Discover the 6 Best Queer Fantasy Books to Read Now

Fantasy books have always been a staple of literature, transporting readers to magical worlds full of imagination and wonder. Queer fantasy, in particular, has become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a unique perspective on typical fantasy tropes and themes. In this article, we’ll explore the best queer fantasy books available now, from classic novels to contemporary must-reads.

Discover the 6 Best Queer Fantasy Books to Read Now

Understanding Queer Fantasy: A Genre Overview

Before diving in, it’s essential to understand what queer fantasy is and why it matters. Queer fantasy is a genre that features LGBTQ+ characters and explores themes of sexuality and gender identity within the context of magical worlds and otherworldly creatures.

Defining Queer Fantasy

Queer fantasy can encompass a wide range of sub-genres, from high or epic fantasy to urban or contemporary fantasy. The defining element of this genre is the representation of queer characters, whether as protagonists or side characters, who challenge societal norms and expectations.

One sub-genre of queer fantasy is paranormal romance, which features supernatural creatures such as vampires, werewolves, and witches. These stories often include same-sex relationships and explore themes of forbidden love and societal prejudices.

Another sub-genre is portal fantasy, where characters are transported to other worlds or dimensions. These stories often involve characters discovering their true selves and identities as they navigate new and unfamiliar environments.

The Importance of Representation in Fantasy Literature

Representation in literature is crucial, especially for marginalized communities who have been historically underrepresented or misrepresented. Queer fantasy offers a platform for LGBTQ+ readers to see themselves reflected in literature and feel seen, heard, and valued. It also helps to combat harmful stereotypes and ensure that diverse perspectives are represented in literature.

Not only does queer fantasy provide representation for LGBTQ+ readers, but it also allows non-LGBTQ+ readers to gain a deeper understanding and empathy for the experiences of queer individuals. By normalizing queer characters and relationships in literature, it can help to break down societal stigmas and promote acceptance and inclusivity.

Furthermore, queer fantasy can also serve as a form of escapism and empowerment for queer individuals who may face discrimination and marginalization in their everyday lives. It allows them to imagine a world where they are not only accepted but celebrated for who they are.

In conclusion, queer fantasy is an important and valuable genre that provides representation and empowerment for LGBTQ+ individuals, promotes empathy and understanding for all readers, and helps to combat harmful stereotypes and societal stigmas. Its impact on the literary world and on society as a whole cannot be overstated.

Top Queer Fantasy Books You Can’t Miss

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the best queer fantasy books available now? From classic novels to contemporary must-reads, there’s something for everyone in this list.

Classic Queer Fantasy Novels

“Bastard Out of Carolina”

Bastard Out of Carolina: A Novel

One of the pioneers in queer fantasy is Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, which explores themes of poverty, abuse, and sexuality through a Southern gothic lens. This novel follows the story of Ruth Anne Boatwright, known as Bone, who grows up in a family plagued by poverty and abuse. As Bone navigates her adolescence, she discovers her own sexuality and the complexities of her family’s history.

“The Mists of Avalon”

The Mists of Avalon: A Novel

Another classic novel is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, which subverts the classic Arthurian mythos by placing women and queer characters at the center of the narrative. This retelling of the Arthurian legend is told from the perspective of the powerful women who shaped it, including Morgaine, Arthur’s half-sister and a powerful priestess, and Viviane, the Lady of the Lake.

Contemporary Queer Fantasy Must-Reads

“The Priory of the Orange”

The Priory of the Orange Tree (The Roots of Chaos)

One of the most notable contemporary queer fantasy novels is The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, a high fantasy novel set in a world of dragons, magic, and treacherous politics. This epic novel follows a diverse cast of characters, including a queen fighting to protect her kingdom from a powerful dragon, a scholar researching the history of dragons, and a dragon rider caught in the middle of a political conspiracy.

“The House in the Cerulean Sea”

The House in the Cerulean Sea (Cerulean Chronicles Book 1)

For something more whimsical, try The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, which follows a caseworker named Linus Baker who is tasked with investigating an orphanage for magical children. As Linus gets to know the children and their peculiar caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, he begins to question everything he thought he knew about the world.

Queer Fantasy Books by Diverse Authors

“The Gilda Stories” by Jewelle Gomez

The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition

Representation behind the scenes is just as important as on the page, which is why it’s essential to highlight queer fantasy books by diverse authors. The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez centers on an African American vampire named Gilda who seeks refuge within a queer community throughout different periods in history. As Gilda navigates her immortality, she grapples with issues of identity, family, and love.

“The Black Tides of Heaven” by JY Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven (Kindle Single) (The Tensorate Series Book 1)

Another must-read is The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang, which follows a pair of twins born into a world of magic and politics where gender identity and sexuality are fluid. As the twins navigate their complicated relationship with their mother, a powerful matriarch, they must also confront their own identities and the role they will play in shaping the future of their world.

Whether you’re looking for classic novels, contemporary must-reads, or books by diverse authors, these queer fantasy books are sure to captivate and inspire you.

Exploring Queer Fantasy Themes and Tropes

One of the most exciting aspects of queer fantasy is the exploration of unique themes and tropes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most prevalent.

