3 Years Blogging = Pride Flag SFF Book Recs!

Posted 1st June 2022 by Sia in Crescent Classics, Lists, Memes & Tags, Queer Lit, Recommendations / 5 Comments

It’s my blogiversary – Every Book a Doorway is officially THREE WHOLE YEARS OLD!!! – and since I started EBaD to talk about queer SFF, what better way to celebrate than with a bunch of queer SFF book recs?

Rainbow Reads came up with the Pride Flag Book Recs – which is exactly what it sounds like; recommending a book for every stripe in the (original) Gilbert Baker pride flag and what those colours represented, plus the new brown+black stripes for QPOC.

I actually went a little bit further, and added the stripes from the Daniel Quasar flag shown below – so, not just brown+black, but the trans colours as well!

So now, the books!!!

Pink – Sexuality

Exodus 20:3 by Freydís Moon
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans Latino MC, M/M

Religious eroticism and queer emancipation meet in a claustrophobic monster-romance about divinity, sexuality, and freedom.

When Diego López is guilted by his mother into taking a low-key construction job in New Mexico, he doesn’t expect to be the only helping hand at Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. But the church is abandoned, decrepit, and off the beaten path, and the only other person for miles is its handsome caretaker, Ariel Azevedo.

Together, Diego and Ariel refurbish the old church, sharing stories of their heritage, experiences, and desires. But as the long days turn into longer nights, Diego begins to see past Ariel’s human mirage and finds himself falling into lust—and maybe something else—with one of God’s first creations.

Exodus 20:3 is the intense, and intensely beautiful, story of a trans Latino sex worker who is not exactly looking for redemption when he signs up to build a church, but manages to find the divine anyway. It’s powerful, charged, and yes, big on the erotic – definitely fills the bingo square for sexuality! – but I can’t overstate how gorgeous and clever it is. If you’re used to writing off paranormal romance or erotica, this is absolutely the book that will change your mind about that.

Red – Life

Saint Death's Daughter (Saint Death #1) by C.S.E. Cooney
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC, nonbinary love interest

Life gets complicated when Death gets involved.

To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be… rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life.

To make matters worse, family debt looms – a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans…

Despite featuring a necromancer, this is very much a book about LIFE and LIVING – which may in fact be the point, because surely only someone who really and truly loves life can bring someone back from the dead?

Saint Death’s Daughter is a phantasmagorical delight, whimsical and cheeky and wicked and brilliant, and I could not be more in love with it. It is perfect in every way.

My review!

Orange – Healing

Ansible: A Thousand Faces (The Complete Omnibus of Seasons 1-3) by Stant Litore
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Middle Eastern cast, bisexual Muslim MC, Syrian bisexual MC, Black African MC, F/F, queernorm cultures

This omnibus edition includes the entire Ansible series: Seasons 1-3.

"My mind has touched the stars, wearing a thousand faces..."

In Ansible, 25th century Islamic explorers transfer their minds across space and time to make first contact...and get marooned in alien bodies on alien worlds. Along the way, they encounter the most dangerous predator humanity has ever faced. And that species knows where earth is. Now a hijabi shapeshifter and her band of time travelers are all that stand between humanity and the last dark.

Ansible is a book that leaves you feeling healed deep down inside. It’s initially quite dark – Earth is attacked and overrun by horrific alien monsters – but after the first 15% or so, it becomes an incredibly hopepunk book, featuring an absolutely incredible cast fighting back and safeguarding humanity, always seeking peace, never giving up on love, holding on to their sense of awe and wonder at what people can accomplish and be. It’s both cinematic and deeply poignant, and a book I treasure.

My review!

Yellow – Sunlight

Winterglass (Her Pitiless Command, #1) by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Sapphic MC, trans MC, F/F, queernorm world, secondary nonbinary characters

The city-state Sirapirat once knew only warmth and monsoon. When the Winter Queen conquered it, she remade the land in her image, turning Sirapirat into a country of snow and unending frost. But an empire is not her only goal. In secret, she seeks the fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire.

