SFF by Asian Authors || Recommendations

Today I’m recommending Science Fiction and Fantasy books by Asian authors. My definition of Asian is pretty broad, ranging from India to Japan to the Pacific Islands. It also includes authors whose heritage is Asian, but who were born elsewhere – the UK, for example. The point is less about where they’re from, and more about how they identify.

I think I’ve given a pretty good range in terms of heritage, age range, and themes, so I hope you enjoy!

[Side note: All synopses in italics are from Goodreads. I tried to write my own synopsis for the ones I read, but it didn’t always happen.]

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The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo 🇲🇾

Chinese-Malaysian

Historical Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Ghost Bride is set in Malacca, Malaysia in 1893. It follows Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family. Having few prospects, she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become the bride of their recently deceased son, who died under mysterious circumstances. What follows is part ghost story, part mystery, part adventure, as Li Lan finds herself haunted by her would-be groom, and journeys through a shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife every night.

I loved how The Ghost Bride blended historical fiction, cultural practices, and mythology together. It has been a few years since I read it, but I still think it’s worth recommending. There are ghosts, and vengeful spirits, dark family secrets, and a mysterious, but charming guardian spirit, Er Lang.

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The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi 🇮🇳🇵🇭

American-born Indian-Filipino

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Maya is cursed with a horoscope that foretells of a marriage of death. She is content to occupy herself with scholarly pursuits, she is shocked when her father arranges a political marriage to quell outside rebellions. Maya finds herself queen of Akaran and the wife of Amar. Both the kingdom, and the king, are nothing like what they seem, and both are shrouded in mysteries Maya must solve.

The Star-Touched Queen is a beautifully written retelling of Hades & Persephone with Indian inspired mythology. What I love the most about it is the gorgeous world. Everything was so magical and so detailed that I was completely transported there. I also loved the sequel, A Crown of Wishes, and highly recommend that one too.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee 🇰🇷

American-born Korean, Transgender, Queer

Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Story Collection

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Conservation of Shadows is a collection of short stories that blends sci-fi and fantasy. The writing was absolutely gorgeous – it had this lilting kind of quality to it. The stories vary widely, but they often draw on philosophy, physics, and philosophy. They also share some common themes, ranging from war, colonialism, revenge, and language.

Two of my favourites were ‘Ghostweight,‘ which involves origami, spaceships, colonialism and revenge; as well as ‘Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain,’ which involves guns with very specific abilities.

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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings ed. Ellen Oh

Young Adult Fantasy Short Story Anthology

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Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

This is an absolutely fantastic collection of stories inspired by Asian mythology. There were a couple that really stood out – ‘The Land of the Morning Calm’ by E.C. Myers, which features Korean gumiho and modern technology; and ‘The Crimson Cloak’ by Cindy Pon, which is a retelling of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco 🇵🇭

Chinese-Filipino

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Honestly, I’m not even sure any synopsis I write will be adequate. The Bone Witch is about a girl named Tea who can resurrect the dead, and her journey to become an asha (essentially a magical geisha). But it is so much more than that. It’s got witches and monsters, revenge and political intrigue, necromancy and elemental magic. It explores themes such as gender and power, among other things.

This first book really lays out the groundwork for future books, focusing on worldbuilding and introducing the characters. The second instalment, The Heart Forger, has a lot more action. I haven’t read the final book yet because I really just don’t want it to end.

Want by Cindy Pon

Taiwanese

Young Adult Science Fiction

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Want is essentially a high-tech heist set in future Taipei, where pollution and environmental destruction have completely divided society. The rich and corrupt wear special suits that protect them from pollution and disease, while the poor suffer illness and early death. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and grieving his mother’s death, Jason Zhou and his friends make it their mission to change things, no matter the cost.

The plan is to infiltrate and destroy Jin Corporation, the company that manufactures he suits the rich rely on. But things don’t go to plan, and Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO.

What I appreciated was the realistic portrayal of environmental destruction and its results – not just the physical ones, like disease, but also the social/class divides that are further compound the problem. I personally found the plot a bit predictable, but the themes and worldbuilding and characters were all well done.

Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew 🇹🇭

Thai

Fantasy Novella

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Winterglass is an LGBT+ Asian retelling of The Snow Queen. Many elements from the original tale remain – the Winter Queen seeks fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire. In this novella she conquers other countries and turns them into lands of unending snow and frost. Her right hand is General Lussadh whose heart bears a mirror shard. She is loyal, but tormented by her past as a traitor to her country.

