Happy Pride! In between the parades and parties, relax with books that celebrate the range of diversity. From epic fantasy to urban steampunk, here are some recent novels featuring LGBTQ+ characters for your reading pleasure.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up and see red sails on the horizon.
The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They will conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, join the Masquerade, and claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
Trust no one with anything—especially in Amberlough City.
Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.
Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything—not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives—dictate his life.
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
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.
Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
On the island of Kavekana, Priestess Kai builds gods to order—sort of. Kai’s creations are perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the Old World. For beyond the ocean, true deities still thrive, untouched by the God Wars that stransformed the city-states of Alt Coulumb and Dresediel Lex.
When Kai tries to save a friend’s dying idol, she’s gravely injured—then sidelined from the business, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and digs into the cause of the idol’s death, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear that will break her if she can’t break it first.
Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey
In this epic fantasy series, step into the land of Terre d’Ange, a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.
A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
A Companion to Wolves is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a wolfcarl—a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father’s heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go.
The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though the supernatural creatures have not come in force for many years. Men are growing too confident. The wolfhealls are small, and the lords give them less respect than in former years. But the winter of Isolfr’s bonding, the trolls come down from the north in far greater numbers than before, and the holding’s complaisance gives way to terror in the dark.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Set in the late nineteenth century—in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground—when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town.
Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
Green by Jay Lake
Her exquisite beauty and brilliant mind were not enough to free her from captivity. That took her skills with a knife, plus the power of a goddess.
She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name—her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a courtesan…and the skills of an assassin…she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke’s collection of beauties. She calls herself Green.