At her right hand is General Lussadh, who bears a mirror shard in her heart, as loyal to winter as she is plagued by her past as a traitor to her country. Tasked with locating other glass-bearers, she finds one in Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon that will strike down the queen.

To earn her place in the queen’s army, Nuawa must enter a deadly tournament where the losers’ souls are given in service to winter. To free Sirapirat, she is prepared to make sacrifices: those she loves, herself, and the complicated bond slowly forming between her and Lussadh.

If the splinter of glass in Nuawa’s heart doesn’t destroy her first.

This is probably cheating, because there isn’t a whole lot of sunlight in the Her Pitiless Command trilogy – the known world’s been taken over by a demi-goddess of ice and snow – but the main character is out to bring the sunlight back by killing the queen. That counts, right?

Sriduankgaew’s prose is a decadent feast and I am madly in love with her worldbuilding and imagination – swords that cut shadow, snake-locks, golden mirror-cities… I love it all!

Green – Nature

The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms, #1) by Tasha Suri
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Desi-coded setting and cast, sapphic MCs, F/F

Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri's The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess's traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Literally a sapphic epic fantasy about wielders of nature-magic! Perfect for this prompt! (Stripe?)

And, you know. It’s a Desi-inspired cast and setting, with complex characters all over the place, so many different kinds of strong women, a multi-faceted dissection of colonialism and fanaticism… All the good things, basically.

My review!

Turquoise – Magic

Water Horse by Melissa Scott
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC, M/M, M/F/M polyamory, queernorm cultures

For the last twenty years, Esclin Aubrinos, arros of the Hundred Hills, has acted jointly with Alcis Mirielos, the kyra of the Westwood, and the rivermaster of Riverholme to defend their land of Allanoth against the Riders who invade from Manan across the Narrow Sea. He has long been a master of the shifting politics of his own people and his independently-minded allies, but this year the omens turn against him. The Riders have elected a new lord paramount, hallowed servant of the Blazing One, a man chosen and fated for victory.

The omens agree that Nen Elin, Esclin’s stronghold and the heart of Allanoth, will fall when a priest of the Blazing One enters its gates. Esclin needs a spirit-bonded royal sword, a talismanic weapon made of star-fallen iron, to unite the hillfolk behind him. But the same vision that called for the sword proclaimed that Esclin will then betray it, and every step he takes to twist free of the prophecies brings him closer to that doom.

Water Horse is a standalone High Fantasy (how often do we get those?!) that feels a little reminiscent of Ancient Ireland while being wholly itself – and frankly, I think it’s a masterpiece. Magic is embedded in every page; the magic of harps, of stone, of metal, of fire, of wood and of water. And the magic of Scott’s prose, which is exquisite and quietly powerful, making this my favourite of her works and one of my favourite books of all-time, period.

Blue – Harmony

Mazes of Power (The Broken Trust, #1) by Juliette Wade
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi

This debut work of sociological science fiction follows a deadly battle for succession, where brother is pitted against brother in a singular chance to win power and influence for their family.

The cavern city of Pelismara has stood for a thousand years. The Great Families of the nobility cling to the myths of their golden age while the city's technology wanes.
When a fever strikes, and the Eminence dies, seventeen-year-old Tagaret is pushed to represent his Family in the competition for Heir to the Throne. To win would give him the power to rescue his mother from his abusive father, and marry the girl he loves.

But the struggle for power distorts everything in this highly stratified society, and the fever is still loose among the inbred, susceptible nobles. Tagaret's sociopathic younger brother, Nekantor, is obsessed with their family's success. Nekantor is willing to exploit Tagaret, his mother, and her new servant Aloran to defeat their opponents.

Can he be stopped? Should he be stopped? And will they recognize themselves after the struggle has changed them?

It’s not that this is a sweet, serene series – not at all! – but I cannot get over how harmonious the worldbuilding is, how well everything’s been thought out and thought through, how perfectly it all fits together. Few things delight me as much as exquisitely crafted worldbuilding, and I couldn’t not include the Broken Trust! It’s socio-political sci-fi that reads like High Fantasy, with queer characters featured throughout (the first book focuses on a homophobic caste, but don’t be fooled; all the other castes in the Broken Trust’s world are queernorm). I love it SO MUCH!

