100 books like The Merry Spinster

By Daniel M. Lavery,

Here are 100 books that The Merry Spinster fans have personally recommended if you like The Merry Spinster. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Tim Pratt Author Of Heirs of Grace

From my list on fantasy with women heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been reading fantasy for 42 years and writing it for 40, and because I was raised by badass women, I've always enjoyed tales of clever, kickass, indomitable heroines. I've written a bunch of them (a dozen books in an urban fantasy series about a sorcerer named Marla Mason; four books in the Axiom space opera series about ship captain Callie Machedo and her love interest, time refugee xenobiologist Elena Oh; contemporary fantasy/romance Heirs of Grace, about an art student who discovers a magical inheritance, and more). I'm also a longtime book reviewer, editor at SF/fantasy trade magazine Locus, and frequent award juror (Bradbury Prize, Philip K. Dick Award, and more), so... I think about SF/fantasy books a lot. 


Tim's book list on fantasy with women heroines

Tim Pratt Why did Tim love this book?

Gideon the Ninth lit up the sky of the science fiction/fantasy world when it was published, launching the Locked Tomb series (which is ongoing, and great; third volume Nona the Ninth is especially lovely).

It's been described as "lesbian necromancers in space" but it's more "lesbian necromancer and swordsperson on various weird planets in the far future with a god-emperor who uses death magic to fight planet-sized spectral monsters...." for a start.

The whole series is enigmatic, complex, and laced through with humor, action, and yearning, but the first book is notable for the power of Gideon's voice.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…


Book cover of When I Arrived at the Castle

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

With her singular art style and effortless storytelling skill, Emily Carroll has long been a favorite of mine. When I Arrived at the Castle is a tour de force in erotic horror, comic artistry, and, yes, a very complicated catgirl x vampiress relationship. This is one of those books I am shocked even exists, so thoroughly does it cater to my deepest desires: lush shots of catgirls in bathtubs, peeks at vampiresses through their bedroom keyholes, metaphors so subtle I always find something new when I reread. Carroll outdoes herself with suspense, sexuality, and a sexy red-black-and-grey limited color palette.

By Emily Carroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When I Arrived at the Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like many before her that have never come back, she’s made it to the Countess’ castle determined to snuff out the horror, but she could never be prepared for what hides within its turrets; what unfurls under its fluttering flags. Emily Carroll has fashioned a rich gothic horror charged with eroticism that doesn’t just make your skin crawl, it crawls into it.


Book cover of O Human Star: Volume 1

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

As a friend sputtered to me over a voice call: “I don’t understand. It’s free to read online; where is everybody?!” 

I agree wholeheartedly. O Human Star is that rare breed: a webcomic taken up over a decade ago, thoroughly plotted from the start, executed with masterful grace and gravitas by an author who loved it enough to do it justice. While executing this story of gay and trans self-understanding, Delliquanti themself realized they were trans, so the pronouns in my (signed!!) copies are different based on when they came out. Finding even a well-written cis gay man was hard in 2012, let alone such a deeply loving story about the entire LGBT community—and all that is to say nothing of the robots. Trans robots FTW!

By Blue Delliquanti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked O Human Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Dark and Other Love Stories

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

This final book is the catalyst for my own: the book that, resting in my hands at the library, made me realize that I could just do this. If I loved reading short stories so much, if I so deeply enjoyed reading about gay girls with horses and game show contestants going to Mars, why couldn’t someone love my own body of work, transsexually languishing in my Google Drive? There can never be enough praise for The Dark, which delivers tonally consistent and individually unique stories that glue me to my seat every time. A big thank you to Deborah Willis, and to whoever put her book on hold that day I was volunteering at the library: I loved her work, and it inspired me to put mine out there. 

By Deborah Willis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dark and Other Love Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every house is haunted. A drug dealer's girlfriend signs up for the first manned mission to Mars. A girl falls in love with a man who wants to turn her into a bird. A teenaged girl and her best friend test their relationship by breaking into suburban houses. A wife finds a gaping hole in the floor of the home she shares with her husband, a hole that only she can see. Full of longing and strange humor, these…


Book cover of The Light Princess

Hester Velmans Author Of Slipper

From my list on forgotten fairy tales every adult should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of seven, already a devoted bookworm, I came upon a large stack of early-20th century children's magazines filled with stories, poems, and especially fairy tales, some the classic kind, and some weird, scary or unfamiliar. I don't know where those dog-eared, well-thumbed annuals came from, or what happened to them afterward – they were lost or given away when our family moved, I suppose. But I have never forgotten them, or the effect they had on my imagination and longings. I've been searching for those long-lost tales ever since... and it finally led me to decide I would just have to write a few of my own.