Our story takes place in Sirapirat, where General Lussadh, tasked with finding other mirror shards, finds Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon to strike down the queen.

The strengths of this novella lay in its themes. It completely normalised of all sorts of varieties of gender and sexuality. For example, General Lussadh is biologically male, but identifies as female. It explores the experience of colonisation, and how it affects not just the physical aspects of life, but also a group’s collective psyche. The other thing I really liked was the creepy magic system – ghosts are literally used as a power source.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang 🇸🇬

Singaporean, non-binary and queer

Fantasy Novella

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of novellas introducing us to the world of the Tensorate series.

Mokoya and Akeha, twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. When Mokoya developed the gift of prophecy, their lives change dramatically. As time rolls on Akeha begins to see the problems at the heart of his Mother’s Protectorate. Unwilling to continue being a pawn in her schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebel Machinists. But every step toward the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya.

This novella had a lot going on, and yet it didn’t feel rushed at all. I loved the relationship between Akeha and his twin sister, Mokoya. I loved the LGBT+ representation. This is a world in which all children are genderless until they choose. Even the elemental based magic system had an interesting twist. It’s called slack craft and is based on the five Chinese elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Wood/Forest).

I also appreciated the exploration of power, both magical and political, and how this was concentrated in the elite and educated classes. I also liked that the central conflict is bound around the development of machines, which would give the lower classes power.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Young Adult Fantasy

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Chinese – American author 🇨🇳

When her father dies, Princess Hesina of Yan commits treason. Convinced that her father was murdered, she engages the services of a soothsayer whose magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain who else to trust, Hesina turns to Akira, a brilliant investigator and convicted criminal with a mysterious past.

This Chinese-inspired fantasy has a bit of everything. A murder mystery, court politics, intrigue, the looming threat of war, a legal trial, a complicated family dynamic, soothsayers, forbidden magic, and persecution, just to name a few…

I read this in only two sittings, which is rare for me. It’s also the third book I’ve given 5 stars to this year. It is completely addictive, and I cannot recommend it enough.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 🇵🇰

UK-born Pakistani-American

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s funny that I can’t think of a way to give an overview of this book because I talked about it all the time on my YouTube channel (RIP.) Instead I’ll just use the synopsis from Goodreads.

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I think an Ember in the Ashes achieves the trifecta – great characters, phenomenal worldbuilding, and an action packed plot. It explores themes of colonialism, imperialism and genocide in a really sensitive but not overly depressing way.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad 🇫🇯

Fiji born, lives in Canada

Young Adult Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. But less than a decade ago a tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered the entire population – except for Fatima, her adoptive sister, and one other. Now Noor, and the nation of Qirat, are ruled by a new maharajah and protected by Ifrit djinn, led by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most powerful of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, and she finds herself drawn into the lives of the djinn and the royal family.

What I loved about this book was the racial and religious diversity, the fabulous world, the strong female characters, and the fascinating plot.

On My TBR

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Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri🇮🇳

Uk born

Young Adult Fantasy

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

born india

Young Adult Fantasy

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin . . . as thin as the blade of a knife.

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

born india

Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

Recent/Upcoming Releases:

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho 25 June 🇰🇷 South Korean

Young Adult Fantasy

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim 30 July 🇨🇳

Chinese

Young Adult Fantasy

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

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Books With Phenomenal Worldbuilding

For me, worldbuilding is a really important element when deciding the rating I’ll give a book. I’m not sure what the ‘correct’ definition is, but to me it’s a combination of the setting, the magic system (if there is one), the history, the culture, the religion, the political system, the language, the institutions (education, economic, judicial etc.) that keep things running, and the mythology of the world.

I love reading about new places, even if they are completely fictional, and I want to feel like I’ve been transported there. To that end, I like the worldbuilding to be detailed and immersive.

So what follows are some books I felt had phenomenal worldbuilding.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Set primarily in the UK and the US during the late 19th century, The Night Circus is a lush, atmospheric novel. While the setting is not new or unfamiliar, the way Morgenstern described the Circus in particular was magical, for want of a better word. I felt like I had been transported there, and I experienced it through all of my senses. I felt like I could smell the wood smoke, and taste the caramel popcorn. That is how real it was to me.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

I’d describe this as an Asian fusion fantasy, with very distinct Filipino & Japanese elements. Chupeco has created an expansive and detailed world for her characters to inhabit. She has not only mapped a world with various countries (all with their own unique history, culture, customs, religion, traditions and political systems), she has also constructed a fascinating hard magic system. Without gushing about it too much, it encompasses elemental magic and necromancy, and one’s gender and abilities determine the direction of one’s life. Men join the military, while women are trained to be asha (essentially geisha).

