Sapphic literature is only growing in popularity. More and more people are aligning with the term, as it involves lesbians, bisexual women, non-binary people, and those women who don’t fit into labels but find themselves attracted to women.
As a result, sapphic and lesbian literature has seen a boom in sales and a boost among fans.
Sapphic novels are often set within sci-fi or fantasy worlds, where two women must come together to fight for the greater good in a world that seeks to banish them.
If you are on the hunt for a sapphic novel, or a science fiction fantasy novel that includes LGBTQ+ characters, then I have a few recommendations on my list for you.
If you are looking for a Sci-Fi or Fantasy Sapphic romance, then you will enjoy the likes of Girls Of Paper And Fire, Of Fire And Stars, The Seep, The Space Between Worlds, She Who Became The Sun, The Never Tilting World, Crier’s War, Court Of Lions, The Deep, and The Unbroken.
Themes In Sapphic Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels
In many sapphic sci-fi and fantasy novels, identity plays an integral role. The characters must come to terms with their identity and often end up in a coming-of-age sort of story, learning new things about themselves.
Of course, sapphic literature has elements of romance. Often, the characters go through the enemies-to-lovers trope or are shown as competitors at first, who slowly come to the realization of their deep attraction for one another.
As sapphic literature is based upon women, and the female condition, sisterhood plays an important part.
Whether the characters fall in love or not, two women entwine in an interesting plot where it’s them against the world who often rely upon each other as friends and as partners.
15+ Sapphic Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books
Girls Of Paper And Fire By Natasha Ngan
If you want a riveting story set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world, then this young adult novel will fit the bill.
Ngan spins an intricate tale in a beautifully descriptive world, where the protagonist, Lei, is part of the most persecuted class of people.
Lei lives in a quiet, remote village with her father, dealing with the trauma of her mother being snatched by royal guards.
Not knowing what happened, Lei is haunted by this to this day. She trains and learns all of the skills and charm she would need as a King’s consort.
In the modern day, Lei has piqued the King’s interest with her stunning beauty, but she falls in love with someone she shouldn’t have. The forbidden romance will soon come to threaten all she holds dear.
This book has two sequels, Girls Of Storm And Shadow, and Girls Of Fate And Fury.
- Filled with strong female characters rising up against their oppression
- Has elements of Asian mythology infused into a beautifully rendered fantasy
- Subverts the typical tropes and keeps you hooked
- Some readers found it too similar to the popular Children Of Blood And Bone.
Themes: Identity, Fantasy, Forbidden Love, Persecution, Perseverance.
Of Fire And Stars By Audrey Coulthurst
Of Fire And Stars is another beautiful sapphic story. The book follows Princess Dennaleia who has been betrothed to the prince of Mynaria since childhood.
She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, as the marriage will unite two hostile kingdoms.
But, Denna has an affinity for fire, and a gift of magic, which is forbidden in the kingdom. She must hide her true self, and learn the ways of her new life.
She also has to learn how to ride Mynaria’s warhorses and is taught by the unconventional Princess Amaranthine, the sister of her betrothed Prince.
When an assassination takes place, Amaranthine and Denna must join together to look for the culprit. Soon enough, their friendship begins to blossom into something far more powerful.
Of Fire And Stars also has a sequel called Of Ice And Shadows, if you can’t get enough of Mare and Denna’s relationship.
- Has an LGBTQ+ romance
- Interesting breaking of gender roles
- The magic in this novel is unique and easy to comprehend
- This book can be slow at times, which frustrates readers.
Themes: War, Fantasy, Female Leads, Sapphic, Sisterhood, Identity.
The Seep By Chana Porter
The Seep is the debut novel by Chana Porter. The story encompasses a fifty-year-old trans woman, Trina, whose life is changed forever when the world is invaded by an alien entity called The Seep.
In The Seep, everything is interconnected. Social constructs are broken, hierarchies fall, and the political norms of the world Trina once knew start to crumble. Everything is now possible.
