The best speculative fiction featuring sisters

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader of speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, horror, “what-if” stories of our world with a twist... you name it, I’m in. But what really sells a spec-fic story for me is the characters that populate the world – the relationships that form the heart of the otherworldly story – and I’ve always found sisterhood, in particular, extremely compelling. I’ve actually written two speculative books featuring sisters myself, and have another sisters-driven adventure coming out next year! I’m also one of three sisters, and growing up, these relationships served as the basis of so many memories, as well as informed so much of who I am.


I wrote...

City of Savages

By Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne,

Book cover of City of Savages

What is my book about?

It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.

When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either had ever imagined. After a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join an escape mission through Manhattan.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Caraval

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Why did I love this book?

I absolutely devoured this lush, evocative fantasy, which tells the story of two sisters who live in a world where a select few are invited to play an immersive, magical game on a remote island. As a writer, I found Garber’s prose to be exquisite; her fantasy world, too – and all of its secrets, spells, and wonders – was crafted meticulously and painted in sumptuous detail. But as a reader, the real driver of Caraval for me was the bond between the main character Scarlett and her sister Tella – such an unforgettable adventure with two unique heroines at its core.

By Stephanie Garber,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Caraval as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

***The Sunday Times bestseller***

WELCOME TO CARAVAL, WHERE NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser,…


Book cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Why did I love this book?

One of my favorite classics, We Have Always Lived in the Castle defies tidy genre classification. Part mystery, part coming-of-age story (with a bit of Gothic horror too), this wonderful and twisted novel from Shirley Jackson tells the story of unusual Merricat Blackwood and her older sister, the agoraphobic Constance, who live with their uncle in isolation at Blackwood House. I remember frantically turning the pages the first time I read Jackson’s story, which is such a fantastic craft study in expert pacing and psychological suspense. But there’s a beating heart to this story, too, which is what really hooks and invests me—and the singular, fierce bond between Merricat and Constance emotionally anchors Jackson’s gripping tale.

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked We Have Always Lived in the Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Living in the Blackwood family home with only her sister, Constance, and her Uncle Julian for company, Merricat just wants to preserve their delicate way of life. But ever since Constance was acquitted of murdering the rest of the family, the world isn't leaving the Blackwoods alone. And when Cousin Charles arrives, armed with overtures of friendship and a desperate need to get into the safe, Merricat must do everything in her power to protect the remaining family.


Book cover of Roses and Rot

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Why did I love this book?

Kat Howard’s novel threads so many things that I love together – sisters, reflections on making art and on the artist’s “muse,” faeries, and magical night markets. This story, a loose reimagining of Tam Lin, is set at an artists’ colony, where every seven years, the Fae living at the border of our world select the most promising artist to live among them and, in exchange, grant the artist unparalleled success when they return. But what really gripped me is how differently the two sisters of Roses and Rot consider the Fae, as well as what they’re each willing to sacrifice for fame and fortune, and these disparate attitudes result in such a riveting conclusion. If you’re like me and have a particular fascination with the artistic process and the writer’s life, this novel is not to be missed.

By Kat Howard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Imogen and her sister Marin escape their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists' retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, whether it be art or love in this critically acclaimed debut novel from "a remarkable young writer" (Neil Gaiman, American Gods).

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn't imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As…


Book cover of Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Why did I love this book?

This slim novel is actually the second in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, which I wholeheartedly recommend in its entirety. The premise: a school for teenagers who once found secret, magical doors to other worlds when they were younger—and who, for various reasons, are sent back from those worlds to ours again. I particularly loved Jack, the burgeoning mad scientist sister in Down Among the Sticks and Bones, as well as her complicated relationship with her sister, Jill. I’m also a big fan of unique worlds and high-concept premises, and McGuire’s series absolutely checks both of those boxes!

By Seanan McGuire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Down Among the Sticks and Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner: 2022 Hugo Award for Best Series
Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 ALA RUSA Fantasy Award

Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with Down Among the Sticks and Bones―a truly standalone story suitable for adult and young adult readers of urban fantasy, and the follow-up to the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List book Every Heart a Doorway

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened…


Book cover of Court of Fives

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Why did I love this book?

Kate Elliott’s young adult series feels a bit like Game of Thrones meets Little Women (both of which I loved, so Elliott’s concept was a dream mash-up for me!). The protagonist, Jessamy, lives in a fantasy world divided by class, a domain where laudable competitors compete in a series of various trials and tribulations called the Fives. As a writer, I found Elliott’s world so well thought out and executed, but it was the Little Women elements of this series that most claimed my reader heart. I treasured the quieter moments between Jessamy and her sisters, who are all memorable, fully rendered, and compelling, and the relationships between them, complex and real.

By Kate Elliott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now available in paperback, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's first young adult novel was praised by Kirkus for its "gripping, original plot; vivid, complicated characters; and layered, convincingly detailed world building."

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best contenders.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbably friendship between two Fives competitors--one of…


You might also like...

Ballad for Jasmine Town

By Molly Ringle,

Book cover of Ballad for Jasmine Town

Molly Ringle Author Of Sage and King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Editor Sociolinguist HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) Good witch

Molly's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A human child raised by the fae is an uncommon thing. But Rafi was such a child.

Now grown, half-fae but mortal, he lingers on the edge of human society in Miryoku, a nearby town sharing a border with fae territory. He doesn’t want to join the human world properly; he just wants to play music with a local cover band and avoid the cruelest members of his fae family.

Then, he meets Roxana, and his world shifts. She’s a human metalworking witch, up for a friendly fling with Rafi before she and her twelve-year-old daughter move away from Miryoku…

Ballad for Jasmine Town

By Molly Ringle,

What is this book about?

A law-abiding metalworking witch and a form-shifting half-fae musician embark on a secret romance, but soon become caught in escalating tensions between fae and humans that threaten their hometown. The second story after the popular Lava Red Feather Blue comes alive in Ballad for Jasmine Town.

The town of Miryoku has ocean views, fragrant jasmine vines, and a thriving arts scene, including a popular nineties cover band. It also sits on the verge, sharing a border with fae territory, a realm of both enchantments and dangers.

Rafi has been unusual all his life: a human born to a fae mother,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sisters, twins, and social class?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sisters, twins, and social class.

Sisters Explore 200 books about sisters
Twins Explore 66 books about twins
Social Class Explore 93 books about social class