My review for Mazes of Power
My review for Transgressions of Power
My review for Inheritors of Power

Purple – Spirit

Night Shine by Tessa Gratton
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: F/F, major genderfluid character, minor nonbinary character

An orphan girl must face untold danger and an ancient evil to save her kingdom’s prince in this “dark, sensuous…queer and lush” (Kirkus Reviews) fantasy perfect for fans of Girls of Paper and Fire and Tess of the Road.

How can you live without your heart?

In the vast palace of the empress lives an orphan girl called Nothing. She slips within the shadows of the Court, unseen except by the Great Demon of the palace and her true friend, Prince Kirin, heir to the throne. When Kirin is kidnapped, only Nothing and the prince’s bodyguard suspect that Kirin may have been taken by the Sorceress Who Eats Girls, a powerful woman who has plagued the land for decades. The sorceress has never bothered with boys before, but Nothing has uncovered many secrets in her sixteen years in the palace, including a few about the prince.

As the empress’s army searches fruitlessly, Nothing and the bodyguard set out on a rescue mission, through demon-filled rain forests and past crossroads guarded by spirits. Their journey takes them to the gates of the Fifth Mountain, where the sorceress wields her power. There, Nothing discovers that all magic is a bargain, and she may be more powerful than she ever imagined. But the price the Sorceress demands for Kirin may very well cost Nothing her heart.

This is me cheating again, because Night Shine is very much about spirits rather than spirit – the world Gratton’s created is full of spirits, elementals whose kingdom can be as small as single flower or as large as a mountain. It’s a gorgeous setting and a marvellous cast, particularly the MC Nothing, who uses her name to slip through all kinds of magical loopholes (nothing can pass this ward??? Well, guess she can walk right through then, can’t she?) This is another book that’s extremely dear to me, and if you read it, you’ll see why!

My review!

Trans – A Trans Lead and Author

Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans MC, nonbinary love interest

A whirlwind romance between an eccentric archivist and a grieving widow explores what it means to be at home in your own body in this clever, humorous, and heartfelt novel.

When archivist Sol meets Elsie, the larger than life widow of a moderately famous television writer who's come to donate her wife's papers, there's an instant spark. But Sol has a secret: he suffers from an illness called vampirism, and hides from the sun by living in his basement office. On their way to falling in love, the two traverse grief, delve into the Internet fandom they once unknowingly shared, and navigate the realities of transphobia and the stigmas of carrying the "vampire disease."

Then, when strange things start happening at the collection, Sol must embrace even more of the unknown to save himself and his job.

DEAD COLLECTIONS is a wry novel full of heart and empathy, that celebrates the journey, the difficulties and joys, in finding love and comfort within our own bodies.

This is a slow, thoughtful, introspective book – definitely not recommended for anyone looking for fast-paced action! But for a new (yes, really!) take on vampires, many complicated flavours of queerness, and bonding over fanfic? *chef’s kiss*

QPoC – A BIPOC MC and Author

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Brown MCs, sapphic MC, asexual MC, achillean MC, queernorm world

A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

"This is when your life begins."

Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A boy, broken by his past.

The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.

For both of them, a family.

But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

The Vanished Birds is like nothing else I’ve ever read, far-future sci-fi with ties to Earth’s distant past. It’s the embodiment of the found-family trope, mixing high stakes with quiet, languid, powerful emotion – this book had my heart in my throat so many times, and I flat-out broke down sobbing more than once. But not because it’s a tragedy – it isn’t – it’s just that it makes you feel so damn much, and it’s so beautiful, somehow incredibly tender and scalpel-sharp at the same time. I can’t recommend it enough.

There you have it – a book for every stripe. Happy blogiversary to me, and happy Pride to everyone else!!!

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5 responses to “3 Years Blogging = Pride Flag SFF Book Recs!

  1. Happy blogiversary! (Sorry to be late in wishing you this).
    Happy Pride!
    And what a book list – I’m very interested in reading the Tessa Gratton book in particular.

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