Diverse Fantasy Books – YA Edition

It’s been a while since I did a recommendation list, so here are some YA fantasy books featuring a diverse cast of characters that I really enjoyed (BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters, mainly). Most of these books are ones that released in 2020, although a few are older. I haven’t read a lot of SFF books featuring neurodivergent or disabled characters, so if anyone has recommendations (YA or Adult) please let me know!

Star Daughter – Shveta Thakrar

In case you somehow missed my screaming about this book last summer, here’s all the reasons I enjoyed it ๐Ÿ˜€ The cover particularly makes my heart sing, it’s so nice to see a face like mine front and center!

Raybearer – Jordan Ifueko

I kept hearing people recommend this book as the best fantasy book they’d read last year, and I finally got to read it in December. I thought the world building was INCREDIBLE, and I loved how flawed but wonderful the main characters were. The book tackles a lot of interesting family dynamics and complicated loyalties, which I was a big fan of.

Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas

Somehow my tweet about how happy this book made me became one of my most-liked tweets ever, which just goes to show how many people have a special place in their heart for this book! Featuring a magical trans boy, his badass best friend, and a ghost boy on a mission, this book was an absolute delight.

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong

Hats of to NYT Bestselling author Chloe Gong for the clever marketing campaign because seeing all the White Flowers and Scarlet Gang posts made me very excited to read this book. It was a lot more icky than I was expecting, so beware if your stomach turns easily, but it was full of plot twists and compelling characters. I also didn’t know much about 1920s Shanghai so it was cool to read a book set in that time and place! The 20s were a crazy time ๐Ÿ™‚

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi

Again, if you haven’t heard all the reasons this book is awesome, check out my rant about why people need to stop calling it a Six of Crows rip-off. The series is a lot of fun and features a found family of heist artists. I love how much they all care for each other, even if some relationships get complicated. I also love how the book includes a wide range of experiences: POC/biracial characters, messy queer characters, and a neurodivergent genius.

We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal

Yes, my original review of this series was pretty mixed, but the world and characters have stuck with me for a long time and the ending sucked me in enough to want to read book 2! Although I found the main characters kind of angsty, I ADORE the secondary characters and am excited to read about their journey. Here’s my Zumra book tag if you want more inspiration to check this book out.

Spin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim

This was a really cool fantasy book inspired by Chinese legends and folktales. I am a sucker for stories with competitions and impossible tasks, and this one was all about a glorious magical competition to become the emperor’s tailor. I loved how headstrong and determined the main character was, and I also loved the lush descriptions of the fabric and the world.

The Bone Witch – Rin Chupeco

I read this series a while ago, but I really enjoyed it! Tea is quite a sympathetic antiheroine, and I loved her loyalty to her family and determination to do what she felt was right (no matter how misguided). The world-building was intricate, the plot kept me at the edge of my seat, and the big reveals at the end of each book were marvelous. I will read anything by Rin Chupeco at this point, I’m looking forward to their adult fantasy books!

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