Genre: YA Horror
Queer Rep: Bi/Pan, Lesbian (maybe)
Warnings: Body Horror, graphic violence, gore, depictions of panic attacks
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
Lord of the Flies x Annihilation x Holy Shit Dude
I was still deep in my cave of F/F thirst when I decided to pick this up, drawn to the promise of horror with an all-female cast. The first paragraph enchanted me, and just like that I was in, diving headfirst into this haunting world full of nature that wasn’t quite natural, and girls with teeth and grit for days.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Queer Rep: Lesbian
Warnings: Off page sexual assault and discussions of sexual assault, violence
Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
My thirst for fantasy remained high while perusing the shelves of Barnes and Noble, and my thirst for F/F even higher. When I found this gem—with a gorgeous cover and POC protagonist—it was love at first sight. Lucky for me, this rich, intricately woven world and believable characters made sure the love remained until the very last page.
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Queer Rep: Demisexual, Pansexual
Warnings: bullying, depictions of anxiety, mentions of transphobia, explicit sexual content
[Note: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.]
When Lander accepts a dare to go into the forest at night, he thinks it’ll be easy. He just needs to walk in and then come out, right? But that’s easier said than done. It’s like the trees have a mind of their own, and they are stopping him from finding his way back. There were always stories of people getting lost forever in the forest, but Lander had never considered they might be true.
Yban has been in the forest a long time and he knows it like no other—but he comes with his own secrets. He disappears every day, and he won’t tell Lander where he goes. But during the dark hours, Lander gets to know him and starts unwrapping the layers that surround him.
The fire that keeps them warm in the forest isn’t the only spark between them; will their growing relationship survive Lander’s determination to find the way out, or will Yban’s past mistakes keep them hidden in the forest forever?
This one was really difficult for me to rate. For the longest time, I didn’t rate it. This book, more than most, feels very much like a pure difference in stylistic taste. The tl;dr of this review is: The narrative style of this novella was not for me, but if you like the premise and the excerpt available on the publisher’s website, you will probably enjoy it very much.
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Queer Rep: Bisexual, Gay
Warnings: Memories of/references to homophobia
Ostracized by his family for his sexual identity, Prince Stephan is forced to flee his homeland before his older brother ascends the throne.
Stephan has been drawn to feminine things for as long as he can remember, so when the dire need for secrecy arises, he seizes the chance to don the perfect disguise. With the help of his loyal servant, Stephan picks his way through hostile territory, hiding his identity by posing as a woman. His only hope for asylum lies with the man who had been his friend and lover three years ago. But when that man also happens to be the crown prince of a rival country, things are a bit more complicated.
With war looming on the horizon, the danger of discovery grows by the moment. With all odds stacked against him, will Stephan find a safe place where he can be his true self, or is he doomed to remain a castaway?
I have been thirsty for fantasy lately, and this novella called to me from the internet. Pretty writing? Check. Decadent descriptions of palaces? Check. An undercover prince attempting to reunite with his past lover? CHECK. And of course, there’s a ball.