Today we’re moving onto books with lesbian characters and relationships! When I was going through all my books to write these posts, I noticed a pretty terrible trend in sapphic books: lets never dare mention whether a character is lesbian, bisexual, pan…. It was much more common in f/f books than it is in m/m which is quite annoying and made it rather difficult to try and celebrate books in lists like this. But! I hope I’ve managed to get together a list of ten marvellous books with lesbian characters for you to enjoy.
Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir
A book that’s not afraid to actually use the word lesbian on the blurb! Gideon the Ninth was probably one of the most hyped books of 2019, and with good reason – it brought lesbian necromancers into the mainstream. It’s a very very different book, combining very technical and complicated science with the fantasy magic of necromancy. Alongside that is a murder mystery, a complex relationship between a necromancer and her cavalier and a huge number of other characters (tip for reading this: make good use of the character guide at the start, it is hugely helpful). I found it very difficult to get into this book, but I’m glad I pushed through because I really loved the ending! Check out my full review here.
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
From lesbian necromancers to a lesbian witch! These Witches Don’t Burn follows lesbian witch Hannah, who has the power to control the four elements. If a non-witch ever sees her use magic, Hannah could lose her magic for good. Thus, she spends most of her time living a fairly normal live, avoiding her ex-girlfriend (another witch). But a blood magic ritual disrupts an end of school event, and then signs of dark magic appear all over Salem so Hannah must team up with her ex-girlfriend to try find them. These Witches Don’t Burn also now has a sequel, This Coven Won’t Break.
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
K. Ancrum is one of the authors I will always read, no matter what she writes! The Weight of the Stars is her second novel, a lesbian love story about space (kind of). Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a space exploration mission to the edge of the solar system. She stays up every night to try and catch a message from her on her radio. After a horrific accident breaks Alexandria’s arm, Ryann helps her listen to the radio and two grow closer. This is a very soft and quiet contemporary YA with an edge of science fiction, about found family and love that binds you across a solar system.
The Afterward by E.K Johnston
The Afterward is a quiet fantasy about what happens after the quest is over and the heroes have to go back to normality. Two of these heroes grew close over the quest, Kalanthe, lesbian knight, and Olsa, bi thief. But now they are back to their everyday lives. Kalanthe must betray her heart and find a husband who can pay off her debt to knight school and Olsa must find a way to esacpe thievery now that she’s famous. Switching between Before (what happened during the quest) and After (how the heroes get back to life), The Afterward is a wonderful, calming and lighthearted fantasy with a beautiful sapphic relationship as its focus. Check out my full review here!
Crier’s War by Nina Varela
Varela describes this as “lesbian slow burn enemies to lovers fantasy” and it is definitely that, I love all of these words!! This is a brilliant, well loved YA fantasy that features all your favourite tropes (including two of my favourites, enemies to lovers and ‘there’s only one bed’). Years ago, in the War of Kinds, Automae, made to be the playthings of human nobles, rose up against their human owners and took over. Now, humans are the servants and playthings of the Automae. Crier was Made to be her father’s heir, inherit the the land and rule in his place. But that was before she met Ayla, a human servant in the castle.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
This is a very dark and difficult read, so please research content warnings for this one before reading. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is about a lesbian, Muslim girl whose parents take her to Bangladesh to be married after they discover she’s gay when they catch her with her girlfriend. This books deals with lots of very difficult issues, including racism and homophobia, but ends hopefully. It was interesting to read about how Rukhsana felt dealing with all the different pulls of culture on her, from her Bengali heritage to her American upbringing. You can read my full review here.
In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard
This is a dark lesbian x bisexual retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where both are women, with an all Vietnamese cast, a blend of science and fantasy, and *drum roll* where the Beast is a motherfucking dragon. (Yes you read that correctly). Add this to the list of queer novellas which are just killing SFF right now. Dark sapphic Beauty and the Beast is the retelling we all needed.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a YA contemporary full of gorgeous, lyrical prose. It’s about Audre, a Trinidadian girl who is sent to America after her very religious mother catches her with her girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. In Minneapolis, she meets Mabel, a chronically ill girl who helps her navigate an American high school, and the two fall in love. It’s promises to be an absolutely gorgeous, so beautiful, tender sapphic love story.
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Lesbian pirates and sea monsters, oh my! I don’t think I can describe this book any better than that?! This is an action packed fantasy about Chinese-American Cas who has spend her whole life raising sea monsters to fight pirates, who then gets kidnapped by a pirate and forced to raise one of the sea monsters for the pirates. And then she falls in love with one of the pirates which really just complicates everything even more. The monster pups are just adorable (but still killing machines!), there is a fiersome (and totally sexy) pirate Queen and lots of fun, morally questionable activities!
Pulp by Robin Talley
Robin Talley is a legend in the land of queer historical fiction and Pulp is no different. This is a book told in two timelines, in 1955, where we follow Janet who explores her sexuality through books about women falling in love with other women. 62 years later, Abby is completing her senior project on classic lesbian pulp fiction, and feels strongly connected to one of the authors who wrote under the pseudonym Marian Love. Pulp is the story about the connection these two girls share even though they live completely different lives in completely different times.
That’s it for today’s glorious lesbian characters – do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments below, I always need more lesbian books in my life.