This week’s prompt is secondary or minor characters that deserve their own book, and I was surprised by how hard these ten jumped out at me!
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual Chinese MC, bisexual MC
In this xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy, a Chinese immortal and a French elf navigate romance, family loyalty, and workplace demands. In her debut novel, Mia Tsai has created a paranormal adventure that is full of humor, passion, and depth.
As a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine, ignored middle child Elle was destined to be a doctor. Instead, she is underemployed as a mediocre magical calligrapher at the fairy temp agency, paranoid that her murderous younger brother will find her and their elder brother.
Using her full abilities will expose Elle’s location. Nevertheless, she challenges herself by covertly outfitting Luc, her client and crush, with high-powered glyphs.
Half-elf Luc, the agency’s top security expert, has his own secret: he’s responsible for a curse laid on two children from an old assignment. To heal them, he’ll need to perform his job duties with unrelenting excellence and earn time off from his tyrannical boss.
When Elle saves Luc’s life on a mission, he brings her a gift and a request for stronger magic to ensure success on the next job—except the next job is hunting down Elle’s younger brother.
As Luc and Elle collaborate, their chemistry blooms. Happiness, for once, is an option for them both. But Elle is loyal to her family, and Luc is bound by his true name. To win freedom from duty, they must make unexpected sacrifices.
A MADDENINGLY minor character in Bitter Medicine is Lira, who co-runs a shop supplying magical glyphs with Elle, one of the two protagonists. It takes a while for the book to reveal what Lira’s magical nature is – we know she must have one, but whether she’s a faerie or the descendant of a god or what is unclear…until it’s mentioned practically in passing that she is ‘the daughter of the Black Doctor of the Pines … a ghost-spirit hybrid’.
A GHOST-SPIRIT HYBRID? WHAT?
The same passage mentions that she has ‘a close relationship with Norse gods and Lenni Lenape spirits’, and HI, I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS??? PLEASE AND THANK YOU??? I want her origin story so bad. How did she form those close relationships? What does that MEAN?? WHAT ON EARTH OR OFF IT IS A GHOST-SPIRIT HYBRID???
(Also, Wikipedia tells me that the Black Doctor of the Pines was a real person? How does that fit into the lore of this book’s world??? GAH!)
Genres: Fantasy, Portal Fantasy
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.
I would LOVE to get a whole novel about the Green Wind – or really, any of the Winds, and their wonderful animal companions (usually big cats, but the Blue Wind rides around on a giant puffin)! In Fairyland, the Winds are people, and they clearly play a big part in deciding which children to steal away to Fairyland – and which to send to our world as Changelings, for that matter. They always seem to be privy to many wonderful secrets and having fabulous adventures, and I’d love to know more about their lives off-page!
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy
Representation: Secondary F/F, queernorm world
"I didn't know you were a... demon."
"You idiot. I'm the demon."
Kai's having a long day in Martha Wells' Witch King...
After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.
But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?
Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.
He’s not going to like the answers.
Tahren Stargard is a renegade/black sheep Immortal Marshall in Witch King – and although a big chunk of the book is devoted to finding her once she’s missing, that does mean we barely get to see her, and we really don’t get any of her backstory. How did she become Fallen? What led to that happening – or to her making that choice, since it’s implied it was her own decision? What is it like for her to be Fallen; how does that affect her self-image, and her relationship with her people, and how she interacts with the world? I would be very happy to get a book (or even a novella) all about her!
Genres: Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black asexual aromantic MC, sapphic MC, secondary trans character, major character with vitiligo, polyamory
When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.
There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.
Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.
Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?
Gwen is one of the POV characters of the Manifold Worlds duology, but a relatively minor one – and by the time the first book opens, she’s already had a ton of adventures; moved from our world to Kena, played a fundamental role in a revolution/coup, and married two people (polyamory for the win!) and had a son with them. I love the Manifold Worlds books dearly, but I would adore a prequel book or series following Gwen’s earlier escapades!
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bi/pansexual trans MC
Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman's story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane's Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles' vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.
The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.
Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the "prince" Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman's body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.
But the gods--a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries--have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.
An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight...and chooses to trust.
KIYA KIYA KIYA KIYA KIYAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
That is all.
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC
A rollicking feminist tale set in 1950s America where thousands of women have spontaneously transformed into dragons, exploding notions of a woman’s place in the world and expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are.
The first adult novel by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours, except for its most seminal event: the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales, and talons; left a trail of fiery destruction in their path; and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of.
Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this astonishing event: a mother more protective than ever; an absentee father; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and watching her beloved cousin Bea become dangerously obsessed with the forbidden.
In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the tyranny of forced limitations. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.
Right at the end of When Women Were Dragons, we get a very quick overview of a specific character’s life. I’m not going to name her, because that would be a spoiler, but if you’ve read the book, you know who I mean. I would LOVE to have a whole book about her life, rather than seeing it summarised like that. SHE DESERVED THAT NOBEL PRIZE!
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Black asexual MC
WINNER OF THE 2019 READERVIEWS AWARD FOR FANTASY!WINNER OF THE 2019 IPPY AWARD FOR FANTASY!
“Life is transformation. You change or you die.”
Ashamed of his past and overwhelmed by his future, Ronoah Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani feels too small for his own name. After a graceless exit from his homeland in the Acharrioni desert, his anxiety has sabotaged every attempt at redemption. Asides from a fiery devotion to his godling, the one piece of home he brought with him, he has nothing.
That is, until he meets Reilin. Beguiling, bewildering Reilin, who whisks Ronoah up into a cross-continental pilgrimage to the most sacred place on the planet. The people they encounter on the way—children of the sea, a priestess and her band of storytellers, the lonely ghosts of monsters—are grim and whimsical in equal measure. Each has their part to play in rewriting Ronoah’s personal narrative.
One part fantasy travelogue, one part emotional underworld journey, The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming is a sumptuous, slow-burning story about stories and the way they shape our lives.
For the story Tristen was telling in this duology, I think keeping so much about Reilin secret and mysterious was the right call – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t adore a book (or preferably a series!) about Reilin’s origins and adventures! It’s hard to say more without spoilers, but seriously, MORE REILIN PLEASE AND THANK YOU!
(Also, including him on this list is totally cheating, because no one with any sense would call Reilin a minor character, BUT HE DESERVES A BOOK OF HIS OWN I WILL NOT BE ENTERTAINING DISSENT ON THIS!)
Genres: Horror, Historical Fantasy
At the turn of the twentieth century, a former spy is called into service to hunt down a vampire killer...
Once a spy for Queen Victoria, James Asher has fought for Britain on every continent, using his quick wits to protect the Empire at all costs. After years of grueling service, he marries and retires to a simple academic’s life at Oxford. But his peace is shattered one night with the arrival of a Spanish vampire named Don Simon. Don Simon can disappear into fog, move faster than the eye can see, and immobilize Asher—and his young bride—with a wave of his hand. Asher is at his mercy, and has no choice but to give his help.
Because someone is killing the vampires of London, and James Asher must find out who—before he becomes a victim himself.
The James Asher books have some of the best vampires I’ve ever seen, and Ysidro, the main vampire that James and Lydia (the two human protagonists) interact with over the course of the series, would be fascinating even if he WASN’T a vampire. It’s probably cheating again to include him, because he’s more a major secondary character than a minor character – but whatever, I would love a book all about him from his own perspective!
(Especially since I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE ENDED THE SERIES THAT ABRUPTLY. NO I AM NOT OKAY.)
Genres: Fantasy, Secondary World Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC
Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save himself... and his newfound kin.
A relatively minor character in Wells’ Raskura books is Chime, who started life off as one kind of Raksura, and woke up one day as another. (This involved GETTING WINGS, which, while amazing, you can see how it would also be disconcerting.) Chime is clever and adorable, and I would love to get inside his head; particularly before the events of the series, when his strange transformation happened. What was that like? We only ever see his feelings about it through Moon; it would be so great to hear it in his own words! To say nothing of, as someone raised Raksura (as poor Moon was not) I’d love his insider’s-insight into the court and all the moving pieces in it.
When the witch built the forty-flight tower, she made very sure to do the whole thing properly. Each flight contains a dreadful monster, ranging from a diamond-scaled dragon to a pack of slavering goblins. Should a prince battle his way to the top, he will be rewarded with a golden sword—and the lovely Princess Floralinda.
But no prince has managed to conquer the first flight yet, let alone get to the fortieth.
In fact, the supply of fresh princes seems to have quite dried up.
And winter is closing in on Floralinda…
As much as I came to appreciate Floralinda over the course of the novella – let’s be real; Cobweb was the real star of the show! Hopefully there will be more Cobweb in the sequel (I heard we were getting a sequel?) but I would be even happier with a spin-off putting Cobweb front-and-centre!
Have you read any of these? Which minor characters would YOU love to see in the spotlight?