The best LGBT fantasy books that make you believe in true love again

Nicole Kimberling Author Of The Sea of Stars
By Nicole Kimberling

The Books I Picked & Why

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation

By Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, Marina Privalova

Book cover of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation

Why this book?

This book was my introduction to Chinese danmei (AKA boy’s love) novels and also my introduction to Xianxia (fantasy/cultivation) novels. I hunted down a fan translation after watching its live-action adaptation, The Untamed, on Netflix. I cannot recommend it enough to readers who want to sample a fantasy romance set in a non-Western setting. Ultra-romantic, gripping, and full of relevant present-day social commentary. An excellent introduction to this rich and amazing genre and with a brand-new New York Times bestselling official English translation.

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Lord of the White Hell: Book One

By Ginn Hale

Book cover of Lord of the White Hell: Book One

Why this book?

This novel is everything—a school story, a coming-of-age story, a fish-out-of-water story as well as being chock-full of swords and sorcery. It follows genius mechanist Kiram Kir-Zaki as he journeys far away from his home to attend the prestigious Sagrada Academy where he hopes to make the connections that will earn him a place in the king’s court. Instead, he finds himself shunned on account of his race and compelled to share a room with a man who is widely believed to have no soul. If two hot outcasts being forced to share a room and eventually falling so deeply in love that death itself cannot separate them, then this book is your cup of tea.

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Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners

By Ellen Kushner

Book cover of Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners

Why this book?

I read this book way, way back in 1988. It was the first fantasy novel I’d ever read that had a queer character who was not a villain. I loved everything about it. The wonderful cover art, the baroque details of the setting—the banter. This is not a romance-heavy title but it had such influence on authors that came after that any serious fan should give it a read. 

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To Rule in a Turbulent World

By Fei Tian Ye Xiang

Book cover of To Rule in a Turbulent World

Why this book?

When we first meet our protagonist, You Miao is a smug, lazy scholar hanging around studying for the Imperial examination, but when he saves the life of an enslaved warrior Li Zhifeng his life changes forever. Together the two of them revitalize a rundown estate, navigate court intrigue, and weather an invasion. A big, sweeping epic from a leader in the genre. I’d been writing in the mystery genre for quite some time and this book made me want to write fantasy novels again.

This book is available here.

The Husky and His White Cat Shizun: Erha He Ta De Bai Mao Shizun (Novel) Vol. 1

By Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou

Book cover of The Husky and His White Cat Shizun: Erha He Ta De Bai Mao Shizun (Novel) Vol. 1

Why this book?

Probably the most astonishing book I’ve read in the last five years. Imagine every dramatic extreme you ever thought you wanted in a novel—love, intrigue, brutality, violence, scenes as sweet as candy, spectacular magic, cataclysmic struggles, good and evil writ large across the sky... Then imagine that they were all packed into the same novel and that novel was so hilarious that you laughed out loud, so profound that you quoted it unintentionally, so heartbreaking you had to actually read through tears. Compulsively readable with characters that readers love, hate, hate to love and love to hate. It gave me a book hangover that still hasn’t gone away six months later. I routinely force my friends to read the first few pages of this story—one time I even paid someone five bucks just to try it. It’s that good. An official English translation will be available Fall 2022

Please be aware that this book is absolutely not for children and sensitive readers should take the trigger warnings seriously.

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