Book List

Must-Read Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with LGBTQIA+ Characters

April 18, 2023
Jess Harold
Riveted Editorial Board

I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. For most of my life, I avoided sci-fi like the plague; I’m a fantasy girl, through and through. But it turns out the imagination it takes to tell stories about alien races or artificial intelligence is just as vast and exciting as those that focus on dragons and wizards.

I owe this newfound love of science fiction to Shaun David Hutchinson’s At the Edge of the Universe. While much of it is based in our contemporary world, the mystery and fear surrounding a shrinking universe that only one person can remember had me awake until the wee hours of the morning trying to find out what happened to the protagonist’s boyfriend! While I think this book is a one-of-a-kind, I know there are other authors with amazing stories featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. So if you’re eager for more LGBTQIA+ characters in sci-fi and fantasy, here are a few to try.

23 Must-Read Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with LGBTQIA+ Characters

Slayer by Kiersten White

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic…Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

At The Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

One of the best parts about At the Edge of the Universe was the inclusive cast of characters. I was excited to read a book that not only explored the multiverse theory alongside shifting family dynamics, but also followed LGBTQ+ characters without resorting to harmful stereotypes or centering the story solely on their queerness—instead, Hutchinson treats all his characters with respect and care, giving the reader a chance to relate to their story, regardless of their background.

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

I loved the powerful opening, the exploration of this fantasy world, and especially the way Elli comes to terms with her forbidden feelings for her handmaiden, Mim. The sequel, The Cursed Queen, also features a bisexual protagonist, but I haven’t read it yet, so no spoilers!

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

The US president’s son has enough to worry about before Charlotte, an artificial humanoid, escapes her creators’ lab and wrecks havoc on the public via the Internet. I’ve heard this book described as “gothic, gadget-y, and gay,” so it’s quickly shot to the top of my to-read List.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Henry has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: the world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button. Only he isn’t sure he wants to. Can you imagine having that much power…and that much responsibility? You could take revenge on those who hurt you, but also hurt those you love. This fascinating, otherworldly but still so very grounded speculative novel from Shaun David Hutchinson is an absolute must-read.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies. Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. The Last Magician is filled with complex and intricate characters, including some LGBTQ+ ones!

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary is introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of our world and back to their own. A fan favorite in this series, Magnus Bane is a bisexual warlock who has lived for hundreds of years.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

It’s been five years since the war that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma and her battle partner Julian navigate the ever-changing world as Julian’s brother Mark, who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. Mark’s faerie ex-boyfriend also shows up, but he also is developing feelings for a visiting Shadowhunter, Christina.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold. If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she will uncover.

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

This book is full of dark humor! When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Throughout the book you’ll also be wondering, what’s harder to keep a secret: your magical powers or being in love with your best friend?

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

In order to find the answers to her mother’s death, Bree joins a secret society made up of the descendants of King Arthur’s knights known as Legendborn. With a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. Not only is this book filled with Southern Black Girl Magic, it also has amazing queer representation.

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare

From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu comes the second book in the Eldest Curses series and a thrilling new adventure for High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, for whom a death-defying mission into the heart of evil is not just a job, it’s also a romantic getaway.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson

Shaun David Hutchinson has done it again with this amazing book about two boys who fall in love while lost in space. This book is quirky, romantic, and weird in all the right ways. If the title didn’t give it away, love can sometimes be a bit complicated, especially when you also need to fight aliens.

Night Shine by Tessa Gratton

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. Nothing will soon discover 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.

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Tamsin is a powerful witch, cursed to never feel love, and Wren is a source, a rare kind of human made of magic but unable to use it. When a terrible plague results in Wren’s father getting sick she make a deal with Tamsin: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father. But love bargains can be tricky and these two have a long journey ahead of them.

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

When a series of murders threaten to expose the fae underworld of Toronto, four teens each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. Once you’ve read A Dark and Hollow Star, pick up book two, A Cruel and Fated Light!

Howl by Shaun David Hutchinson

Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Of course, no one in Merritt believes him. Not even after he stumbled into the busy town center, bleeding, battered, and bruised, for everyone to see. He’d been drinking, they said. He was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to, they said. It must’ve been a bear, or a badger, or a gator—definitely no monster. Virgil is positive it was a monster, but being the new kid in a town where everybody knows everybody is hard enough as it is without being the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he tries to keep a low profile. Except he knows the monster is still out there. And if he isn’t careful, Virgil’s afraid it’ll come back to finish him off, or worse—that he’ll become one himself.  

Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley

In this gorgeous standalone fantasy with a “sweet sapphic romance” (Booklist), a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!  

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