Welcome to the best queer books of 2021! It’s always a joy to put together this list and marvel at the amazing LGBTQ+ work that writers and artists are putting out. This year was particularly great for nonfiction, so I’ve expanded that category from the usual five to eight books. The literary / contemporary fiction section is similarly eight instead of five books; there is consistently so much good stuff to choose from there that I can’t bear to narrow it down to five. 2021 was also a great year for queer horror, so you might notice this year it’s its own category instead of being combined with fantasy. Now, onto the books!
- Comics / Graphic Novels and Memoirs
- Historical Fiction
- Literary / Contemporary Fiction
- Memoir / Biography
- Middle Grade
- Mystery / Thriller
- Science Fiction
- Young Adult Contemporary / Historical
- Young Adult Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror
Comics / Graphic Novels and Memoirs
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
Bechdel’s graphic memoir is, superficially, about fitness and exercise. But more profoundly it’s a meditation on the interwovenness of the body and mind, the search to escape the prison of your own ego, and the profound power of nature. The art is classic Bechdel: precise, detailed, realist, and full of movement. Check out this Autostraddle interview with Bechdel about the book.
Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto and Ann Xu
Queer BIPOC elder representation shines in this graphic novel about Kumiko, a bisexual Japanese Canadian woman in her 70s who finds death has come too early for her. She intends to fight it. Xu’s art is exact and generous as it takes care to depict an elderly woman with dignity and to create an affectionate portrayal of East Vancouver.
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai
This alternately joyful and heartbreaking graphic novel in gorgeous blue-shaded watercolor tackles themes of family and vulnerability. Bron and Ray are a couple who enjoy their role as the weird queer aunties to Ray’s 6-year-old niece. At the same time as their intimate connection falters, both Ray and Bron reach out to their sisters, attempting to mend those relationships.
Red Rock Candy Baby by Shira Spector
Formally innovative in a way that is reminiscent of Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Spector’s unique graphic memoir covers an eventful ten years of her life. During that time, she struggled to get pregnant, her father was diagnosed and passed away from cancer, and family and partner relationships changed. The story begins in stark black ink; Spector slowly introduces color until it explodes into a full, bright palette.
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle
A dark feminist horror comic with a sapphic romance subplot and vintage horror aesthetics, Squad is a clever blend of The Craft and Buffy with a werewolf focus. Becca is the new girl at a posh school and is amazed when the popular clique recruits her. Surprise: They’re a werewolf pack.
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
This dark, gripping military fantasy novel is concerned with colonization and racism, based on France’s occupation of North Africa. A soldier and a princess — both complex, fallible characters in their own right — each grapple with the emotional and practical horrors of empire, as well as with each other.
In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu
This novella is a beautifully layered and fragmented tale about surveillance, stories, belonging, and what makes a life worth living. It follows Amina, an extrasensory human, and how aer life changes after a chance encounter with a mysterious visitor to the city ae is tasked with watching.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
A queer reimagining of the story of the Ming dynasty founding emperor, Parker-Chan’s novel bursts with lyricism and heart. Zhu Chongba is a young boy given the fate of greatness. But it is he who perishes in a bandit attack, leaving his sister — fated to nothingness despite her intelligence and capability — behind.
The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
The second installment of the Drowning Empire epic fantasy series, The Bone Shard Emperor follows Lin as she assumes the throne amidst less than ideal circumstances. A unique magic system, alternating perspectives, and an action-packed last quarter make for a satisfying novel that avoids the middle book syndrome so many fantasy trilogies fall into.
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
An epic fantasy rooted in India’s mythologies and history, this smartly written and fiercely imagined novel tells the story of an imprisoned princess and a maidservant with forbidden magic. They become unlikely allies in the quest to save the empire from the princess’s traitorous brother.
Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
A deliciously creepy and disorienting tale, Khaw’s haunted house story set in Japan centers a group of old friends from Malaysia with a history of ghost hunting. They have rented a Heian-era mansion; legend has it that an abandoned bride was buried in the house’s walls and a girl has been sacrificed every year since then to keep her company.
Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
Body horror competes with the terrors of big pharma in this invigorating futuristic horror story about a lesbian named Yaya who discovers she has a vagina dentata. She assumes it is a side effect of an experimental medication her mother took when she was pregnant, but when a pharmaceutical company comes after her she realizes it might be a new experiment altogether.
Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn
Rocklyn’s gothic horror fantasy debut is deeply immersive and deeply weird, with lyrical writing that belies the foulness of the content. Iraxi is a survivor and refugee on an arc fleeing a flooded kingdom; she is also pregnant and might be about to give birth to a monster.
Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt
Rumfitt’s terrifying gothic haunted house tale succeeds in bringing to life the terrors of fascism while also illuminating British trans life. The story centers on three friends who are forced to return to a haunted house they spent a horrifying night in three years ago.
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Themes of monstrosity, anti-Black racism, memory, and the co-opting of activism dominate this exceptional story about Vern, a character who escapes to the forest from an oppressive cult. There she gives birth to twins, but continues to be haunted and hunted by her past as she undergoes a strange metamorphosis.
The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne De Bourgh by Molly Greeley
Taking a minor character from Pride and Prejudice, Greeley’s compassionate novel portrays Anne De Bourgh as a woman manipulated into taking laudanum and gaslit into believing she is ill and incapable. Her life changes when she flees the grips of her family’s control, establishes a new life in London, and discovers lesbian love!
Matrix by Lauren Groff
Set in medieval England, Matrix tells the enthralling story of Marie, who arrives as a new nun at an abbey with the mission of leading it back to prosperity. Themes of collective sisterhood, queer sexuality in a gender-segregated environment, religious visions, female power, and feminist leadership all feature in this unique and lively tale.
Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body by Megan Milks
This novel is a wildly weird masterpiece that would be at home in half of the categories on this list. It’s here in the historical fiction category because it is deeply 90s: a reimagining of tween girl series like the Babysitters Club, a brutally honest novel about a queer and trans coming of age and disordered eating, a choose your own adventure/video game style surreal journey through the body, and an intellectual adult reflection on all of this.
Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton
A contemporary directionless trans woman writes fan letters to the lead/songwriter of a fictional 60s band a la The Beach Boys. The musician’s life turns out to intersect with hers in unforeseen ways, including their shared trans identity. Thornton brilliantly employs the epistolary form to bring the reader into the world of the LA 60s pop music scene while insightfully establishing the contrasts and similarities between the two women’s lives.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Although this dreamlike Great Gatsby retelling includes a magical aspect, the focus is on the experience of being a queer adopted Vietnamese immigrant socialite in the American jazz age. Daisy’s friend and occasional narrator Jordan from the original novel is the focus here as Vo creates a fascinating character study of her and her precarious place in 1920s rich white American society.
Literary / Contemporary Fiction
The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine
With keen observation and lush characterization, Alameddine weaves a story about conflict and refugees centering an Arab American trans lesbian doctor named Mina. Mina goes to Lesbos to help at the Syrian refugee camp, but she finds herself suffocated by the helplessness she feels in the face of the crisis. The novel is both a celebration and a tragedy.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
Peering beneath the skin of an attempt to have a perfect queer family, Arnett’s latest novel looks at a number of messy entities: lesbian motherhood, a challenging kid, and a troubled marriage. The protagonist Sammie, her wife Monika, and their son Samson are rich and fully realized. The result is a candid, darkly funny, brash, and simultaneously warm and tense novel. Read the interview with Kristen Arnett on Autostraddle by Drew Gregory.
Milk Fed by Melissa Broder
Full of dark humor, food, and religion, Broder’s tale is about a deeply unhappy woman who has replaced Judaism with calorie counting. Then she meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at a frozen yogurt shop and wants to feed her. Kate Gorton reviews the book in full on Autostraddle.
Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie
Skye is a queer Black woman nearing forty who loves her no-strings-attached life. But it turns out she can’t do without relationships once she returns to her hometown of Philadelphia and meets a kid who tells Skye she is one of the eggs Skye donated in her twenties. With a keen sense of place and community, McKenzie creates a moving story of midlife transformation.