Hester's book list on forgotten fairy tales every adult should read

Hester Velmans Why did Hester love this book?

The 19th-century Scottish writer George MacDonald is said to be the father of the modern fairy tale, inspiring C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and many others. I chose The Light Princess because I find it his most charming tale: it's about a princess under a wicked spell who has been made weightless, unable to obey the laws of gravity. As in all good fairy tales, a prince eventually comes along to drag her back down to earth. He must sacrifice himself for her, but in the end, it is she who rescues him – from a feminist perspective, a most gratifying conclusion.

By George MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

George MacDonald (1824-1905), the great nineteenth-century innovator of modern fantasy, influenced not only C. S. Lewis but also such literary masters as Charles Williams and J. R. R. Tolkien. Though his longer fairy tales Lilith and Phantastes are particularly famous, much of MacDonald’s best fantasy writing is found in his shorter stories. In this volume editor Glenn Sadler has compiled some of MacDonald’s finest short works―marvelous fairy tales and stories certain to delight readers familiar with MacDonald and those about to meet him for the first time.


Book cover of The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories

G.G. Andrew Author Of Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish

From my list on Halloween romance books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong fan of Halloween, from the time I visited my town’s haunted house as a young kid in the 1980s to watching horror movies as an adult. As a writer of romance and romantic women’s fiction, love stories are also my jam. Many people think horror and romance aren’t compatible, but I combined both in my novella series Crazy, Sexy, Ghoulish, and the books in this list prove that Halloween and romance are meant to be.

G.G.'s book list on Halloween romance books

G.G. Andrew Why did G.G. love this book?

I return to this dark, sensual collection of Angela Carter stories most autumns, often through audio book. While these are not technically romance stories, they’re what I call romance-adjacent: fairy tales centered on love and passion—and their dangers—with gorgeous language and twists that subvert your expectations.

My favorite story here is “In the Company of Wolves,” but really that’s like choosing a favorite child.

By Angela Carter,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bloody Chamber as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by Helen Simpson. From familiar fairy tales and legends - Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves - Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.


Book cover of I Am Not Your Final Girl

Andrea Blythe Author Of Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale

From my list on women reclaiming their own power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated fairy tales, folklore, and horror since I was a child, drawn to these strange stories in which wondrous and terrifying things happen. In many of these tales, the women often lack a sense of agency or control over their lives and work for a better life within the limitations of their situation. The act of retelling these stories provides space to explore this lack of power and how these women might find clever or unusual ways to reclaim it. In particular, I’m interested in the ways characters might make use of the danger or darkness around them to carve their own path in the world. 

Andrea's book list on women reclaiming their own power

Andrea Blythe Why did Andrea love this book?

Much like fairy tales and folklore, horror stories have their own rules and tropes for how the female protagonists or villains are expected to behave within the confines of their own stories. I Am Not Your Final Girl is a powerful collection of horror-themed poetry that gives voice to female characters from horror cinema — the survivors, victims, and monsters who prowl through dark worlds, facing oppression, persecution, violence, and death. Holland’s words provide these women a platform to channel their pain, trauma, and rage into a galvanizing force. These women are survivors and fighters, women who claim their own power and take ownership over their own bodies. They do not give up; they do not relent. 

By Claire C. Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Not Your Final Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now an Elgin Award-nominated book!

"There is nothing else in this world / like realizing / you’re going to live / and not being sure / you can."

From Claire C. Holland, a timely collection of poetry that follows the final girl of slasher cinema - the girl who survives until the end - on a journey of retribution and reclamation. From the white picket fences of 1970s Haddonfield to the apocalyptic end of the world, Holland confronts the role of women in relation to subjects including feminism, sexuality, violence, and healing in the world of Trump and the MeToo…


Book cover of The Mermaid of Black Conch

Therese Down Author Of The Estate Agent

From my list on lighting up your imagination and your soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love stories grounded in realism - but which also explore that there may be more to life than meets the eye; reasons beyond reason, for the way we dream, love, and think, and which come from unexpected sources. I love books whose characters really 'live', and stay with me, long after I've finished reading. I aspire to create such characters. In my novels, I seek to explore important themes from perspectives that often pitch rationality against what it cannot explain, or dismiss. The fiction I most love does this – whether it exploits mythology, suggests life beyond life, or uses magical realism to add ‘other’ dimensions to the ordinary. "There are more things… Horatio…"

Therese's book list on lighting up your imagination and your soul

Therese Down Why did Therese love this book?

