Christmas is soon approaching (where has this year gone?!) and I wanted to create a gift guide for the Sapphic book lovers in your life. This is a list of 10 hardcover fictional books that contain WLW characters AND come in a hardcover version that is just perfect for Christmas gift-giving.
There is something ultra special about receiving a hardcover for Christmas isn’t there? I always appreciate the indulgence of purchasing my favourite books in hardcover throughout the year (all about a treat yourself moment, particularly in 2020), but when receiving one as a gift for Christmas, I always treasure it even more. Hardcover books will look stunning on your bookcase and the book jacket shows off the gorgeous cover art each author has carefully thought through as a vision to their story.
We now commence my edit of 10 gorgeous hardcover WLW fiction books you can give this Christmas. All books also come in paperback if that is your preference.
1. Escape To Pirate Island by Niamh Murphy
Cat Meadows and Lily Exquemelin are forced to make a desperate escape which finds themselves on a Trans-Atlantic adventure that will pit them against pirates, mutineers, lost treasure, and each other! Will Cat, a smuggler and Lily who has been left nothing by her father but his troubles and his treasure map, learn to trust one another and escape the clutches of their would-be captors?
This book is for anyone who loves reading about independent women, lesbian pirates, and exciting stories with female lead characters. Set in 1720, this is a story you will also love if you are a fan of historical fiction!
2. Ink In The Blood by Kim Smejkal
Kim Smejkal is a dark fantasy author from Vancouver who writes YA fiction. Ink In The Blood is a YA fantasy that is all about tattoo magic and features queer representation including lesbian, bisexual and gay characters. Ink In The Blood’s sequel will be released in 2021.
Celia Sand and Anya Burtonia are inklings who tattoo their followers and belong to a special religion called Profeta. However 10 years into their service, they realise Profeta has been built on lies which leads them to make an escape. Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a travelling theatre troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, they are happy, until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is now very real and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further. They must work together to protect their family and unmask the truth.
“Smejkal’s smart debut blends magic and religion into a lyrical fantasy….the poetic prose and brilliant characters shine from page one.”—Booklist
Ink In The Blood was published in February of this year so is the perfect gift for a WLW reader who always wants to be up to date with the newest releases!
3. Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
It has been 200 years since Cinderella found her prince. However now teenage girls must attend an Annual Ball where men of the Kingdom must select their wives and if a girl is not chosen, she will never be heard from again. Sophia decides she does not want to be involved in this Ball and ends up fleeing to find herself in Cinderella’s mausoleum. She meets the last descendant of Cinderella, Constance, and together aim to bring down the King.
This is a Sapphic story with incredible independent women characters who are inspiring and teach girls that they should be determined and brave.
“Girls team up to overthrow the kingdom in this unique and powerful retelling of Cinderella from a stunning new voice that’s perfect for fans of Dhonielle Clayton and Melissa Albert.“
If you have a fan of fairytales that you are looking to gift a present to this Christmas, you might want to read my book list of 10 beautiful fairytale retellings with WLW characters. I featured Cinderella Is Dead in this list along with many other dreamy fairytale adaptations.
4. Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller
Linsey Miller is a fantasy writer of magic and science. Belle Révolte is a French-inspired fantasy about two girls who must swap lives and work as a team to end a war caused by magic and greed.
Living very different paths, Emilie is desperate to become a physician and serve her country while Annette wants to be trained in magic. When Emilie offers Annette the chance to swap lives, she jumps at the chance. However, when a terrible war occurs, the two must come together before it is too late.
“A realistically diverse fantasy world…Hand to any lover of magic, rebellion, secrets, and self-discovery” – Rebecca Gonner, Booklist.
Belle Révolte is an LGBTQI+ fairytale containing asexual and aromantic representation and is appropriate for tweens and teens so is the perfect gift for the younger people in your life and adults alike who love a bit of magic!
Miller has also released her debut duology Mask of Shadows and Ruin of Stars which contains genderfluid representation and has another standalone fantasy Novel being released in 2021.
5. The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine
The Cursed Queen is the second book in Sarah Fine’s The Imposter Queen series. Book 2 contains a lesbian pairing and other LGBTQI+ characters, whilst Book 1 contains a Bisexual main character.
Blood and victory are the way of Ansa’s life. She has always been a fighter. But when Krigere crosses the great lake, her life is changed. Ansa must fight against the queen’s curse and dark magic. She is torn between her loyalty to Krigere, her love for Thyra and her survival instincts.
Fine has released over 20 books including contemporary romance, urban fantasy, YA fiction and futuristic psychological thrillers. The Cursed Queen is part of the Imposter Queen Series and includes high fantasy with hints of romance.
6. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear is a science-fiction and fantasy writer. Karen Memory is book 1 of the Karen Memory series.
Set in the late 19th century in a steampunk universe. When the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the goldfields of Alaska. This story follows Karen Memory an orphan who works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street with many other girls. One night a badly injured girl arrives and begs for sanctuary and the next night they mysteriously find a dead body of a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
“Elizabeth Bear launches a trilogy in a fantastic new world with this compelling tale.… Bear creates a vivid world where wizards must sacrifice their ability to procreate in order to control magic and the sky changes to reflect the gods of the land’s rulers.” ―Publishers Weekly on Range of Ghosts
Karen Memory features a variety of different sexual identities and contains a lesbian love story with a happy ending!
7. The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Aliette de Bodard is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. Aliette has won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award, a European Science Fiction Society Award, a British Fantasy Award and four BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) Awards. House of Shattered Wings has characters that are powerful and queer!
The House of Shattered Wings is a murder mystery set in a ruined Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War, under the rule of Fallen angels. Paris is unrecognisable with haunted ruins, Notre Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life is attempting to continue. The Great Houses still compete for dominion over France’s once grand capital. House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Within the House Silverspires, three very different people must come together.
8. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens. The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Queen Sabran the Ninth has been told she must conceive a daughter to ensure her realm is protected but assassins are already getting closer. Ead Duryan keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her as an outsider using forbidden magic. Tané a dragon rider must make a choice when across the dark sea and the East and West experience chaos.
‘I have been waiting my whole life for this fantasy. It’s the kind of book you never want to end. Utterly unique, wild, and rich. Sheer perfection’ – Lisa Lueddecke, author of A Storm of Ice and Stars
The Priory of the Orange Tree contains a queer love story between two well developed strong female characters that is a slow burn, there are dragons, magic and lots of magic!
9. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Rebecca Roanhorse is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn.
Tova, the Holy City, has a Winter solstice that is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse which proscribed by the Sun Priest is an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova aiming to arrive at solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala (bisexual character), is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her. Her ship carries Serapio, a young blind man who is harmless but may end up being a villain.
You learn about Xiala’s relationships as a bisexual woman and other identities are represented including lesbian, gay and trans characters! This is overall an epic fantasy about magic, religion and beliefs that is inspired by civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas.
10. Crier’s War by Nina Varela
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will. A human servant called Ayla dreams of avenging her family’s death..by killing the sovereign’s daughter. An evil new leader is on the rise and now Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
“Crier’s War is a beautiful poem of a book. Fans of both fantasy and sci-fi: this book is for you.” (Tara Sim, Author of the Timekeeper Trilogy)
If you know a Game of Thrones fan who is looking for something new and some representation of Bisexual and Lesbian main characters, then this may be the perfect gift.