Trina and her wife live under the Seep’s influence happily, until her wife begins to wonder if she should be reborn as a baby in the hope to find a better life.
As any dream can become a reality with the Seep, Trina’s wife makes this dream come true, and Trina is heartbroken.
This story explores some dark themes, along with ideals of love, grief, alienation, and loss.
- A heartbreaking tale of grief and loss that you can relate to
- Includes a transwoman as the protagonist
- Short and sweet at 216 pages
- Due to its short length, it can be hard to understand the world of The Seep, and the premise and power of the aliens.
Themes: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Alienation, Sapphic, Love, Transformation, LGBTQ+
The Space Between Worlds By Micaiah Johnson
Named the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, this novel follows an outsider who can travel between various worlds. Within this multiverse, Cara’s parallel selves are always dying, but she has survived.
As so many of her counterparts have died, Cara is able to travel to many worlds. This becomes a source of power, and Cara is taken from the wastelands and used as a perfect candidate for multiverse travel.
She works for the Eldridge Institute, with Dell, hoping to gain citizenship and security in the wealthy area of Wiley City.
When another doppelganger dies under strange circumstances, Cara is plunged into another world filled with secrets.
She must uncover her past and understand her role in a plot that could destroy all multiverses.
- Won the Goodreads Choice Award and was nominated for Best Science Fiction in 2020
- Deals with the concept of identity and finding your purpose in life well
- Has the theme of a murder mystery interwoven into the plot
- Deal with a lot of traumatic experiences which can be upsetting for some readers.
Themes: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Sisterhood, Sapphic Romance, Identity, Privilege.
She Who Became The Sun By Shelley Parker-Chan
She Who Became The Sun is a widely acclaimed, and award-winning book. This is the first book in the Radiant Emperor Duology, followed by He Who Drowned The World.
In this novel, a female monk, Zhu, will do anything to possess the Mandate Of Heaven.
Two poor children are saddled with opposing fates. A boy is given greatness, and the girl is given nothing. The book is set in China in 1345, under Mongol rule.
When the Zhu son, Zhu Chongba dies, his sister uses his identity to enter a monastery under his name. She does everything she can to survive and hide her true identity.
- Nominated for Best Fantasy and Best Debut Novel in 2021
- Has the trope of a woman pretending to be a man to live in a male-dominated society
- Deals with queer desire and identity well
- While the ending is action-packed, the middle section is very slow-paced and hard to keep up with.
Themes: Fate, Destiny, Identity, Alienation.
The Never Tilting World By Rin Chupeco
In the Never Tilting World, twin goddesses have always ruled Aeon. This was until one sister’s betrayal split the world in two. The kingdom is divided, with one living in eternal sun, and one in eternal darkness.
Both sisters rule their kingdoms, and both have a daughter. The daughters must go on a dangerous adventure on their journey to try and mend the broken world.
This book has four interweaving perspectives, stunning world-building, and a star-crossed romance that will keep you turning the pages. This book is also followed by the sequel: The Ever Cruel Kingdom.
- An epic teen fantasy
- Characters are well-written and fleshed out
- A story of how love conquers all, including LGBTQ+ characters
- There are a lot of triggering themes in this novel.
Themes: Sisterhood, Magic, Fantasy, Star-Crossed Lovers, Young Adult.
Crier’s War By Nina Varela
Crier’s War is a beautiful novel with a rich epic fantasy. It is about a star-crossed love between two girls, one who is human, and the other is ‘Made’.
Ayla is a human servant trying to rise up in society at the House of Sovereign because she wants to avenge her family by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.
Lady Crier was ‘Made’ to be absolutely flawless, beautiful, stunning, and to carry on the legacy of her father. She is betrothed to be married, but this was before she met Ayla.
A stunning sapphic romance and fantasy book, it is followed by the second in the series, Iron Heart.