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I could rave for hours about Strange the Dreamer. The whole premise had me hook, line and sinker. A bookish librarian goes on an adventure to a lost city! What I loved the most was the writing and the world the characters inhabited, whether waking or dreaming. The dreamscapes had so much beauty and whimsy, while the real world was gritty (and sandy) and a bit darker. The magic in this book is limited to certain characters who possess one particular ability. Minya, with her ability to control ghosts, and Sarai, who can alter dreams, were particularly fascinating to me. The whole experience of reading Strange the Dreamer was absolutely magical, and I want to give a copy of the book to everyone I meet.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Yes. I DNF’d this book. But six months later the world is still so fresh in my mind that it would be remiss of me not to include it on this list. The descriptions of the world were particularly vivid, while the magic was dark and creepy. One of the enduring images I have from reading this book was the description of Godsgrave being built in and around the giant bones of long dead creatures (gods or demons maybe? The exact nature eludes me). What I found both fascinating and distracting was that a fair amount of worldbuilding was conveyed through footnotes. I still can’t decide if this is annoying, or absolutely genius. Kristoff included random notes about history, and culture, and customs in these notes, which were eminently fascinating, but which did not seem to necessarily have any particular relevance to the plot. Still, I can’t stop thinking about Godsgrave and the Red Church.

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

This is a retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus & the Minotaur, told from perspectives of Ariadne and Theseus. What I particularly loved about this novel was the focus on a society (Minoan in this case) where religion and politics were heavily interwoven, and featured women in positions of power. While the myth obviously has threads of fantasy woven through it, Dark of the Moon offers rational explanations for those elements, at least eventually, so it falls under the historical fiction genre. What was most successful about the politico-religious system of Krete in this book, as represented by Ariadne, was the contrast with the very patriarchal Greek system of Athens, as represented by Theseus.

Stain by A. G. Howard

Stain is a fairly hefty tome, but if you can tolerate the changing pace throughout the book it is well worth the read. For starters, the writing and descriptions of the world and its people are gorgeous. It also manages to capture that fairytale atmosphere – the sense of horror and whimsy all in one package. It is touted as a Princess and the Pea retelling, and I can definitely see the similarities, but it also has elements of other stories, such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid. The basic premise is that the world was cursed and split in two, one country now exists underground and is lit by the stolen moon, while the other is above ground and exists in permanent sunlight. The very fact that the author was able to convey this paradox in a believable way is a miracle, but she also makes it beautiful.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

What Children of Blood and Bone did well was the worldbuilding. While I think the plot was fairly generic, the setting and the magic really stole the show. Since our characters are essentially going on a quest, there were a lot of different places explored throughout the novel. Adeyemi did an excellent job describing them so my mental images were wonderfully vivid and detailed. There were jungles and deserts and arenas with life size ships battling it out to win. The other thing I loved was the magic system. While it was a seemingly typical elemental based magic system (plus necromancy), it was linked with the religious system, and different gods were responsible for bestowing different kinds of magic. The mythology surrounding the Orisha was completely fascinating to me, and full of colour and detail.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

While the plot and the characters were excellent, the worldbuilding was my absolute favourite part of this novel. It was so completely unlike anything I’ve ever read in my life. And that is definitely a complement. Frankly, I love the way Max Gladstone’s mind works. Three Parts Dead is set in a world of gods, and gargoyles, and vampires, and Craftsmen who practice magic and contract law simultaneously. The whole premise centres around the murder of a god, and a young Craftswoman building a case for the law courts proving said murder. It is a completely unique and fascinating fantasy novel that I highly recommend for anyone looking for something a bit different.

Bunny Books|| Easter Recommendations

In honour of Easter, and springtime in the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d recommend to you some delightful children’s books about bunnies. Some are Easter Bunnies, some are toys, and some are just bunnies living their lives. I hope you enjoy!

 

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The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Hayward

The Country Bunny was probably my favourite Easter story as a child. It’s about a young, small, female rabbit who dreams of becoming an Easter Bunny, but she is ridiculed by others so she follows the expected path and becomes a mother. She raises them well, and when they’re old enough she takes them to see the Easter Bunny selection, where her childhood dreams come true. I love the messages in this book, and they still resonate with me today.

