The best books that center Black women and young Black girls in fiction

KaliVictoria Author Of The Shadows of Heaven
By KaliVictoria

Who am I?

As an own voice author, it is incredibly important for me to write characters that look like me, but it is exceptionally healing to find novels where I feel represented. My inner child yearns for more books that remind me of my adolescent wish to be a main character, to have a fleshed-out story, to be the hero or overpowered creature of the night. Being a main character means being seen and being heard, and I think now is the time to branch into every genre I can to know that any story, no matter how big or small the pages, can be done and can be Black. Happy reading! 


I wrote...

The Shadows of Heaven

By KaliVictoria,

Book cover of The Shadows of Heaven

What is my book about?

The Shadows of Heaven follows Havena Bernheim, a high school graduate who has learned to be content regarding the absence of her father’s brown skin, the silence of her mother beneath inherited brunette curls, and the intentionally barren interior in her New Jersey, childhood home. But when a typical run to the grocery store on her mother’s behalf ends with a brown-winged angel tackling a demon in front of her, Havena’s eyes are opened to an entirely new world full of enemies, love, and the depths of an angelic power that the angel realms are prophesied to fear, all because of the blood in her veins… 

The books I picked & why

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The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1

By N.K. Jemisin,

Book cover of The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1

Why this book?

N.K. Jemisin has created a classic in the making with The Fifth Season. We enter a world quite similar to ours today in terms of injustice, prejudice, stereotypes, and the foundations of hatred that have seeded their way into systemic power structures of society when it comes to race. The elements of high fantasy accompanied with Jemisin’s expressive writing are a guaranteed page-turner and will have you connected to characters like Damaya, Syenite, and Essun as they navigate, grow, and rise above the various obstacles in this story. It is dark, it is real, and it is phenomenal. 

The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1

By N.K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Fifth Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this "intricate and extraordinary" Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land…


Legendborn

By Tracy Deonn,

Book cover of Legendborn

Why this book?

It’s no surprise that Legendborn by Tracy Deonn has become such a monumental novel for Black women and young Black girls everywhere. I can only imagine how differently I would have grown up if I were given Legendborn during my adolescent years. This novel deals with themes like grief, growing pains, self-discovery, reflection, familial ties, and the most important takeaway that I have from this novel is that I can see myself in Briana Matthews, whose own voice is Black and reminds me of myself in so many ways while navigating a predominantly white institution. I’m sure the sequel will be just as amazing and impactful. 

Legendborn

By Tracy Deonn,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Legendborn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Instant New York Times Bestseller!
Winner of the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy reinvents the King Arthur legend and “braids together Southern folk traditions and Black Girl Magic into a searing modern tale of grief, power, and self-discovery” (Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles).

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill…


We Are the Origin

By C. M. Lockhart,

Book cover of We Are the Origin

Why this book?

C.M. Lockhart did an incredible job with We Are the Origin. With this book, we get to navigate a world full of gods, vessels, assassins—there are several moments where I would forget the time while I read this novel, because the world building and character arcs are just that interwoven and well executed. In terms of diversity, it’s refreshing for our main character, Brandi, to be around people that look like her while also being unapologetically herself. This story is original, the characters are well-fleshed out, and I am patiently awaiting the sequel. 

We Are the Origin

By C. M. Lockhart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Are the Origin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She was a shadow.

Forced into a life of serving the queendom before she was old enough to deny them, Brandi was a cultivator of death and the queen’s own blade, reserved only for the disloyal and the blasphemous. Crafted by the queendom and forged in blood, she was nothing more than a tool. She was never meant to have an opinion on whose blood she shed — never meant to question whose back she was pressed into or whose throat she was slipped across.

She was destruction.

But when Freya, the goddess of life and judger of souls, demands…


Faeblood Unbroken

By Alyiah Marie Gonzales, Isabel Emilie Gonzales (illustrator), Eden Railsback (editor)

Book cover of Faeblood Unbroken

Why this book?

Faeblood Unbroken by Alyiah Marie Gonzales is exactly what I needed when I started reading indie novels. In this diverse collision of fae and vampire lore, we follow Elyria through a magnetic, romantic slow burn with Zarina Sinclair, and both women are incredibly tender and fierce through Gonzales’ descriptive writing. The tension in this novel shines through how the women communicate and handle complications, while the lightheartedness in this novel does an excellent job of propelling us through the darkness of their character arcs and introspective decisions. This novel brings the feelings of women to the forefront of its imaginative storytelling, and I look forward to seeing where else the diversity will unfold as the series continues. 

Faeblood Unbroken

By Alyiah Marie Gonzales, Isabel Emilie Gonzales (illustrator), Eden Railsback (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faeblood Unbroken as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The siphons take what they want.

The faeblood blame them for everything.

And I am aware of none of it, content to bartend at Celestial Nights and spend weekends with my roommate Leafy and cheap bottles of tequila. But, when a woman with golden eyes and an electric touch sparks my world into embers and challenges everything I thought I knew about myself, a forgotten piece of home returns and leaves me at a perilous crossroads.

Zarina Sinclair now holds my heart between stiletto nails, and my own reckless curiosity yearns to see what she’ll do with it. Despite myths…


Black Water Tales: To the Moon and Back

By Jean Nicole Rivers,

Book cover of Black Water Tales: To the Moon and Back

Why this book?

Very rarely are we given the voice of a Black woman unraveling the depths of the genre that is horror. Jean Nicole Rivers gives us exactly that with Black Water Tales: To the Moon and Back, a riveting thriller that follows Simone Parker, a protagonist that wants to break generational curses while protecting her family from a haunting town legend. This novel left me wanting more as soon as I put it down, and I was incredibly happy to know that this Jean Nicole Rivers is anything but finished in terms of making sure that Black women can be seen and written into horror stories. The Black Water Tales has become a favorite series of mine, and I look forward to what’s to come… 

Black Water Tales: To the Moon and Back

By Jean Nicole Rivers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Water Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As Simone Parker’s belly swells with baby number three, she is anxious to move her husband and two daughters to her childhood home in the picturesque town of Black Water, even if it was the site of her family’s massacre twenty-three years ago. Resettling there won’t be easy, but she is determined to break generational curses and reclaim her good memories. While dismissing the adolescent, town legend that her family was murdered by the Sandman, Simone cannot deny that some unsettling haunt remains. As the evil builds to a peak marked by the brutal birth of her son, Simone is…


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