The books on this page feature LGBTQ main characters. They may also be found on the other pages by race/ethnicity or in Everybody Else.
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Karen Memory (Ages 15+)
"You ain't gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. 'Hôtel' has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me."
"Set in the late nineteenth century-in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground-when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house-a resourceful group-and the poor and the powerful of the town.
"Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap-a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
"Hard on the heels of that horrifying discovery comes a lawman who has been chasing this killer for months. Marshal Bass Reeves is closing in on his man, and he's not about to reject any help he can get, even if it comes from girl who works in the Hôtel Mon Cheri.
"Elizabeth Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the Old Steampunk West with a light touch in Karen's own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science in Karen Memory."
A fun romp but parents, it does feature a whorehouse, alternative lifestyles and a same-sex relationship. Nothing that I would consider explicit.
Zelde M'Tana (Ages 18+)
This book features a Black female protagonist of African heritage. A Wild Child, she’s captured and sent off world as a slave, destined as a pleasure woman on another planet. The ship’s crew rebels and heads off into distant space. Zelde, a resourceful and extremely intelligent young woman, participates in the rebellion and works her way up the ship’s ranks. This story is the prequel to the Rissa Kerguelen trilogy.
Not suitable for young teens, there are very mature scenes of sex and violence in the book. There are also same-sex relationships.
The Rissa Kerguelen Trilogy – See the "Everybody Else" page
Friday (Ages 16+)
Genetically-enhanced Friday is a courier for the Boss in a chaotic world of corporations, small countries in what used to the be the United States and corruption. Until something goes wrong with her last job and her life is ripped apart. Despite the book cover, Friday is clearly described as being of mixed race with brown skin and she discovers, as her group family breaks apart, that her darker skin was of concern to at least one member of the family. It's one of the few Heinlein books that has a female main character that isn't too horribly written, although I think the end is definitely weak and could've been much better. Female characters were not his strength, he was definitely a man of his era.
Descriptions of genetically-enhanced humans, a rape, group marriages, non-descriptive sex and same-sex relationships may be disturbing to parents and teens.
Juniper Leaves: The Otherworldly Tale of a Lonesome Magical Girl (Ages 13+)
"Kinky-haired blerd Juniper Bray used to believe in magic, until she lost her best friend: her grandmother. Now this 15-year-old shy girl is headed to her father’s research trip on a farm hundreds of miles away, with a family she barely knows and the opposite of a best friend, her new arch nemesis, Bree Mckinney. As if she wasn’t miserable enough. Little does she know the next few months Juniper will discover magical powers she never knew she had, get a crush on a girl she never knew she’d like and well, quite frankly, save the world. Juniper Leaves is a fantastical coming-of-age tale of a girl who learns to let go, live a little, and best of all, believe in herself — all before her sixteenth birthday."
This fantasy story features a black queer protagonist who is obsessed with science. The author describes her as nerdy 15-year-old. Highly recommended.
The Last Faoii (Ages 16+)
"The faoii have protected Clearwall for generations. With militaristic order and stalwart discipline, these women have reigned in prosperity. But when her monastery is attacked and her sisters slaughtered, only young Kaiya-faoii is left alive.
"Forced to cope without the long-standing traditions of her Order, Kaiya travels the country on a mission to avenge her sisters and preserve what is left of her heritage. The search brings her not only to dark discoveries and ancient family secrets, but to something she never wanted or dreamed of: a brother she never knew she had.
"Forced into a war at the heart of a broken empire, the siblings must evaluate the true meanings of enemy, betrayal and freedom―and the gray areas surrounding each. Kaiya slowly learns the true state of the world outside her monastery’s walls, the dangers of the poisonous army that is slowly covering the land, and of her own innate abilities gifted by the Goddess."
Note: Parents should be aware of violence and some language. Some of the battle scenes are dark.
Everfair (Ages 16+)
"From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo.
"What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier?
"Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's 'owner,' King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.
"Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history."
While I would normally place a book with a mixed cast of characters on the "Mixed" page, this alternate history is focused in Africa and thus I feel it belongs on the "Black" page. Note to parents: there are dark and mature themes and same-sex relationships.