Women’s Day brings a great opportunity to celebrate books by women, especially when one remembers how historic women authors had to use male pseudonyms to protect themselves from censorship, prejudice, and the common misconception of having written something less important than the male authors. Women of color had to deal with additional judgements or an inevitable lingual gap that didn’t allow their stories to reach farther. No wonder it seems like a dream to see BIPOC women authors adorning bookshelves, particularly in genres whose more mainstream readership holds a clear bias: SFF. Of course, there’s still not enough focus on non-Western female voices but this list doesn’t do justice to the wider diversity either so I must not digress. Anyway, today brings the perfect time to highlight some of these titles. From sprawling epic fantasy to high-stakes sci-fi and from plain horror to mind-blowing speculative fiction, here are forty SFF books by women of color you must read this year!

That Self-Same Metal by Brittany N. Williams

Swashbuckling, romantic, and full of the sights and sounds of Shakespeare’s London, this is a stunning YA fantasy debut about a Black girl (and sword expert) fighting a Fae uprising. Buy now!

My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix by Kalynn Bayron

In this gothic YA remix of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, a teen boy tries to discover the reason behind his best friend’s disappearance—and the arrival of a mysterious and magnetic stranger—in misty Victorian London. Buy now!

Lucha of the Night Forest by Tehlor Kay Mejia

An edge-of-your-seat fantasy about a girl who will do anything to protect her sister–even if it means striking a dangerous bargain. Dark forces, forgotten magic, and a heart-stopping queer romance make this young adult novel a must-read. Buy now!

Funeral Songs for Dying Girls by Cherie Dimaline

After inadvertently starting rumors of a haunted cemetery, a teen befriends a ghost in this novel exploring Indigenous identity, life, love, and death. Buy now!

Harvest House by Cynthia Leitich Smith

In this thrilling cross-genre follow-up to Hearts Unbroken, a mysterious man is hunting teenage girls and the rumours of an “Indian maiden” haunting has made a roadside Halloween attraction popular. Buy now!

Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed

A debut graphic novel that imagines a fantastical alternate Cairo where wishes really do come true. The title is a fairy tale rhyme that means “your wish is my command” in Arabic—is the story of three people who are navigating a world where wishes are literally for sale. Buy now!

Sea Change by Gina Chung

An enchanting novel about Ro, a woman tossed overboard by heartbreak and loss, who has to find her way back to stable shores with the help of a giant Pacific octopus at the mall aquarium where she works. Buy now!

The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro

A woman is haunted by the Mexican folk demon La Llorona —a ghostly vision: the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown— in this ravishing and provocative literary horror novel about motherhood, family legacy, and self-discovery.. Buy now!

The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa

A diverse, exciting debut space opera about a young tea expert who is taken as a political prisoner and recruited to spy on government officials—a role that may empower her to win back her nation’s independence. Buy now!

The Battle Drum : A Novel by Saara El-Arifi

Three women seek the truth of the empire’s past. And the truth they find has the power to ignite a war in the sequel to The Final Strife, the continuation of a visionary fantasy trilogy inspired by Africa and Arabia.Buy now!

A Shadow Crown by Melissa Blair

A tour-de-force sequel to A Broken Blade —a dark fantasy about a colonial world in which Halflings are torn from their families and placed in servitude— with stunning world building, a slow burn enemies to lovers romance, and a diverse cast of characters.. Buy now!

The Whole Animal by Corinna Chong

A refreshingly original debut collection of short stories that grapple with the self-alienation and self-discovery that make us human, and explore bodies both human and animal through flawed characters.. Buy now!

The Hundred Loves of Juliet by Evelyn Skye

A woman fleeing her disastrous marriage discovers that she is part of a legendary love story that spans lives, years, and continents in this modern-day reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. Buy now!

Forged by Blood by Ehigbor Okosun

An action-packed, poignant duology inspired by Nigerian mythology—full of magic and emotion—in which a young woman fights to survive a tyrannical society, having everything stripped away from her, and seeks vengeance for her mother’s murder and the spilled blood of her people. Buy now!

Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

An epic fantasy debut, inspired by Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, is a fiery collision of power plays, spilled blood, and romance amidst a set of deadly games —where a princess in hiding and an exiled aristocrat must play a deadly game. Buy now!

The Blood Gift by N. E. Davenport

A stunning conclusion to the fast-paced, action-packed sci-fantasy duology where an elite warrior and her rogue cohort must outrun bounty hunters, their former comrades, and a megalomaniacal demi-god, to save everyone from the racist and misogynistic oppression that threatens the continents from all sides. Buy now!

The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao

In the living cities of a jungle-planet where float the last refuges of humanity, a thorny marriage of a mystical architect and a wife desperate for change face deadly truths while cataclysmic storms and devastating magic threaten their civilization. Buy now!

Chrysalis by Anuja Varghese

Drawing on folklore, fairy tale, and magical realism, this is a collection of genre-blending stories of transformation and belonging that centre women of color and explore queerness, family, and community. Buy now!

Drinking from Graveyard Wells by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu

A collection of short stories grounded in truth and empathy, boldly exploring the erasure of African women while highlighting their beauty and limitless magic, all against the textured backdrop of Zimbabwe. Buy now!

Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

Twin sisters on a run: one in search of a fabled treasure, the other searching for the truth of behind her origin. A realm of fae filled with secrets and a heist for a mystery legacy, along with an autistic representation, this fantasy is about sisterhood. Buy now!