We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A.E. Osworth
An incisive response to GamerGate, Osworth’s debut novel makes use of a clever first person plural narrative point of view as it investigates internet trolling, sexism in video game culture, voyeurism, fandom, and “sixterhood.” The excellently paced action takes place in both real life — aka meatspace — and in a massive multiplayer online role playing game made by the studio that Eliza works for. On Autostraddle, check out this author interview as well as a full review by Kate Gorton.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
As Drew Gregory’s review on Autostraddle declares, Peters’ debut novel “is for trans women—the rest of you are lucky to read it.” The story is about three women — two trans and one cis — who are entangled in a kind of love triangle involving a breakup, a detransition, and an accidental pregnancy. It is as emotionally true as it is intellectually stunning.
A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett
Plett’s trademark skills at authentic characterization, evocative setting, and insight into the lives of trans women are on full display in this superb collection of short stories. The stories crackle with quiet complexity as they cover topics like a woman returning to her Mennonite roots while visiting a lover and another leaving the Portland’s queer utopia to transition in New York’s anonymity.
Blue Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu
SJ Sindu’s sophomore novel is epic in terms of scale, theme, and prose. Moving from Tamil Nadu to New York City and spanning a decade, this story explores faith; ethnic, gender, and sexual identity; and global interconnectivity through the life of Kalki. Kalki is a person born with blue skin and believed to be the reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu; but just as he is supposed to come into his power, he begins to question it.
Memoir / Biography
The Natural Mother of the Child by Krys Malcom Belc
The topics of conceiving, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding are explored from the perspective of a trans masculine nonbinary parent in this perceptive memoir in lyric essays. Using documents such as birth certificates and childhood photographs, Belc investigates how these experiences clarified his gender and opened up new ideas of parenthood and family.
Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile
Acclaimed lesbian musician Brandi Carlile tells the story of her life so far, including growing up in a financially poor but musically rich family, tension between her queer sexuality and Christian faith, 15 years of touring, six albums, and raising two kids with her wife. The memoir is poignant, engaging, and inspiring.
Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi
Subtitled “a Black Spirit Memoir,” this fierce, tender book is written in Emezi’s trademark eloquent and insightful prose. Through letters to Emezi’s friends, lovers, and family, they explore their creative journey to writerhood; their gender and body; mental health; hunger for success; spiritual, emotional, and romantic relationships; and more.
A History of Scars by Laura Lee
Lee delves into her legacy of trauma as the queer kid of Korean immigrant parents, as well as topics as diverse as mountain climbing, sexuality, cooking, writing, Alzheimers, and being a student. Her writing is vivid, raw, and intimate.
The One You Want to Marry by Sophie Santos
In her refreshingly honest voice, comedian Sophie Santos traces the winding path through many different identities: tomboy, emo theater kid, pageant queen, sorority sister, and, finally “calm” lesbian. In her review for Autostraddle, Analyssa calls the memoir “quite funny [as] Santos rips through stories that are awkward, painfully relatable or even deeply embarrassing.”
Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow
The delight and chaos of an amusement park make a fitting setting for this heartwarming story about a middle grader named Dalia who ends up on a trip with her soon-to-be stepsister Alexa, Alexa’s secret girlfriend, and Dalia’s new friend Rani. Keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize she might have the same one herself: she has a crush on Rani.
Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashley Herring Blake
Blake has an excellent track record with compassionate and complex queer middle grade books and her latest novel is no different. After one of Hazel’s moms dies in an accident, she is left with anxiety and a mama who hasn’t settled anywhere for more than a few months. An unexpectedly long stop in a small town known for a legendary mermaid changes everything.
The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan
This Irish novel-in-verse about 11-year-old bookish Stevie was published in North America this year and what a gift. It’s a quiet, thoughtful character study of a girl learning that she likes girls (through books and a helpful librarian!) and sharing her revelations with her mom.
A Touch of Ruckus by Ash Van Otterloo
This ghost hunting story set in the forest features a queer girl, Tennessee, and her nonbinary crush/friend, Fox. Secret keeping, rural queer experiences, mental health, and the pressure to stifle yourself to keep the peace are all explored with compassion and insight.
Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens
When eighth grader Artie discovers she comes from a long line of werewolves, she is thrilled to join a new community, where she finds a new friend and crush. But she also learns some scary news: vampires are the real threat in the woods! Stephens’ paranormal graphic novel is full of unique lore and world-building as well as warm themes of family, community, and human-animal relationships.
Mystery / Thriller
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
The first book in a new historical series called Harlem Renaissance Mysteries features a fascinating Black sapphic character with a traumatic past. In Louise Lloyd’s first case (reluctantly taken), she investigates the murders of several local Black women.
Journey to Cash by Ashley Bartlett
Cash’s past as a drug dealer and police informant comes back to haunt her just as she’s moving on in the last installment of Bartlett’s authentically queer millennial crime series. Diving as always into morally grey waters, this book hinges on Cash’s ex-girlfriend returning from her disappearance with news that Cash’s ex-business partner wants to kill them both.
The Final Child by Fran Dorricott
In this chilling psychological thriller, a woman who escaped a serial killer kidnapping as a kid is reminded that the past is not far behind her when a journalist wants to interview her about the experience. It’s a welcome addition of sapphic characters and lesbian romance subplot to a genre sorely lacking in both.
Warn Me When It’s Time by Cheryl A. Head
The sixth book in the Charlie Mack Motown Mystery series, this exciting novel with compelling Black lesbian representation follows private investigator Mack and her team as they attempt to track down a hate group. They are hired by the children of an imam who was killed in a recent arson at his mosque. As the Mack team investigates, they discover the group’s roots go much deeper than they thought.
Unbreakable by Cari Hunter
This engaging well-paced mystery follows two parallel storylines that eventually intersect with a bang. In one, a doctor is held at gunpoint and forced to treat the serious injuries of her abductor. In the other, detective sergeant Safia Faris is on a murder case that turns out to be much less straight forward than it seemed at first.
What Fresh Hell Is This? by Heather Corinna
This hilarious and informative guide to “perimenopause, menopause, and other indignities” is chock full of what you need to know, with an explicit emphasis on including those whose experiences are often left out of reproductive health discussions. There are also illustrations by Archie Bongiovanni! Kaelyn reviews the book on Autostraddle, calling it “fun and refreshing.”
We Are the Babysitters Club edited by Marisa Crawford and Megan Milks
The artistic and prose work in this anthology is as engaging formally as it is in content: graphic pieces and comics mix with essays on topics like fashion, disability, race, and friendship. The legacy of The Babysitters Club is critiqued as well as celebrated. Check out the Autostraddle roundtable on the book!
The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye
Bolding taking on the rise of trans misogyny specifically and transphobia generally in the U.K., British trans feminist Shon Faye focuses her work on how the actual material oppression that trans people face is being ignored. Her socialist feminist arguments are as convincing as they are refreshing.
Girlhood by Melissa Febos
This enthralling and revelatory blend of memoir, reporting, and critique examines the stifling narratives of girl- and womanhood that women grow up with. Febos also sets out to replace the harmful values with ones that prioritize women’s health, happiness, and freedom. Read a full review by Luna Adler on Autostraddle.
Crip Kinship by Shayda Kafai
Sins Invalid, a queer disability justice performance project, is the subject of this empowering and revolutionary book. The history of the organization’s art and activism is explored and expanded on as Kafai shares the wisdom and lessons disabled, queer, and trans people of color have for collective survival. She also looks at what disability justice is capable of.
On Freedom by Maggie Nelson
The concept of freedom, as Nelson notes, can be alternately enlivening and nihilistic as it continues to dominate the four areas she investigates: art, sex, drugs, and climate. Moving between analyzing pop culture and critical theory to discussing her own lived experience, Nelson asks many thought-provoking questions that defy easy answers.
Our Work Is Everywhere by Syan Rose
This genre-bending anthology about queer and trans resistance packs a big punch for a short book. It moves between interviews, essays, conversations, and more, all accompanied by Rose’s intricate, expansive illustrations. Containing both rage and celebration, the book explores topics such as Black femme mental health, sex worker activism, and queer fat performance art.