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The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit was my favourite Bunny book ever as a child. It’s the story of a toy bunny who longs to become a real rabbit. A part of me always hoped that one day my toys would become real.

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

This is a bit longer than the other books on this list, but well worth the read. It caught my attention after it was used on a Korean drama back in 2012, and I loved it. It’s about a china rabbit called Edward Tulane who is very arrogant about his own worth. His owner, a little girl, adores him and takes very good care of him. But one day, he is lost. The story follows his journey to find his home, and all the people (and creatures) he meets on the way.

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Grandfather Bunny by Jane Werner Watson

I’ve always loved the illustrations in this Little Golden Book. Everything is so colourful! It’s the story of a bunny and his descendants painting everything from Easter eggs to snow, and everything in between. The end is sad in a metaphorical kind of way, but it’s beautiful too.

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

How could I possibly leave out this classic? Peter Rabbit is the most famous literary bunny in the world I’d wager. It’s about a young rabbit who can’t help but get into mischief (and who almost gets himself eaten).

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Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

This book was published when I was a teenager, but I read it to my baby cousin. It’s about the love between a mother and her child. What could be more beautiful?

Let’s Chat!

Have you read any of these books? What were your favourite kids books with bunnies? Have I missed any? Let me know in the comments below!

Fairytale Retellings || Recommendations

Hello all, and welcome. Today I bring you a magical recommendation list of fairytale retellings. I’ve tried to include a whole range of stories, from The Little Mermaid to Snow White. You may notice that there is a distinct absence of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast retellings. Why, you ask? Well dearies, that’s because I’m bringing you separate recommendation lists for them later this year, so keep an eye out!

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To Kill a Kingdom By Alexandra Christo

YA Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This take on The Little Mermaid is a bit darker than the Disney version. Lira is a siren princess and she has a prince’s heart for every year she’s been alive. Prince Elian is on a mission to destroy all sirens and make the sea safe again.

There’s adventure, sarcasm, friendship, morally grey characters, and an enemies to lovers romance.

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

YA Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Spinning Silver is a fairly loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with Eastern European folklore mixed in. Miryem is the daughter of money lender, and takes over his job when she’s old enough, earning more in a few months than her father earned in years. Her ability to turn silver into gold earns her the unwanted attention of the Staryk King, ruler of a non-human race who live in the snow and ice.

This book contains a beautiful wintry atmosphere, demons, bargains and three strong intelligent female leads.

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The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Goose Girl is the story of a young princess whose ambitious servant takes her place when she’s on her way to wed the prince of a neighbouring kingdom. She ends up working as a goose herder, and attracts the attention of the prince. In this version Ani, the princess, also has a magical gift for speaking to birds.

If you enjoy retellings that retain their fairytale vibe, a focus on friendship, and coming-of-age stories, The Goose Girl may be your cup of tea.

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Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Winterglass is an Asian inspired retelling of The Snow Queen. Nuawa is a gladiator who intends to kill the Winter Queen and free her country from winter’s dominion, but only if the shard of glass in her heart doesn’t kill her first. It features huge gender diversity, strong female characters, and a dark enthralling magic system that uses ghosts as energy sources. If these things pique your interest, this novella is for you.

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Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Echo North is a retelling of the Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with splashes of other legends and fairytales thrown in. Echo Alkaev makes a deal to live with a white wolf for a year in his magical house under a mountain in exchange for helping her father.

If you like books with a wintry atmosphere, libraries, fairytale mashups, and gorgeous worldbuilding, this is definitely one to try.

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Stain by A. G. Howard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Stain is a loose retelling of The Princess and the Pea with many other recognisable fairytale influences. Set in a world that has been divided in two, Eldoria exists on the surface and is bathed in permanent sun, while Nerezeth has been dragged underground along with the moon, and exists in eternal night. Princess Lyra, heir to Eldorian throne looks like the night folk, and is incapable of human speech, while Prince Vesper, crown prince of Nerezeth looks like the day folk. To reunite their world, they must find each other, even after Lyra’s evil aunt expels her from the palace, and Lyra begins life in The Ashen Ravine as a crossdressing girl called Stain.

This book is huge, but if you like found families, lush descriptions, stories about fate and embracing your scars, and you don’t mind a meandering pace, this is definitely worth a read.

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Crimson Bound By Rosamund Hodge

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crimson Bound is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in a French inspired world. When she was fifteen, Rachelle killed her aunt after being marked by a Forestborn, turning her into something both more and less than human – a Bloodbound. For three years she has worked for the King, slaying woodspawn in order to atone for her crime. Now, she is assigned by the King to guard his son, Armand, a man rumoured to have resisted the Forestborn’s curse, and who lost his hands in the process.