- If you want a truly Sapphic romance, then the story of Ayla and Crier is filled with desire, betrayal, tentative romance, and power dynamics
- In a world filled with oppression, the protagonists come together to escape the horrors around them
- Has the trope of rivals becoming lovers
- The political unrest in this novel can slow down the pace at times.
Themes: Fantasy, Star-Crossed Lovers, Sapphic Romance, Political Power, Identity,
Court Of Lions By Somaiya Daud
Court Of Lions is book two of the Mirage series. It follows Amani, who has been forced into isolation, on a planet that is nearing revolution.
She has been taken from the boy she loves, and has lost contact with the other rebels in order to protect her family.
In being a rebel, Amani may have lost the trust of Princess Maram, and she fears she could be executed. But Maram has a plot- she wants her to take her place in the festivities of her marriage, and in return, Maram will keep Amani’s secret.
Amani is thrust into the drama, having to navigate the court on the Princess’s behalf.
- Filled with complex female characters
- Features a villain-to-hero story arc
- Moroccan culture is weaved into the plot, making for a fascinating setting
- The plot is often too focused on the women, and not the overarching villain or storyline.
Themes: Fantasy, Sisterhood, Identity, Coming-Of-Age.
The Deep By Rivers Soloman
This novel is inspired by the award-nominated song The Deep from Daveed Diggs’ rap group. It focuses on the protagonist Yetu, who holds all of the memories of her people.
They are water-dwelling descendants of African women thrown overboard during the slave trade. They now reside in the deep.
Their memories are too painful, so they are stored by a ‘historian’, which is Yetu. She remembers everything, the good, the bad, and the terrible. She tries to escape the deep to leave the memories behind.
On her journey, she learns so much more about the past and her people. If they are going to survive, they have to understand and remember who they really are.
- Nominated for Best Science Fiction in 2019
- The author’s work is poignant, creative, unique, and makes for an interesting read
- Explores the themes of memory and belonging well, but throws in the folktale trope of mermaids
- This book is shorter than some readers would like.
Themes: Identity, Memory, Fantasy, Racism, Science Fiction.
The Unbroken By C.L. Clark
Set in a crumbling desert land, two women fight over the price of the nation. One is a Princess, and the other is a soldier.
Touraine, the soldier, was stolen as a child and taught to kill for the empire, and Luca is a Princess, hoping to find a way to help the rebels find peace.
With assassinations, espionage, breathtaking settings, an epic fantasy, and a sapphic romance, this is a complex and exciting story that you won’t be able to put down.
- Nominated for Best Fantasy in 2021
- Deals with colonialism in a respectful manner
- Clark does a great job of maintaining suspense and engagement
- Readers find one of the protagonists, Touraine frustrating and illogical at times.
Themes: Sapphic Romance, Fantasy, Enemies-To-Lovers, Political Power, Peace.
If you want to find a new sapphic sci-fi and fantasy novel to get hooked on, then hopefully I’ve covered some new interesting reads here for you.
Whether you prefer your books on the fantasy side, or more sci-fi orientated, the novels on this list have something to offer for everyone, with strong female leads, romance, and the enemies-to-lovers trope that we all just love.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Sapphic Novel?
Sapphic is a term used to describe a woman of any sexual orientation who is attracted to other women or another woman.
This includes those who are lesbian, bisexual, queer or women who do not identify as lesbian or bisexual.
A sapphic novel, therefore, revolves around the story of a woman attracted to another woman.
Is Girls Of Paper And Fire Sapphic?
Yes, Girls Of Paper And Fire can be considered a sapphic novel. The two girls in this novel come together to make each other stronger and better people.
- 20 Must-Read Genre-Blending Literary Fiction Books - May 26, 2023
- 32 Gripping Epic Fantasy Books To Transport You To Another World - May 26, 2023
- 12 Books Like Red, White, And Royal Blue You Will Love - May 17, 2023