The Care We Dream of edited by Zena Sharman
This unique anthology collects essays by Sharman on topics such as queering health and kinship as well as fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and interviews with health care workers and researchers on the LGBTQ+ healthcare they dream of. As the subtitle declares, the feast of content is truly “liberatory and transformative.”
Villainy by Andrea Abi-Karam
Punk in content and form, Abi-Karam’s second poetry collection is a vision and a call to action for a thriving queer abolitionist future. Desire and rage, protest and sex, coexist as the poems embody how to be “an accomplice to radical action.”
The Good Arabs by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch
Investigating how we might love under the circumstances of social injustice, sorrow, and disaster, this collection of verse and prose poems is thoughtful and lyrical. El Bechelany-Lynch looks at bodies and identities — Arab, trans, queer — as well as places and times: humid Montreal summer’s, Lebanon during the 2015 garbage crisis, and the aftermath of the Beirut explosion.
The Renunciations by Donika Kelly
Kelly’s heartbreaking and affecting collection is concerned with trauma, survival, and resilience, particularly in response to childhood sexual abuse. The poems have incredible movement and innovative formal play, such as using parentheses to convey what cannot be expressed.
Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
Wildly weird and magical, Lozada-Oliva’s novel-in-verse is about a young Latinx poet, Melissa, who resurrects Tejano pop star Selena. The resurrection leads her on a journey through a spirit world populated by her own shadow self, karaoke, and a dead celebrity prom. Featuring themes of fandom, grief, queer identity, and loneliness.
Magnified by Minnie Bruce Pratt
Love, loss, grief, and communism in her life with Leslie Feinberg dominate this collection as Pratt lingers on the tiniest of details. As the title implies, these details of both nature and caretaking for an ill loved one are enhanced to breathtaking and heartbreaking effect. Check out this Autostraddle interview with Pratt about the book.
For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes
This sweet, feel-good BDSM debut romance by and about a trans woman is a very welcome addition to LGBTQ+ romance. April is a wonderfully crafted character: a nurturing type of mommi with a side of nerdiness, intelligence, and relatable insecurity. Her love interest, Dennis, is equally nerdy, as well as matching her mommi with cute dad vibes.
Night Tide by Anna Burke
An affecting enemies-to-lovers story that tackles privilege and chronic illness, Night Tide features two women who went to veterinary school together. They’ve tended to push each other’s buttons, sometimes bringing out the worst in each other. When circumstances find them working at the same vet clinic together, the result is an emotionally vivid and intimate love story.
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
This Anastasia retelling is a delightful fairy tale story of queer Black love between a long lost princess and the private investigator tasked with tracking her down. With steamy sex scenes, delicious slow burn chemistry, and exciting travel adventures (featuring fun tropes like there’s only one bed!), How to Find a Princess is a big winner.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
McQuiston’s swoony rom com is full of optimism, humor, queer found family, dirty NYC sensory details, and lusty queer love. Also: a clever time travel twist that presents, shall we say, unique obstacles for the couple’s happily ever after. Read Heather’s glowing review for Autostraddle.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
A delicious mix of romance and late 20s coming of age tale, Rogers’ debut follows Grace, an over-achieving grad student who gets impulsively married in Vegas to a woman she just met. The result of this uncharacteristic move is a tender, authentically messy story about the benefits of letting go of a strictly controlled life.
A Natural History of Transition by Callum Angus
In this extraordinary collection of short stories, Angus takes the often trod thematic path of trans characters and transition and presents them in a completely new, surprising, and thought-provoking way. The stories blend keen observations on future life with fabulist, magical elements as well as details of the natural world.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Aoki’s joyful science fiction fantasy features donuts, queer alien love, curses, and bargains for the soul. Infused with musicality, the novel tells the story of trans runaway Katrina, an extraordinary violin player, and Shizuka, who needs to make a violin prodigy like Katrina sell her soul.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
The first book in Chambers’ new Monk and Robot series displays her trademark optimism, warmth, unique world-building and rich characterization. An agender traveling tea monk meets a robot, who asks an age old question: “What do people need?”