The Mermaid of Black Conch takes a mythological creature and gives her extraordinary life, as a very real, young woman, called Aycayia.

She is caught – hooked like a prize fish - by greedy anglers, and hauled from the sea, bringing with her an already fascinating and tragic history of injustice and misunderstanding. But, she is also an object of love.

Not all fishermen are commercial opportunists… Not all men are eager to exploit beautiful and unusual women, and so begins an extraordinary rescue, and a life-affirming relationship, with many unpredictable, literally magical, and truly remarkable twists.

This enchanting book, written with breath-taking originality, is likely to spell-bind you – permanently. You’ll never again think of mermaids in the same way.

By Monique Roffey,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Mermaid of Black Conch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Escape to the ocean with the entrancing, unforgettable winner of the Costa Book of the Year - as read on BBC Radio 4.

'Mesmerising' MAGGIE O'FARRELL
'A unique talent' BERNARDINE EVARISTO
'Wonderful' BRIDGET COLLINS
'Brilliant' CLARE CHAMBERS

Near the island of Black Conch, a fisherman sings to himself while waiting for a catch. But David attracts a sea-dweller that he never expected - Aycayia, an innocent young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid.

When American tourists capture Aycayia, David rescues her and vows to win her trust. Slowly, painfully, she transforms into a woman again. Yet…


Book cover of Chlorine

Iphigenia Jones Author Of What Would Wednesday Do?: Gothic Guidance and Macabre Musings from Your Favorite Addams Family Member

From my list on reading like Wednesday Addams and indulging your dark side.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to the creepy and kooky world of the Addams Family. I’ve watched every episode of the 1960s sitcom. I fell in love with the 90s films, and when the Netflix adaptation Wednesday aired, I streamed every episode immediately. I’ve written two books based on Wednesday and her family, and I have an upcoming cocktail book with recipes based on gothic literature. My love of horror books and my understanding of the Addams family led me to seek out the perfect list of Wednesday read-alikes.

Iphigenia's book list on reading like Wednesday Addams and indulging your dark side

Iphigenia Jones Why did Iphigenia love this book?

In this slow-burn literary horror, Ren Yu is an obsessive swimmer on her high school team. But beyond these human concerns, she is convinced that she is actually a mermaid. Her determination to assume her true form comes with no reservations, and she will achieve her transformation by any means necessary.

This book is strange. It’s both lyrical in some places and purposefully dry in others. It is an examination of an obsessive descent into madness, working to draw the reader into the protagonist’s unsettling perspective.

I found myself falling into Ren Yu’s world and swimming in her insanity, which Wednesday (and all the Addams) find quite satisfying.

By Jade Song,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the vein of The Pisces and The Vegetarian, Chlorine is a debut novel that blurs the line between a literary coming-of-age narrative and a dark unsettling horror tale, told from an adult perspective on the trials and tribulations of growing up in a society that puts pressure on young women and their bodies… a powerful, relevant novel of immigration, sapphic longing, and fierce, defiant becoming.


Ren Yu is a swimmer. Her daily life starts and ends with the pool. Her teammates are her only friends. Her coach is her guiding light. If she swims well enough, she will be…


Book cover of This Is Sadie

Talitha Shipman Author Of Finding Beauty

From my list on inspiring childlike wonder for all ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children's book author-illustrator. I’ve spent the last fifteen years dreaming up stories that I hope will inspire curiosity and wonder in kids of all ages. I’m also a life-long learner! I can’t get enough info about this amazing world we live in. The more I learn, the more I realize that being a noticer, someone who slows down to observe the tiny details around them, will inspire questions and the need to find some surprising and fascinating answers. When my daughter asks a question (and there are many), my mantra has become, “I don’t know, let’s find out!” I hope this list inspires your own adventurous inquiries.

Talitha's book list on inspiring childlike wonder for all ages

Talitha Shipman Why did Talitha love this book?

Of course, I’m going to have some picture books on this list, and This is Sadie is one of my all-time favorite books. It makes me feel like a kid again.

With spare yet thoughtful words from O’Leary and whimsical illustrations by Morstad, you are transported to a time and place where adult worries and preoccupations don’t exist. Sadie is a hero, a mermaid, an archer in a fairy tale, and was also raised by wolves.

Oh, and she has wings! It’s a magical and powerful portrayal of childhood imagination.

By Sara O’Leary, Julie Morstad (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked This Is Sadie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Now in board book, the beloved story about a little girl with a big imagination from the award-winning team of Sara O'Leary and Julie Morstad.

Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under
the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and
visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks
to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but
that always bring her home again. She likes to make things…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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