The best fantasy novels with protagonists that are part of two worlds

Who am I?

I’m half-Filipino and half-Spanish. Growing up in the Philippines, I had to deal with many of the same emotions that the characters on this list go through. My identity made sense to me, but I found that I often had to explain it to other people, and I also found that outside my own house, people made their own opinions about whether I was more Filipino, more Spanish, or something else entirely. I’ve always been fascinated by how characters in fiction deal with this struggle, and I’ve always related more to characters who feel out of place.


I wrote...

Dauntless

By Elisa A. Bonnin,

Book cover of Dauntless

What is my book about?

Seri's world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she's ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Keeper of Night

Elisa A. Bonnin Why did I love this book?

The Keeper of Night’s protagonist Ren Scarborough is the epitome of a character trapped between two worlds. Half-British Reaper, half-Japanese Shinigami, Ren starts off the book living in London but never quite feels like she belongs there. When she travels to Japan for the first time, she finds out that Japan isn’t quite as she expected it and ends up getting tangled in the affairs of Yomi, the Japanese underworld. Although a bit on the darker side, this is a fantastic book for anyone interested in Japanese mythology, anyone who likes their fantasy a little on the dark side, and anyone who’s felt the frustration of never quite fitting in anywhere. 

By Kylie Lee Baker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Keeper of Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

“Sharp and seductive…a fantasy with teeth.” —Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

A girl of two worlds, accepted by none… A half Reaper, half Shinigami soul collector seeks her destiny in this haunting and compulsively readable dark fantasy duology set in 1890s Japan.

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami…


Book cover of Only a Monster

Elisa A. Bonnin Why did I love this book?

The protagonist of Only a Monster, Joan Hunt-Chang, also feels like someone caught between two worlds. Joan isn’t just half Chinese-Malaysian and half-British, she’s also half-monster and half-human, something that she learns at the beginning of the book. The rest of the book follows Joan as she tries to save her monster family, striking a balance between doing the right thing and embracing her monstrous heritage. Joan grapples with questions of identity, heritage and morality in this gripping fantasy novel, which also features time travel and a twist I honestly did not see coming. 

By Vanessa Len,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Only a Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In every story there is a hero and a monster.

'Mind-bending, heart wrenching, and unputdownable!' Stephanie Garber, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series and Once Upon a Broken Heart

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother's eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

Then a Good Samaritan attempt gone wrong sends Joan spinning through time, and her…


Book cover of Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Elisa A. Bonnin Why did I love this book?

This book tells the story of Xinying, the daughter of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon, and Houyi, a mortal archer. Xinying lives in the Celestial Kingdom, where she must hide her heritage and connection to the disgraced goddess Chang’e. But in the pursuit of her goal to free her mother from her prison, Xinying finds herself caught not only between the immortal and mortal realms, but between her loyalty to her mother and her relationship with Liwei, the Celestial Crown Prince. Her allegiances are tested again and again in this beautiful, immersive debut. And if you don’t want to wait too long to find out how the duology ends, you don’t have to. The sequel comes out in late 2022.

By Sue Lynn Tan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Daughter of the Moon Goddess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.

A young woman's quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm, setting her on a dangerous path where those she loves are not the only ones at risk...

*THE INSTANT TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*

THERE ARE MANY LEGENDS ABOUT MY MOTHER...

Raised far away on the moon, Xingyin was unaware she was being hidden from the Celestial Emperor - who exiled her mother for stealing the elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and reveals her, Xingyin is…


Book cover of A Dark and Hollow Star

Elisa A. Bonnin Why did I love this book?

Ashley Shuttleworth’s debut, A Dark and Hollow Star, features four POV characters, and one of them, Arlo, continues the trend of being half-human, half-something else. Arlo’s father is human, but her mother is a high-ranking member of a Faerie Court. That means Arlo is technically something like faerie royalty, even though her status in the faerie world is uncertain. Over the course of the book, Arlo must deal with her growing relationship with Nausicaä, a disgraced Fury, while also trying to prove she has enough magic to avoid being cast out of faerie society to live her life as a human. As a bonus, all the POV characters in this engaging, extremely queer debut find their own ways to engage with the divide between human and fae. 

By Ashley Shuttleworth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Dark and Hollow Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Beautifully written and deliciously complex…I couldn’t get enough.” —Nicki Pau Preto, author of the Crown of Feathers series

The Cruel Prince meets City of Bones in this thrilling urban fantasy set in the magical underworld of Toronto that follows a queer cast of characters racing to stop a serial killer whose crimes could expose the hidden world of faeries to humans.

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The…


Book cover of The Ivory Key

Elisa A. Bonnin Why did I love this book?

This book tells the story of four siblings, all of whom have a complicated relationship with their nation Ashoka and each other. Though they’re estranged from each other, the siblings must set aside their differences and work together to follow a series of clues leading them to the Ivory Key, a fabled source of infinite magic. I loved this book’s mix of adventure and puzzle-solving, and would recommend it to anyone no matter what, but this book also has a POV character stuck between two worlds. Kaleb, one of the four siblings, is half-Ashokan and half-Lyrian, the country at war with Ashoka, and he struggles to reconcile his identity with his loyalty to his family and nation. I highly recommend picking up this debut!

By Akshaya Raman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ivory Key as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Four siblings. A country in ruin. One quest to save them all.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother's shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country's only quarry running out of magic - a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict - she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they'll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira's only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumoured to unlock…


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Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A test of leadership, loyalty, and legacy. Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.

As the stakes rise and the fragile foundations of Terra Blanca begin to crumble, Rylie is forced to confront her own beliefs and faces a leadership decision that could change the course of history. Can she find the strength to make the right choice, or will her actions lead to the downfall of the very people she has vowed to protect?

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.


Thrust into a new world of power and responsibility, Rylie must navigate the treacherous waters of team dynamics and power struggles as she fights to make Terra Blanca a beacon of hope amidst the chaos. But her mission takes a sinister turn when a secret agent infiltrates the community, hell-bent on testing the innovative governance and social structures…


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