s – and Velma’s – adventure.

Review: I’m a big fan of this series and am sad that it’s not available on Kindle or paperback. The story follows Velvet Martinez who is a girl who can animate toys. Which is a deceptively powerful ability. One of the most interesting plotlines in the book, though, is her relationship with Sparkle Bright. Velvet assumed she had been going for her crush going up but she was actually a closeted lesbian girl (because of the Marketing DepartmentTM). Sparkle Bright gradually achieves self-actualization and starts a relationship with steampunk heroine, Victory Anna. Plus, there’s the Princess who is a trans girl representing all princess tropes. Favorite LGBTQIA characters in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Pride)

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