For those plugged in too deeply to Writing Twitter, we know what the hot topic of the week is: adult fantasy books are bad. For those who spend their time productively, let me recap. For the 100th time, there have been tweets about how:
- there are no fantasy books about 20 year-olds
- all adult fantasies have sex scenes
- white cishet men dominate the genre, and there is no author diversity
- there is no diversity/representation in the novels themselves
I know this is wrong. You likely know this is wrong! This post will do nothing to deter these people being willfully ignorant and ignoring some of the best authors of our time. But there is something I can do, and that is recommend some amazing adult fantasy novels and authors. Sit down and enjoy!
If you’re looking for high fantasy, try…
THE INHERITANCE TRILOGY and THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY by N.K. JEMISIN
Jemisin is a powerful writer and one of the best out there right now and the first Black woman to win a Hugo for Best Novel (and then she won 2 more, consecutively). Heed content warnings before you begin; her content is heavy and triggering, and you should go in prepared. But damn is it ever good.
THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO by K.S. VILLOSO
A 2020 publication, the first line of Villoso’s novel is so gripping I had to stop for a few hours just to think about it. A Filipino-Canadian writing Filipino epic fantasy, and, best of all, 2 more books forthcoming in the series! Though I’m not done, it reminds me of the very first adult fantasies I read as a youth, but with a new and much needed perspective.
If you’re looking for urban fantasy, try…
Edit, June 19: I have removed my recommendation for Paul Krueger’s works after finding out about his serial harassment, which I cannot and will not abide. Many thanks to the people who brought these allegations forward; I am learning and repairing what damage I can.
HARRIETTA LEE SERIES by STEPHANIE AHN
Would I be me without plugging a mutual’s work? Of course not. Ahn writes about lesbians and magic, and just published the third book in her series about a lesbian who uses magic. Messy and sexy and everything else in-between. If you want one of those adult fantasies with sex scenes, this one is definitely worth the hype.
If you’re looking for a prolific author, try…
Writing as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West, this Japanese-Canadian author has 15 books in her Chronicles of Elantra series alone. Sagara has been writing since the 1990s and her novels inspire the same feeling of awe as the prolific White male authors of the time. I highly recommend The Sacred Hunt duology.
A disabled Jamaican-Canadian currently in the USA, Hopkinson’s first novel was published in 1998, and she’s been writing ever since. Her works centre around strong women of various ages and often transcend the sci-fi/fantasy border – making her a staple for those in both genres searching for diversity. Her writing has an unforgettably strong voice.
If you’re looking for a debut author, try…
Look, THE UNSPOKEN NAME has lesbian orcs, and Larkwood herself has a wife*. Just go buy it.
*I don’t know her orientation specifically, and don’t want to assume, but she sure isn’t straight. Also, again: the book has lesbian orcs. Go buy it.
Callender is a debut author who has debuted over… pretty much every age category in the past year, making their work another great entry way to adult fantasy with QUEEN OF THE CONQUERED. A queer Black author writing queer Black novels – and a lovely person to boot. It takes a great author to pen so many books in such a short span of time, let alone one who can span genres and age brackets.
This is just a tiny sample of the amazing diverse works out there. Books with 20-30 year old protags, books with sex, books without, books by POC about POC, books by queer people about queer people – adult fantasy offers all this! And, if you want even more individual reccs, you can always reach out to me – I might not have anything specific, but at the very least, I can guide you to the good stuff. Happy readings.
Sending magic your way,