It can be sad when Pride winds down once again, but luckily there are plenty of amazing queer books yet to come out in 2021. Here are some of the upcoming releases we’re most excited about!
To the black girls in the back row at live shows, to the queer girls still figuring it out, to the Midwestern kids who have yet to find a home in their bodies—it’s time to press play on our happy endings.
RISE TO THE SUN: Four days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival. pic.twitter.com/H1dARxU7B5
— Leah says preorder RISE TO THE SUN ☀️ (@byleahjohnson) February 4, 2020
Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
Toni is grieving her father’s death and desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic with a broken heart (again). The two come together at the Farmland Music Festival and bond instantly. But when tragedy strikes, the two find they need each other, and music, more than they could ever imagine.
Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil
Keil’s second novel mashes Greek myths and Grimm fairy tales in ’90s Portland in this story of siblings Iph and Orr. The two are torn apart when their father sends Orr to boarding school to “toughen him up.” Iph tracks him down with the help of George, a mysterious teen living on their own with their dog and their bike.
However, Orr has already escaped the camp and fallen in with the Furies, an all-girl punk band who take him into their home. For the first time, the siblings lead separate lives, and they must figure out whether they’re better together after all.
What We Devour by Linsey Miller
Lorena lives a quiet life, keeping her powers a secret and planning to marry her best friend. When the crown prince arrests her future father-in-law, he discovers her abilities and forces her to serve him in his battle against the Vile. As Lorena learns about the horrifying price it takes to keep the darkness at bay, she’ll have to embrace the power she’s kept hidden for so long.
Like Miller’s other work, What We Devour features some great ace and non-binary representation. She’s a recent but strong voice in queer books, especially in YA.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
In a world where people have what they want, does having more matter? Sibling Dex is a tea monk serving the God of Small Comforts. They’re traveling in the wilderness to seek meaning when they come across Splendid Speckled Mosscap, a member of a robot community that hasn’t been seen for centuries. Mosscap is in search of what humans feel they need to survive.
This is a gentle, wholesome novella — similar to Chambers’ other work — that makes you think while still helping to take you out of your head for a while.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
Not only is Jake Livingston gay and one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep; he can also see dead people. He’s mostly able to keep to himself until Sawyer, a school shooter with unfinished business, starts haunting him. Sawyer has plans for his afterlife, plans that involve Jake. As bodies pile up, all the rules Jake knows about ghosts and life itself go out the window, and high school becomes a true game of survival.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
When a young girl’s destined-for-greatness brother dies, she takes his place. Using his identity to enter a monastery, she’s determined to do whatever it takes to escape her fate of nothingness, no matter how cold or calculating she must become.
She Who Became the Sun has been on everyone’s list of upcoming queer books for months. This debut has two storylines, each featuring a genderqueer protagonist. It’s a character-driven story about people trying to create their own fate in a society that sees them as less than others. Also, it will probably make you cry.
The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters
When Natasha’s sister Rochelle goes missing and the case goes cold, she turns to Della, a local witch. Della’s family provides spells for the desperate, and she knows it will take something major to help Natasha. She also thinks she knows who’s responsible for taking Rochelle: Della’s monstrous mother.
The River Has Teeth is a suspenseful and hypnotic read — perfect for fans of horror and Southern gothic.
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
It’s time for another ghost story! In The Dead and the Dark, Logan moves to Snakebite, Oregon with her TV-star ghost-hunting dads. Teenagers are going missing, and Logan teams up with a girl named Ashley to find her boyfriend. Their investigation quickly reveals hidden truths about their families, the town of Snakebite and the girls themselves that they might not be ready for.
A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
When Felicity returns to the Dalloway School after the death of her girlfriend and four other students, rumors of witchcraft surround her. She’s determined to leave it all behind her, but writing prodigy Ellis Haley’s arrival on campus to research her next novel pulls Felicity right back in. As the two research Dalloway’s past, history repeats itself and Felicity must confront everything she has feared.
This is another one of 2021’s new queer books that’s been on everyone’s list for a while. It has all of the sapphic dark academia vibes you’ve been craving, and the description reminds me a lot of 2020’s Plain Bad Heroines.
Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas
Finch wants to become the first trans congressman, and he knows that winning the National Speech and Debate Tournament would be a huge step in the right direction. The only problems? His huge crush on his debate partner, and the topic itself: trans rights.
Kirkus Reviews described this debut as “emotionally charged and politically relevant, this is a must-read.”
In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu
Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with watching over the citizens of Ora through a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although æ can only see through the Gleaming, Anima is proud of the way æ protects Ora’s citizens. Everything changes when a visitor arrives in the city with a cabinet of curiosities and stories. Anima’s world expands to places æ never imagined, and æ begins to question ær entire purpose.
