As a queer and nonbinary reader, I tend to devour fantasy that uplifts and celebrates LGBTQ+ identities. Since quarantine began, I’ve found it harder to focus on reading, but this summer I finally discovered the joys of novellas! Longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel, the novella hits the sweet spot for my quarantine-shortened attention span. I’m excited to share some of my favorite queer fantasy novellas I’ve been reading the past few months:
- The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho – Zen Cho is my go-to for cozy, feel-good fantasy. In her latest novella – which she’s dubbed as “tropical wuxia” – a nun joins a group of bandits on a quest to protect a sacred relic. If you’re a sucker for stories about found family, this scrappy gang of bandits is sure to find a special place in your heart.
- Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey – I’m a firm believer that we all need more queer, dystopian Westerns in our lives. This pulpy, escapist novella features a band of rogue librarians sticking it to fascism – and finding their place in the world along the way.
- The Deep by Rivers Solomon – The history behind this novella is just as rich as the story itself. Inspired by the clipping. song of the same name (which, in turn, was inspired by Detroit electronic duo Drexciya), Solomon tells the story of the pregnant African women thrown from slave ships and the lives their children lead in the deep waters of the ocean. This is a heart-wrenching story about the dual pain and necessity of preserving cultural history, and the long journey towards love and healing.
- The Black Tides of Heaven/The Red Threads of Fortune by Neon Yang – Like the magical twins at the heart of this series, the Tensorate novellas come in twos (and can be read in any order!). There’s so much to love about this series, but the rich and imaginative worldbuilding is what strikes me every time I read it. From the elemental magic of slackcraft to the deft handling of gender identity, this is a world you’ll want to revisit again and again.
- The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg – This lyrical novella tells the tale of two trans elders on their intertwined journeys towards self-discovery. Come for the beautiful descriptions of magical carpet-weaving and song, and stay for the profoundly moving character arcs. This equally heart-breaking and joyous story will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
Emory Noakes (she/they) is a library worker, writer, and wannabe-gardener living in Columbus, Ohio. She completed her MA in Shakespeare studies at King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe in 2016, where she researched trans and nonbinary adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. In her free time she runs a local writing group, binge-watches anime, and plays way too much Animal Crossing. She has poetry at Strange Horizons and various publications, and tweets at @emorynoakes.