I do so love it when I find a book that just hits right.
1. The Unspoken Name, A.K. Larkwood
A new take on high epic fantasy, The Unspoken Name is a riveting adventure.
Lesbian romance. Epic adventures. Grand world-building. Mercenaries. Necromancy. Sacrifice. Abandonment.
It's beautifully written. The audio book is well narrated. I can't say enough good things about A.K. Larkwood's novel.
An orc woman runs from her past. She wants more than to throw her life away in a pointless sacrifice to a brutal god. The entire book follows her as she desperately seeks love and acceptance from a father figure of rather gray character.
The plot is gorgeously nuanced. The romance is well-developed and believable. If high-fantasy colored with elements of horror is your thing, give this one a go.
2. The Unbroken, C.L. Clark
Colonialism and revolution, this book caught my attention from the get go.
Touraine, a conscripted soldier whose only loyalty is to her unit, finds herself in an unusual situation as a personal guard to the heir to the throne, Luca.
Luca's only goal is to do what she must to prove to her cruel uncle, currently ruling as regent, that she is ready to take the throne that is rightfully hers.
Feelings bloom. Things get complicated. Betrayal, sacrifice. It will keep you riveted, tear your heart out, and have you feral for the next installment in the trilogy.
Seriously. I need it. I NEED to know what happens.
3. Gearbreakers, Zoe Hana Mikuta
More sci-fi than fantasy, Gearbreakers delivers some bad ass teens in a dystopian world.
Godolia maintains a tyrannical rule via its windups, aka god-sized robots piloted by tech-enhanced young adults who have been trained in hand-to-hand combat since childhood.
Eris is a Gearbreaker, a member of the rebellion that specializes in taking down windups from the inside out.
Sona is a Windup Pilot with an axe to grind against Godolia herself. When the girls meet, sparks fly and they join forces to take down Godolia tyranny together.
It's a fast-paced science fiction story with a cliffhanger ending. A bit hamfisted at times, I enjoyed the tale and am looking forward to Godslayer's release in 2022.
4. The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri
Another gorgeously written book. Tasha Suri drops you into a world full of political intrigue, vibrant settings, and rich culture and worldbuilding. Plus, it has a magic system to die for.
The book explores what it means to be monstrous. It follows a former priestess who possesses inhuman power and a princess who has to make monstrous decisions to overthrow a cruel brother from his throne.
There's a lot of meat to this book. The relationships between ALL the characters are carefully developed. The motivations behind each character are compelling.
And the romance between our heroines is a delicious slow burn. Another cliff hanger, I was ready for book number two yesterday. *Whispers* Write faster, Tasha.
5. The Bone Shard Daughter, Andrea Stewart
This story is told from several perspectives. Set in a world where God-like beings once held the earth in a chaotic rule, the Bone Shard Emperor's line is the only thing keeping these creatures from returning. Fans of Gideon the Ninth will love this story.
The Bone Shard Emperor's daughter, Lin is missing crucial memories and seeks to uncover her father's secrets so she can rise to claim her throne.
Jovis, a smuggler, just wants to find his wife, taken from him years before in the night with no warning.
The wlw love comes in the form of Phalue, a governor’s daughter, and Ranami, a member of the resistance. We're dropped in the middle of an already established relationship. The conflict between them arises due to their differing political beliefs. It's refreshing to see a lesbian relationship portrayed as an incidental. It's love and commitment shown in all of its complexity. Very well done.
6. She Who Became the Sun, Shelley Parker Chan
There is so much to say about this novel, but I'm not sure I can do it justice. It is rather more historical fiction than fantasy fiction, but it was one of my very favorites so I had to include it.
The base of the story of She Who Became the Sun is the reimagining story of the founding Emperor of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols and unified China.
A peasant girl who made a decision early in her life to never become nothing, takes on her dead brother's identity and his foretold great destiny as her own and forges a path without fear. We follow her journey as Zhu Chongba and her rise to power.
*MINOR SPOILER AHEAD*
Zhu's character is foiled fantastically with Ouyang, a eunuch general of the Great Yuan army. Zhu slowly accepts her identify and fate as her own. By the end of the first book, she's found love and brotherhood. She loves herself and her body, despite the complex relationship between her assumed male identity and her female body.
This book. I thought about it for DAYS, WEEKS, after I finished it. I cannot recommend it enough. It's. so. good.
I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! Happy reading!