Monthly Roundup: What I Read in April 2022 (Part 1, Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy)

Almost every book I've read had explicitly queer characters or themes, though they aren't all speculative fiction. I’ve sorted books book by order I read them in - and hey, maybe your next read isn’t speculative fiction.

This is every book that I read in April 2022! Almost every book I've read had explicitly queer characters or themes. Since I read so many books in April, I split this into two newsletters.  Part 1 is Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and Part 2 will be everything else! You can expect Part 2 tomorrow.

I’ve sorted books book by order I read them in - and hey, maybe your next read isn’t speculative fiction. These reviews don’t contain content warnings or representation notes; please check those at a site that provides a robust content warning tool.

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Genre: LGBTQIA+ Science Fantasy
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Buy if you loved Gideon the Ninth and can’t wait to see what happens next; Borrow if you enjoyed it but a more experimental nature seems off-putting.

As a sequel to the extremely popular Gideon the Ninth, Harrow the Ninth was an odd experience. Harrow has lost or altered her memories of what happened in the First House, and scenes come up that contradict the events of the first book. The story is disorienting, especially as the reader needs to work to interpret what's really going on. It builds up to a dramatic finale and a twist that made me want to reread the book immediately. However, if the ending hadn’t been so good, I would’ve felt like it was a waste of time. The destination was more enjoyable than the journey.

The River has Teeth by Erica Waters

Genre: LGBTQIA+ YA Contemporary Fantasy
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Borrow

Della’s family has lived on the Bend for generations and the land gives them their magic. However, the Bend’s magic has been running wild for months, and girls have been going missing. When Natasha’s sister becomes one of these missing girls, Della and Natasha are pushed together for the investigation. A light enemies-to-lovers plotline emerges between the two of them, as Della worries that solving the mystery will put her family in harm’s way. Feminist witchy vibes for a mystery novel with southern folk magic roots.

All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

Genre: Science Fiction
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Borrow

I’ve sometimes seen the Murderbot Diaries recommended in queer book circles because its protagonist, the titular Murderbot, doesn’t have a canonical gender. While I haven’t read the later novellas to see if it comes later, the story is really much more about non-humans navigating human spaces. Murderbot is assigned security detail on an archaeological mission, which is normally a formality required for insurance purposes. However, the mission goes wrong, so Murderbot has to stop watching telenovelas and instead focus on the survival of its crew. Thriller vibes with a protagonist that really doesn’t want to talk about feelings.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Skip

I had high hopes for this novel because it was sold to me as quintessential dark academia read. The main character is bisexual and the cast of characters is purposefully racially diverse, which addresses some of my issues with dark academia as an aesthetic. I even enjoyed the first third of the book, as the world-building was rich and I felt immersed in a secretive college in the Pennsylvanian woods. However, that is all the book has to offer. Yes, there’s a plot and mysterious happenings, but they never quite make it on screen. Maybe pick this up if dark academia is really your jam and you’re okay with a book that doesn’t really go anywhere, but I’d otherwise skip it.

Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin with Jamal Campbell

Genre: Sci-Fi Graphic Novel
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Buy

N.K. Jemisin’s 12-issue run of Green Lantern grapples with the first murder on a planet in 500 years. You can read my full review here!

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Buy

I was passingly aware of Iron Widow both because of the author’s celebrity (they made a throne of books and then sold the ones they sat on) and its “why not both?” approach to love triangles. What I hadn’t been told was that it was about mechs! And I love mechs! The full review is coming next week.

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Available at Bookshop.org*
Recommendation: Borrow

This book feels a lot like Tea Dragon Society, both in terms of art style and storyline. It’s about a 12-year-old girl who feels like her friends are growing up and leaving her behind. She’s still interested in cryptids, ghosts and other goth items… and ends up befriending the ghost that lives in her house. It’s a very sweet book about growing up and there’s a lot that I still relate to as an adult on the ace spectrum - and there are hints that the main character is bisexual. It is a little wordy compared to most graphic novels, but I personally enjoyed that aspect.

Bonus Reading

Strength of Thousands Adventure Path

Available on Bookshop.Org*

I never know how to incorporate my tabletop game reading into my trackers. I don’t really want to log every book of an adventure path, since I’m not reading them in the same way I read prose. This month, I read most of the Strength of Thousands Adventure Path as I’m preparing to run it! It’s a magical school adventure set in the afrofantasy part of Pathfinder’s Golarion setting, where the players are a set of students at the world’s oldest magical academy. It’s filled with fantastic NPCs and fun encounters (including multiple canonical queer characters, of course). Definitely consider running this if you’re looking for a Pathfinder 2E campaign! (Please note that I have a professional relationship with Paizo and consider many of the adventure path authors to be friends).

Next Week's Review: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao


*Transgenre Books is a Bookshop Affiliate, which is an online book marketplace that supports independent bookstores with profit sharing. If you make a purchase through a link to Bookshop.org, I earn approximately 10% in commission. Choosing to buy via my affiliate link helps keep this site free and running, but I also strongly support use of your local library and used bookstores.

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