Hi friends! This winter is shaping up to be a great season for sapphic books, and I can’t wait to get my hands on as many of these as possible. All of these are young adult releases from January-March 2020. If you know of any not on this list, please let me know! I’m always looking for as many sapphic books as I can get my hands on. And, I’m loving the increasing presences of queer women in fantasy, which there is no shortage of in this list!
1) Blood Countess by Lana Popović
Release date: January 28th, 2020
Vampires? Lady slayers? F/F? Say no more.
Synopsis: “A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula
In 17th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.”
2) The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
I saw someone describe this one as “lesbian political fantasy on ice.” This was something I didn’t even know I needed, but here we are! And those comp titles? All you need to say is it’s part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, and I’m sold.
Synopsis: “An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.
When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.
Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.”
3) Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran
Release date: April 6th, 2020
Queer fantasy, with a queen and her spymaster? This one may potentially be a standalone. (The author says everything is wrapped up but there’s potentially for more, so it is a standalone at the moment). I could always use some more great standalone fantasies in my life.
Synopsis: ‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’
When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.
Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?
In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …”
4) Music From Another World by Robin Talley
Release date: March 31st, 2020
Another queer historical fiction from Talley! Here we get an epistolary novel from the POV of two girls in 1977. I have hopes for this one after enjoying Pulp by Talley, which follows a modern day queer girl and another from the time of pulp novels.
Synopsis: “It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.
Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.
A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.”
5) Look by Zan Romanoff
Release date: March 31st, 2020
A queer coming-of-age novel that follows a social media influencer. I saw this one recommended for fans of Emergency Contact and We Are Okay and was immediatley sold.
Synopsis: Things Lulu Shapiro’s 10,000 Flash followers don’t know about her:
* That the video of her with another girl was never supposed to go public.
* That Owen definitely wasn’t supposed to break up with her because of it.
* That behind the carefully crafted selfies and scenes Lulu projects onto people’s screens, her life feels like a terrible, uncertain mess.
Then Lulu meets Cass. Cass isn’t interested in looking at Lulu’s life, only in living in it. And The Hotel–a gorgeous space with an intriguing, Old Hollywood history and a trust-fund kid to restore it–seems like the perfect, secret place for them to get to know each other. But just because Lulu has stepped out of the spotlight doesn’t mean it’ll stop following her every move.
It’s a story about what you present vs. who you really are, about real intimacy and manufactured intimacy and the blurring of that line. It’s a deceptively glamorous, feminist, emotionally complex, utterly compelling, queer coming-of-age novel about falling in love and taking ownership of your own self–your whole self–in the age of social media.
6) Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal
Release date: February 11th, 2020
Two words: tattoo magic. And don’t forget a heck of a lot of queer characters. With confirmed (by the author) on page f/f rep!
Synopsis: “A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.
Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.
Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.
To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.”
7) Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
Release date: March 3rd, 2020
One of my absolutely favourite things right now is queer witch books. So here’s another one I can’t wait to read. On a level of 1 to 10 for how gay this book is going to be, the author answered “hella gay.” Sign me up.
Synopsis: “Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down.”
8) Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
Release date: January 14th, 2020
Fan of retellings? This is one to check out. It’s a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Red Shoes” plus some historical events.
EDIT: This one is NOT sapphic. I’m not sure where I saw this one referred to as WLW for me to include it in my list, but from what I gathered, there were no sapphic characters, but there was a trans boy and romance with him. So, this book has some great LGBTQ+ rep there, but this book isn’t sapphic rep.
Synopsis: “Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.
Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.”
9) When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
Release date: March 3rd, 2020
More. Queer. Witches !!!
Synopsis: “A sly, witchy dark comedy about four teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”
Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.
Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.
That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.
When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.”
10) Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller
Release date: February 4th, 2020
Synopsis: “Swapping lives between a princess and a peasant. Ace rep and f/f romance! Also, not going to lie that sharing the same name as one of the MCs (Emilie/Emily) is an influencing factor in being excited for this one. Is it just me, or are Emilys in media often sapphic? 💁🏻♀️
Synopsis: “Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.
Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.
Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.
But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.”
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