Love and Relationships in Queer Fantasy

Queer romance is a common theme in fantasy literature, and it’s no different in the queer fantasy genre. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera is a queer love story that follows two powerful female warriors who share a forbidden love. The novel explores the complexities of their relationship as they navigate societal expectations and the pressures of their respective roles. The author beautifully weaves together themes of love, loyalty, and sacrifice to create a captivating story that will leave readers wanting more.

Witchmark by C.L. Polk is another queer romance novel that explores themes of class, politics, and forbidden love. The novel follows the story of a young man from a powerful family who falls in love with a mysterious stranger. As their relationship deepens, they must navigate the dangerous political landscape of their world and fight against those who seek to keep them apart.

Queer Worldbuilding and Magic Systems

Queer fantasy often subverts traditional fantasy worldbuilding and magic systems, providing unique and fresh ways of exploring thematic elements. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson features a cast of diverse characters, including a queer protagonist, immersing readers in African-inspired mythology and culture. The novel explores themes of identity, power, and the struggle for acceptance in a world that seeks to marginalize those who are different.

Similarly, The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling features a queer protagonist navigating a deep cave system full of terrifying creatures and hidden secrets. The novel explores themes of isolation, survival, and the power of human connection in the face of adversity. The author masterfully weaves together elements of horror, science fiction, and queer romance to create a thrilling and unforgettable story.

Challenging Gender Norms and Stereotypes

Gender identity is a prevalent theme in queer fantasy, often challenging societal norms and stereotypes in creative ways. The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk features a world where gender identity and sexuality are fluid and fluid power structures exist. The novel explores themes of community, resistance, and the power of collective action to create change. The author’s vision of a world without gender-based oppression is both inspiring and thought-provoking.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson subverts the traditional “chosen one” trope by featuring a protagonist who navigates her way through a world of corruption, politics, and betrayal while challenging gender norms and expectations. The novel explores themes of power, identity, and the struggle for agency in a world that seeks to control and manipulate those who are different. The author’s nuanced exploration of gender identity and its intersection with power dynamics is both insightful and compelling.

Queer Fantasy Books for Young Adults and Teens

Queer fantasy for young adults and teens has become increasingly popular in recent years, providing representation and inspiration for young queer readers. As the world becomes more inclusive, so does the literature that reflects it, and the genre of queer fantasy is no exception. These books offer a safe and imaginative space for queer teens to explore their identities and see themselves represented in the stories they love.

Coming-of-Age Queer Fantasy Stories

One of the most prevalent themes in queer YA fantasy is the coming-of-age story. These stories often explore themes of self-discovery, identity, and acceptance. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is a fun romp that follows a teenage witch navigating a magical school filled with mythical creatures and challenges. The protagonist, Sophie, is a relatable and endearing character who learns to accept herself and her powers as she navigates the ups and downs of high school. Ash by Malinda Lo is a retelling of Cinderella through a queer lens, exploring themes of love, sexuality, and finding oneself. The protagonist, Ash, is a young girl who falls in love with a fairy, and must choose between her love for the fairy and her duty to her stepmother.

Queer Fantasy Adventure Series for Teens

For something more action-packed, try Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, a Harry Potter-esque adventure that follows a teenage magician who must navigate romance, school, and a magical war. The protagonist, Simon Snow, is a powerful magician who is also struggling with his feelings for his roommate, Baz. The tension between Simon and Baz is palpable, and their relationship is both sweet and complicated. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is another must-read series that follows a group of teens navigating magic and romance in a sleepy Virginia town. The characters are complex and well-developed, and the relationships between them are nuanced and authentic.

Empowering Queer Protagonists in YA Fantasy

Empowering queer protagonists is an essential element of YA fantasy, providing inspiration and representation for young queer readers. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is a swashbuckling historical adventure that follows a teenage bisexual protagonist on a grand tour of Europe, filled with romance, danger, and various shenanigans. The protagonist, Monty, is a charming and flawed character who learns to accept himself and his sexuality as he navigates the challenges of his journey. The Brilliance Trilogy by Marcus Sakey features a diverse cast of characters, including a gay protagonist who must navigate a world full of individuals with superhuman powers while facing challenges to their rights and identity. The protagonist, Nick, is a complex and relatable character who is forced to confront his own prejudices and biases as he fights for justice and equality.

With so many fantastic queer fantasy books available, there has never been a better time to delve into this exciting and important genre. Whether you’re a fan of classic or contemporary fantasy, established or emerging authors, there’s something for everyone in the magical worlds of queer fantasy literature. Happy reading!


What does queer mean?

Queer is an umbrella term used to describe people who have a sexuality or gender that does not conform to heteronormative expectations.

How do queer fantasies differ from other fantasies?

Queer fantasies will feature characters who explicitly do not conform to heteronormative ideas surrounding sexuality and gender. In regard to the narrative, queer fantasies can be high, dark, light, or cozy fantasies.

What is the most popular queer fantasy novel?

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell, The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samatha Shannon, and Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir, are all incredibly popular pieces of queer fantasy fiction.

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