This is a rich and complex novella with multiple stories woven together in a small space. Lu blends technology and folktales while addressing everything from trans identities and generational trauma to corruption of power and environmentalism.
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw
I am so ready for this book! It features a crew of queer women criminals, a treasure hunt, a sentient spaceship and so much more. The crew reunites to rescue one of their members who might still be alive after their last failed mission. I’ve been waiting forever for The All-Consuming World and I’m counting down the days until release.
No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull
When Laina gets the news that the Boston police shot and killed her brother, she knows something isn’t right. What looks like just another case of police brutality turns out to be something much stranger. Monsters are real, and they are done hiding, but why did they choose now to come out of the dark?
No Gods, No Monsters has been one of my most anticipated queer books of 2021 and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl
When Elton turned Holly into a vampire in 1987, she thought they would be together forever. Then, he dumped her. Now she’s stuck as an eternal teen without any hope of growing up. Holly finds out, however, that she isn’t the first girl Elton did this to, and she and his other vampire exes are out for revenge.
This sounds like John Tucker Must Die with sapphic vampires and bad ’80s hair and I’m here for it. It’s a fresh and unique spin on familiar tropes, and basically the queer vampire novel you’ve always wanted.
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
This polyamorous sci-fi debut features Zetian, a pilot trying to avenge her sister’s death by teaming up with her copilot: the person who killed her. She gets her vengeance by killing him through the psychic link between pilots instead of allowing herself to be sacrificed as girls are supposed to.
Dubbed an “Iron Widow,” Zetian is paired with the strongest male pilot in an effort to tame her unnervingly powerful mental strength. In spite of those that try to keep her down, Zetian is going to smash the system from within.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
After his best friend Eddie dies, Andrew is left with a strange inheritance: a new home, friends he didn’t ask for and Eddie’s ghost. As Andrew tries to figure out what really happened to Eddie, he discovers how little he knew about the person he trusted the most. Summer Sons promises to be a genre-bending whirlwind of fantasy, horror, action and mystery all together in a coming-of-age story.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Shizuka Satomi has a deal with the devil. To avoid damnation, she must provide the souls of seven brilliant violinists. When she meets Katrina Nguyen, a trans runaway, she knows she’s found her final candidate. Katrina has an incredible musical gift but no formal training, and she’s happy to trade her soul for lessons and a safe place to stay.
While training Katrina, Shizuka meets and begins falling for Lan Tran, a former starship captain and current refugee. As their three lives intersect, the women face trauma and pain and learn what it means to care for someone unexpectedly.
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Becca feels like she doesn’t belong at her new, elite San Francisco school until the most popular girls take her in. They’re seemingly perfect, but at a party under a full moon, Becca learns their secret. The three girls are all werewolves, and they prey on skeevy boys.
When Becca allows her new friends to turn her into a werewolf, she finally feels like she belongs. But when police notice one of the pack’s kills, the girls begin to buckle under pressure and turn on one another.
Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s debut graphic novel is a feminist revenge tale about how tempting the idea of belonging can be and the mistakes people make in its pursuit. Get ready for a fun, haunting and fast-paced coming-of-age story.
A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
Nina is a Lipan girl searching for something more. Oli is a cottonmouth kid cast out of the land of spirits and monsters. Neither knows the other exists, but catastrophic events bring their worlds together in ways they never have before.
Darcie Little Badger is an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. Both of her novels feature asexual protagonists and incredible covers.
— Darcie Little Badger (@ShiningComic) April 30, 2021
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
In the much-awaited sequel to 2012’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, Dante and Ari must discover what it means to build a relationship in this challenging world. They depend on each other, and when Ari suffers a devastating loss, they must fight to find joy and love.
It’ll be nine years since Aristotle and Dante first came out, and five since Sáenz started writing the sequel. For a long time, the original was the quintessential queer book for the YA crowd, and it’s exciting to return to this story.
A Marvelous Light by Freya Marske
Robin Blyth struggles to be good enough: a good brother, employer and baronet. When an accident of bureaucracy sees him appointed as liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers there’s so much more to the world than he knew.
While contending with magic, curses and visions, Robin must also deal with his magical counterpart, Edwin Courcey. Thrown together, the two discover a plot that threatens magic in Britain and beyond. This magical Edwardian mystery features the perfect amount of magic, conspiracies, murder and romance.
This is just a taste of all the incredible queer books coming out in the rest of 2021. Lucky us, there will be many more! What are you most looking forward to? Let us know below!
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