Fantasy is my favorite type of book to read but for far too long the genre has been dominated by white authors. No tea, no shade but this lack of diversity was tired even before June when the whole world was galvanized (at least temporarily) by the call of Black Lives Matter. But in the wake of the most recent iteration of the movement, it’s still painfully obvious that BIPOC authors, and Black authors, in particular, are still battling to get their names out there.
That’s why I put together this list of 10 fantasy books by BIPOC authors I’m excited to read. This list is populated with both traditionally published and indie works because the indie girls need love too. You may be wondering, did I include my own book on this list given that it’s fantasy? Yes, the hell I did! Check out these fifteen books below.
From Goodreads: “Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community.”
I’m so excited about this as I’m a sucker for the use of magic as a way to tackle complex social issues (obviously). I haven’t read anything by Morrow before but this premise is so dope that I’ve decided to move this up in my queue.
From Goodreads: “Captured by Supreme Leader Tiberius, the residents of the Ophiuchus struggle to survive in this tale that takes place during the events of Atlantic Island! Having narrowly survived his trip to the surface, Brayton searches the island for his missing friends. Meanwhile, Tiberius seeks to uncover the truth about the new arrivals, revealing a shocking link between the Ophiuchus prisoners and the island’s dark leadership.”
I love a good Atlantis fantasy and that’s why I added Genesis to this list. This book has mystery, fantasy, and more. It clocks in at 150 pages, making it a short read but one I look forward to checking out.
From Goodreads: “It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again. This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.”
A fairy tale, a queer romance, and a mystery? I was hooked when I saw this premise and I think you will be too. I love rehashing and subverting stories especially if the retelling includes some Black girl magic.
From Goodreads: “Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.”
We love a dystopian fantasy. I heard about Solomon’s work before and downloaded this on Audible. I can’t wait to get immersed in this story.
From Goodreads: “In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement. But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches.”
It’s the witches for me, especially this year. This is a period piece so it gets extra points with me. I love the concept of a woman coming into her witchiness, so you know this is high in my TBR list.
From, well, me: “America, 2022 – drugs are legal, witches are real, & a literal vampire is President. In this world of blood bars & anti-magic policy, Mercury just wants to live. After making a powerful enemy, a Black witch named Mercury and his friends must travel to Astera, an annual gathering of all witchkind. They battle vampiric cops, evil witches, aggressive humans, and each other along the way as they struggle to make it in one piece.”
I wrote this book for all the young Black and queer blerds who love fantasy and pop culture and hip hop. It’s also for people who like political satire and who enjoy a good cross country friendship road trip.
From Goodreads: “Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval. There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit. She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.”
All I can say is – sign me the hell up! This book has been on my radar for a while and I gifted it to myself for my birthday. You know your girl loves a good supernatural moment especially when there are Black characters involved.
From Goodreads: “For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom. When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?”
World-building? Check. Star-crossed lovers? Check. Ulterior motives? Check. Need I say more? This book has everything and the cover is giving me life.
From Goodreads: “Eight hundred years ago there was harmony in the world and no such thing as light and dark witches. The people were one. Enticed by the seductive powers of dark, some strayed down the twisted path, breaking the balance causing a rift. Eventually starting the Unholy Witch Wars. Now, war is brewing again and Nthanda, a child of the dark, unknowingly, is at the center of it all.”
Have you seen the cover? It’s gorgeous! This book has been on my radar for a while and I can’t wait to get drawn into the world that Howard created.
From Amazon: “100 kills or 100 years. That’s the contract. That’s the deal. But this kill is personal. 32 years ago a rogue vampire murdered my best friend in front of my eyes. I’ve spent the last three decades wracked with guilt over my friend’s death. Why was I spared and she not? But I wouldn’t wish this life of the undead on anyone. Black vamps are natural daywalkers. For that reason, our numbers are controlled and we are contracted out as assassins or servants. And it still doesn’t guarantee our freedom. A Master Vampire has been murdered and one of his progeny is suspected. My mission, to find the killer and eliminate them. The prime suspect, the vampire I thought was put down all those years ago.”
This is giving me Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes and I am here for it. I got a chance to read the first few chapters and it’s already shaping up to be a fun ride. How could you go wrong with a vampire slaying bounty hunter who wants to avenge their loved one?
Which of these books are you buying today? Let me know in the comments.