If you like antiheroes, complex mythology, French inspired settings, and disability representation, Crimson Bound may be to your liking.

Currently Reading

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Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Blanca & Roja is a retelling of both the ballet Swan Lake and the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red featuring Latinx sisters as the lead characters. The del Cisne girls are as different as day and night. Blanca is pale and fair, while Roja is dark with deep red hair. Blanca is sweet and gentle, while Roja is all sharp edges. And they have always known that one day they would be separated by a family curse. A curse that ensures two daughters are born every generation, and the swans in the woods will take one of them. One is destined to remain a girl, while her sister becomes a swan.

If you like magical realism, beautiful writing, stories about sisters, or sensitive transgender representation this is definitely a book that should be on your radar.

On my TBR

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Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. She is torn between two paths. Should she use her magic for good and serve mortals, or should she follow a  darker path fraught with unknown consequences? Kingdom of Ash and Briars pays homage to Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Cinderella & Jane Austen’s Emma.

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Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

This Little Mermaid Retelling explores the origins of The Sea Witch. Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

This Snow White retelling is set in a Chinese inspired world, and follows the rise of the Evil Queen. Xifeng is beautiful, and the stars say she is destined for greatness, that she will be the Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

In order to rise so high she must reject the man who loves her and embrace the magic that runs in her veins – magic that is fuelled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. But is the price fo the throne too high?

Upcoming Releases

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

YA Fantasy

Release date: 6 August 2019

House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses. Annaleigh and her sisters live in a manor by the sea, and they are cursed. At the start of the story, four of her sisters have died tragically, and Annaleigh begins to have disturbing visions which convince her that her sisters’ deaths were not accidental. Meanwhile, her other sisters sneak out every night to attend glittery balls and dance all night. But who, or what, are the really dancing with? Annaleigh must unravel the mystery before someone else dies.

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The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter

YA Fantasy

Release date: 25 June 2019

This retelling of Snow White charts the life of the Evil Queen. Raised in the mortal realm, Everly has no idea she is a fairy princess until she develops the ability to commune with mirrors. Then she discovers the awful truth, that fairytales are not only real, they are prophecies of the future, and Everly is destined to be Snow White’s greatest enemy.

Let’s chat!

What are your favourite fairytales and retellings? Have I missed any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!

African Inspired SFF || Recommendations

This is my first in a series of recommendation lists I plan to do this year. Each will revolve around some sort of unifying theme.

So I give to you my (admittedly rather short) recommendation list of African inspired sci-fi/fantasy stories. I’ve also listed some upcoming releases (including sequels) to look forward to.

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The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

YA Historical Fantasy

#1 of 3

4.5/ 5 stars

Set in 19th century Cairo, The City of Brass stars a con-woman who learns that magic is real, and that her heritage is more mysterious and surprising than she could have ever imagined. I recommend it if you are interested in Islamic mythology, you enjoy phenomenal world building, an action packed plot, and complex characters.

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

YA Fantasy

#1 of 3

5/ 5 stars

Based on Yoruba mythology from West Africa, Children of Blood and Bone is set in a world where magic and its practitioners, the maji, have been systematically destroyed, and only their children remain, cut off from the powers, their culture, and their birthright. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. If you like adventure, magic, and gods, then I recommend Children of Blood and Bone.

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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Sci Fi novella

#1 of 3

4/ 5 stars

Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor plunges us into a universe more vast and mysterious than we’ve ever imagined. Our main character, Binti, is caught between her traditional family and her desire to expand her horizons at a university in space. We follow her journey as she leaves home for the first time. Okorafor explores themes of grief, identity and mental health in this fantastic sci-fi setting.

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Mirage by Somaiya Daud

YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

# 1 of 3

4/ 5 stars

This Moroccon-inspired sci-fi fantasy takes place in a galaxy that has been defeated and oppressed by the brutal Vathek Empire. On one of the small moons, an 18 year old girl named Amani dreams of travel and adventure. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. She is forced to become a body double for the hated princess in order to keep her family safe. Those who like stories about brave women, spies and rebellions set in space, this may be the book for you.

Upcoming Releases

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Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

Fantasy

Drawn from African history and mythology

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers–he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying? (Synopsis from GoodReads)

Release Date: 5 February

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The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

# 2 in the Daevabad trilogy

Release Date: 22 January

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Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

#2 of the Orisha trilogy

Release Date: 5 March