The best queer books inspired by myths, legends, and timeless classics

Who am I?

I loved books as a kid, especially fantasy books, but could never find anyone like me within their pages. I’m a lesbian Chinese writer who adores stories about messed-up, complicated queer people. I’m thrilled by the range of books available now that feature queer, messy characters. We all deserve representation, and to me that means representation that’s complex, that encompasses the ugly and the beautiful. One of my goals as an author is to make you fall in love with monsters—brutal, flawed women who may not deserve love, but who demand it all the same.


I wrote...

Captive in the Underworld: A Dark Lesbian Romance Novel

By Lianyu Tan,

Book cover of Captive in the Underworld: A Dark Lesbian Romance Novel

What is my book about?

What Hades wants, she takes. The goddess Hades kidnaps Persephone, goddess of spring, to be her bride. In the dark realm of the underworld, innocent Persephone chafes against her captor’s whims. But no matter the cost, Hades intends to keep her. Forever. 

Captive in the Underworld is a standalone dark lesbian romance novel set in mythological ancient Greece. It is rooted in the misogyny and cruelties of the Hades/Persephone myth and contains sensitive material. Due to mature content and dark themes, this book is intended for adult readers only. Content warnings are available inside the book and on the author’s website.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Carmilla and Laura

Lianyu Tan Why did I love this book?

This novella is a close retelling of Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, which is the OG sapphic vampire story. It recasts the ending to give the leads a happy ever after, and ups the sapphic content to modern standards, adding a bit of steaminess. Simper’s version retains Laura’s initial ambivalence and horror towards Carmilla, the historical setting, and the gothic flair. It’s a must-read for fans of the original who are looking for a more modern interpretation.

By S. D. Simper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the late 19th century, Laura lives a lonely life in a schloss by the forest, Styria, with only her doting father and two governesses for company. A chance accident brings a new companion, however – the eccentric and beautiful Carmilla.

With charm unparalleled and habits as mysterious as her history, Carmilla’s allure is undeniable, drawing Laura closer with every affectionate touch and word. Attraction blossoms into a temptation Laura fears to name, a tantalizing passion burning brighter than the fires of hell. But when a mysterious plague begins stealing the lives of young women in her home and the…


Book cover of The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Lianyu Tan Why did I love this book?

I adore Sherlock pastiches, and this is one of my favorites with its high magic urban fantasy setting, pan sorceress Sherlock, and gay trans man Watson. Obviously, the leads aren’t romantically entwined. Instead, the plot revolves around Sherlock’s ex-paramour and current client, pan Irene Adler, whose impending marriage to a woman is being threatened by blackmail.

It’s joyously irreverent with a ton of literary allusions and dear Watson’s earnest and wholesome narrative voice. If you enjoy magic with your mystery, this book is for you.

By Alexis Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Affair of the Mysterious Letter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters.

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham is drawn…


Book cover of The Witch's Daughter

Lianyu Tan Why did I love this book?

The Witch’s Daughter is the third book in the Amendyr quartet, but can be read on its own. It’s a sapphic fantasy romance told from the point of view of Mother Gothel’s witchy daughter, Ailynn, who falls in love with Rapunzel.

It’s my favorite book of the quartet, possibly because Ailynn has a somewhat complicated relationship with Rapunzel, further harmed by an instance of betrayal (content warnings apply, although they’re also spoilers—seek them out before reading if it concerns you). The Witch’s Daughter is a tale of two damaged girls trying to grow beyond their trauma bond, with found family and major parental issues.

By Rae D. Magdon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Witch's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ailynn Gothel has always been the perfect daughter. Thanks to her mother's teachings, she knows how to heal the sick, conjure the elements, and take care of Raisa, her closest and dearest friend. But when Ailynn's feelings for Raisa grow deeper, her simple life falls apart. Her mother hides Raisa deep in a cave to shield her from the world, and Ailynn must leave home in search of a spell to free her. While the kingdom beyond the forest is full of dangers, Ailynn’s greatest fear is that Raisa will no longer want her when she returns. She is a…


Book cover of A Dowry of Blood

Lianyu Tan Why did I love this book?

A Dowry of Blood is an homage to Dracula’s brides, written entirely in epistolary format by his first bride, Constanta. It starts in the middle ages and spans several centuries as Dracula (ever nameless in this book) collects two more brides besides Constanta, creating an MFFM polycule.

It’s a repudiation of abusive romantic relationships, and to that end it’s deeply satisfying. A Dowry of Blood is a standalone gothic horror, with an all-bisexual cast of vampires.

By S. T. Gibson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

S.T. Gibson's sensational novel is the darkly seductive tale of Dracula's first bride, Constanta. 

This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession. . .

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things.

Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband's dark…


Book cover of Wrath Goddess Sing

Lianyu Tan Why did I love this book?

Wrath Goddess Sing reimagines Achilles as a trans woman and rewrites her journey through the myths of the Iliad. It’s the debut novel of trans author Maya Deane.

Achilles takes several lovers, but this book is not an Achilles/Patroclus shipping vehicle, so don’t go in with that expectation. She’s delightfully complicated: brave, of course, and passionate, but also prickly at times, and hard to love. Her story casts Helen in a villainous, active role for once, and also considers how the gods function beyond Greek society; it feels extremely dense and well-researched, with a diverse cast of characters. There’s some controversy about the book, but I urge you to make up your own mind, and to reflect on the historical context that Deane is drawing upon.

By Maya Deane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wrath Goddess Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Deane's tour de force debut ...brings the familiar story to fresh, vivid, and unforgettable new life." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman's story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane's Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles' vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles, The Witch's Heart, and the Inheritance trilogy.

The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.

Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses…


You might also like...

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

Book cover of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author French teacher Avid reader Lover of medieval romance European traveler

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A medieval romance between a flame haired, fire hearted French princess descended from Viking Valkyrie and the chivalrous knight who suffers an impossible love for her-- the daughter of the king he is sworn to protect.

A Yuletide Joust will determine who wins Princess Gabrielle's royal hand in marriage and her valuable dowry, the Breton kingdom of Finistère. Without a title of nobility, the man she loves--Sir Bastien de Landuc-- is ineligible to compete in the tournament, and she will be forced to marry a man she loathes.

Will Yuletide wishes make impossible dreams come true? Can the valiant knight win the coveted hand of his Viking Valkyrie?

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

What is this book about?

Gabrielle is a flame haired, fire hearted French princess who dreams of becoming a Valkyrie warrior queen like her Viking ancestors from Normandy. Sent to Paris to learn the proper etiquette for a future French queen, she is called home to le Château de Beaufort for a forced marriage to a man she loathes when her father the king's precarious health takes a sudden turn for the worse. Chivalrous, solitary knight Sir Bastien de Landuc suffers an impossible love for Gabrielle, the unattainable princess he can never have. Without a title of nobility, he is ineligible to compete in the…


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