Future Feeling by Joss Lake
Future advanced technology and witchcraft come together in this wickedly funny, inventive, and eloquent satire about two trans guys, their mutual resentment, and the other trans guy who gets stuck in the crossfire. Themes include trans kinship, magic, social media, human connection, and jealousy.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
The sequel to 2019’s A Memory Called Empire, this show-stopping space opera absolutely lives up to the intricate world-building, bubbling action, and intimate characterization its predecessor exemplified. In this installment, Mahit and Three Seagrass face off against an unknown alien enemy, a last resort diplomatic envoy. Read this excerpt on Autostraddle!
Young Adult Contemporary / Historical
Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann
This sex-positive novel in diary format is a true romantic comedy: biting, sharp humor and a swoony slow burn queer romance. At first 15-year-old Phoebe is convinced falling in love is for the birds. But while volunteering at a thrift store, Phoebe meets Emma, who might just disprove all her theories.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Two very different Bengali queer teen girls, popular Hani and academic overachiever Ishu, fall in love in this delightful take on the fake dating trope. Hani’s friends don’t believe she’s bisexual if she’s only dated guys and Ishu needs a boost in popularity to meet her goal of becoming head girl — the situation is perfect for a fauxmance. Too bad they’re catching feelings!
Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
There is a remarkable depth and fierce honesty to Johnson’s characters in this summertime tale of queer Black love set at a music festival. Olivia and Toni’s stories investigate loss, grief, isolation, and the healing power of music. Read Carmen’s interview with Johnson, where she declares “Leah Johnson is the Toni Morrison of queer YA.” You can also read an excerpt of Rise to the Sun right here on Autostraddle!
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Lo’s colorful, captivating historical YA is set in 1950s San Francisco Chinatown. Two teen girls, Lily and Kathleen, risk everything for their love, at the same time as the so-called Red Scare threatens Chinese Americans like Lily and her family. Now a National Book Award winner!
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
This novel is both a page-turning thriller and a deeply moving account of going through and healing from trauma. Nora is the daughter of a con artist who, along with her new girlfriend and ex/BFF, is held hostage at a bank during a robbery. In order to survive, Nora might have to brush off her old skills.
Young Adult Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Ace of Spades is YA’s answer to the new popularity of dark academia, with queer (bisexual girl and gay boy) Black characters to boot! Àbíké-Íyímídé deftly examines the interweaving of class, queerness, and Black identity in this heart-racing horror mystery thriller where two Black students at a predominantly white private school are targeted by an anonymous texter revealing their secrets to the world.
To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames
A chilling queer feminist horror thriller, To Break a Covenant is set in a wonderfully realized creepy town called Moon Basin, which is known for being haunted after a mine explosion killed 16 people. Residents of the town are experiencing spooky, peculiar phenomena like night terrors and hearing strange voices. Four teen girls decide to take matters into their own hands, descending into the mine to learn the truth.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Bayron’s sophomore novel is a contemporary fantasy deeply influenced by Greek mythology, a fascination with plants, and a dedication to complex queer Black representation. Briseis is a young woman with a strange and dangerous power that allows her to make any plant blossom instantly with her touch. When she and her moms leave Brooklyn to spend the summer at a dilapidated rural estate, she discovers the true depth of her power.
The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta
Syd is an agender teen baker who gets into a big ol’ mess after baking a batch of magical brownies after being dumped. It turns out everyone who eats them breaks up, including the owners of the queer bakery where Syd works. Can Syd fix it before it’s too late? This cozy magical realist story is a delightful love letter to queer love and community.
A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
Themes of magic, family, asexuality, and traditional storytelling dominate in Lipan Apache author Darcie Little Badger’s delightful and uplifting second YA novel. A Lipan girl named Nina collides with Oli who is from the land of spirits and monsters. But some people will do anything to keep them apart. This is a wholesome, elegantly written read guaranteed to warm your heart!
Let’s talk books in the comments! What were the best queer books of 2021 according to you? Have you read any of the ones featured on this list? Did I leave off any of your favourites? Any queer reads coming out in 2022 you’re looking forward to? Please share!