The Ten Percent Thief by Lavanya Lakshminarayan

A collection of interconnected short stories with recurring characters that are bold and satirical, featuring a dystopian city run along run along ‘meritocratic’ lines, the injustice it creates, and the revolution that will destroy it. Buy now!

The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz

In a lush world inspired by the history and folklore of South America, a sweeping epic fantasy of colonialism, ancient magic, and two young women’s quest for belonging unfolds. Buy now!

Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz

In this fantasy debut with a time-loop twist, a provincial girl must work with a roguish prince to stop an attack on the royal family and escape a nightmarish curse that forces them to relive the same night again and again. Buy now!

The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang

Inspired by a classic of martial arts literature, this queer epic fantasy has bandits of devastating ruthlessness, unseemly femininity, dangerous philosophies, and ungovernable gender who are ready to make history—or tear it apart. Buy now!

The Heavenly Sword by Alice Poon

Set in a world of human conflicts, fantastical martial arts, sorcery and celestial magic, this debut fantasy follows a martial maiden’s heartbreaking adventures in her quest for love and justice. Buy now!

Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee

A young woman —whose family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother— forms a temptestuous bond with a gigantic and deadly bird of prey in this epic fantasy fable about the pursuit of obsession at all costs. Buy now!

The Daughters of Izdihar by Hadeer Elsbai

Set wholly in a new world, but inspired by modern Egyptian history, this debut fantasy follows two young women—a spoiled aristocrat used to getting what she wants and a poor bookshop worker used to having nothing—who find they have far more in common, particularly in their struggle for the rights of women and their ability to fight for it with forbidden elemental magic. Buy now!

Meru by S.B. Divya

One woman and her pilot are about to change the future of the species in an epic space opera about aspiration, compassion, and redemption in a world where human life has been restricted to Earth and posthuman descendants freely explore the galaexy. Buy now!

The Last Tale of the Flower by Roshani Chokshi

A sumptuous, gothic-infused story about a marriage that is unraveled by dark secrets, a friendship cursed to end in tragedy, and the danger of believing in fairy tales —a spellbinding and darkly romantic page-turner. Buy now!

The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem

In this Egyptian-inspired debut fantasy, a fugitive queen strikes a deadly bargain with her greatest enemy and finds herself embroiled in a complex game that could resurrect her scorched kingdom or leave it in ashes forever. Buy now!

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

A young, indigenous woman enters a colonizer-run dragon academy after bonding with a hatchling—and quickly finds herself at odds with the “approved” way of doing things—in the first book of a brilliant new fantasy series. Buy now!

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A fabulous meld of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism: a dark thriller about a curse that haunts a legendary lost film–and awakens one woman’s hidden powers. Buy now!

The Phoenix King by Aparna Verma

In a kingdom where flames hold magic and the desert hides secrets, an ancient prophecy comes for an assassin, a princess, and a king. But none are ready to face destiny—and the choices they make could burn the world. Buy now!

Sing Me to Sleep by Gabi Burton

In this dark, seductive YA fantasy debut, a siren —who is a soldier and an assassin— in hiding must choose between protecting her family and following her heart. Buy now!

The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores

A queer Rapunzel retelling where a witch and a vampire who trust no one but themselves must journey together through a cursed forest with danger at every turn. Buy now!

The Midnight Kingdom by Tara Sim

In the second installment of Dark Gods trilogy, each heir walks a dangerous path, attempting to undo the damage the gods have wrought across the four realms. But they live on borrowed time. The divine will have their war—and not all of them will survive it. Buy now!

Blood Over Bright Haven by M.L. Wang

A standalone dark academia brimming with mystery, tragedy, and the damning echoes of the past, featuring an ambitious mage, a nomadic hunter, and an ancient secret. Buy now!

She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

A house with a terrifying appetite haunts a broken family in Vietnam in this atmospheric horror, featuring a ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves cryptic warnings: don’t eat. Buy now!

These Infinite Threads by Tahereh Mafi

The second book in an epic, romantic fantasy trilogy based on Persian folklore The Shahnameh, follows a prophetic heir to the Jinn throne and a heir to the human throne as they fall in love. Buy now!

One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

An intricate web of love, magic, and rival witch families who fight to maintain control of their respective criminal empires in New York City. Buy now!

which of these books are you most excited to read? 💛


This list is primarily curated on the basis of the author(s) identifying as a woman but there’s always a scope of error when it comes to putting together a list. To be very clear, this list is not meant to gatekeep authors or their work, neither does it mean to force an identity on any of the authors. If an author doesn’t wish to be included in this list, please contact me and I’ll definitely accommodate your request. If a reader has any corrections to suggest, I’d be happy to double check and make appropriate changes.

This post has been edited on March 10th, 2023 to correct an error of misidentifying two authors of color by withdrawing their titles from the list.

6 replies on “International Women’s Day — 40 SFF Books By Women Of Color To Read This Year

  1. great intention list but you might want to double check if people identify as women. a couple of the authors here do not and at least one has spoken up about being put in IWD lists pretty much every year.


    1. Hi! I think I’ve definitely tried my best to see if the authors identify as a woman but I’m always happy to correct my blog posts. If you’d kindly point out the authors you’re talking about, I would love to double-check and make changes, thanks 💛


      1. Ah, I should’ve definitely checked more than once! I’ll make sure to remove those titles and include two written by authors of color who identify as women. Thanks 💛

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, wow thank you! I’ve been a bit disconnected from publishing – all publishing – recently and the number of books I kept track of is very poor. I’ll definitely go check many of the titles here, especially The Whole Animal


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