Updated multicultural SFF booklist

ETA 5/22/12: I’m keeping this book list up to date on Pinterest nowadays, linking each book to its Goodreads entry. It’s much easier to just pin a book than to keep this list up to date. For the running lists (broken down by age group and genre) and more, go here (sorry, the link was broken for a while there):


ETA: I’ve finally gotten the ability to edit the post back, so I’ve put as many of the suggested books into the list now as I can. Suggestions always still welcome. This is a continuous project.

I’ve gotten a lot of great suggestions to add to the list, but my website seems to still be broken, and my own computer has a dead motherboard (well, it did when I started writing this last week—thankfully, it’s now fixed). I’m still figuring out why WordPress won’t let me edit any of my old content.

So, in the interest of having one place that people can use as a resource, I’m going to copy everything into this entry. Rather than divide the list by what I’ve read and what I haven’t, which was just more a personal exercise last year in wondering whether my own reading habits had reached past my own culture, I’ll divide the list by age group and genre (fantasy/SF). What that means is that I am not making a comment on how good I think a book is or recommending it/not recommending it—there are several books on this list I haven’t had a chance to read yet. It’s simply a list compiling what’s out there. I’ve also added books that I’ve discovered over the last year or that have been suggested to me in the comments. Go to the previous booklist post for comments on some of the books in this list.

Middle Grade Fantasy

  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, 2009, Grace Lin
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, 2008, Nahoko Uehashi, and its sequel, Moribito II
  • City of Fire, Laurence Yep
  • The Tiger’s Apprentice, Laurence Yep
  • Dragon of the Lost Sea, Laurence Yep (and pretty much anything else written by Laurence Yep)
  • Zahrah the Windseeker, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Chronus Chronicles, Anne Ursu (someone mentioned this and I haven’t read them—are the main characters people of color or is it set in a non-Western culture? from its Amazon listing, it seems to star a white girl and use Greek mythology, which are great, but don’t fit the definition we’re using here)
  • The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan
  • Sword and Wandering Warrior, Da Chen
  • The Conch Bearer, Chitra B. Divakaruni
  • Circle of Magic quartet, Tamora Pierce
  • Circle Opens series, Tamora Pierce
  • Pendragon series (?)
  • Un Lun Dun, China Mieville
  • Lavender-Green Magic, by Andre Norton
  • Dragon Keeper and Garden of the Purple Dragon, Carole Wilkinson
  • Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja, Simon Higgins
  • The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle, Deva Fagan
  • Magic Carpet, Scott Christian Sava
  • Marvelous World #01: The Marvelous Effect, Troy Cle
  • Ninth Ward, Jewel Parker Rhodes

Middle Grade Science Fiction

  • The Animorphs series
  • The True Meaning of Smekday, Adam Rex

Young Adult Fantasy

  • Wildwood Dancing, Juliet Marillier
  • Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
  • Flora Segunda, Isabeau S. Wilce, and its sequel Flora’s Dare
  • Little Sister, Kara Dalkey, and a sequel for which I’ve forgotten the name
  • Magic or Madness, and its sequels, Justine Larbalestier
  • Eternal, Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Tantalize, Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Sucks to Be Me, Kimberly Pauley
  • Silver Phoenix, Cindy Pon
  • How to Ditch Your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier
  • Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey
  • A Wish after Midnight, Zetta Elliott
  • The Black Canary, Jane Louise Curry
  • The Secrets of Jin-Shei, Alma Alexander (older YA and up)
  • The Worldweavers Trilogy, Alma Alexander
  • The Will of the Empress, Tamora Pierce and its sequels
  • Libyrinth, Pearl North
  • Across the Nightingale Floor and its sequels, Lian Hearn (older YA)
  • Devil’s Kiss, Sarwat Chadda
  • Annals of the Western Shore series, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Two Pearls of Wisdom (or Dragoneye Reborn as it’s known in the US), Alison Goodman
  • City of the Beasts, Isabel Allende
  • Blood Ninja, Nick Lake
  • Magic under Glass, Jaqueline Dolamore
  • Stormwitch, Susan Vaught
  • 47, Walter Mosley
  • Pemba’s Song, Marilyn Nelson and Tonya C. Hegamin
  • Rogelia’s House of Magic, Jamie Martinez Wood
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
  • The Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi
  • Invisible Touch, Kelly Parra
  • Soul Enchilada, David Macinnis Gill
  • Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, Alison Goodman
  • The Comet’s Curse: A Galahad Book, Dom Testa
  • Bleeding Violet, Dia Reeves
  • Liar, Justine Larbalestier
  • Meridian, Amber Kizer
  • Ruined, Paula Morris

Young Adult Science Fiction

  • The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, Nancy Farmer
  • The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
  • A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Leguin
  • The Shadow Speaker, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Extras, Scott Westerfeld
  • Black Hole Sun, David Macinnis Gill

Unsure of whether these books are MG or YA (have not read yet, pulled titles from Shweta Narayan and The Happy Nappy Bookseller‘s lists. Can someone give me a head’s-up what categories they fit in?

  • A Posse of Princesses Sherwood Smith. (Is this YA?)
  • The Dragon Keeper, Carole Wilkinson
  • A Girl Named Disaster, Nancy Farmer
  • The Wizard series, Diane Duane
  • The Green Boy, Susan Cooper
  • The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl, Virginia Hamilton
  • Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed, Virginia Hamilton
  • The Night Wanderer, Drew Hayden Taylor
  • Dread Locks (Dark Fusion), Neal Shusterman

Please feel free to continue to leave other suggestions in the comments.

15 thoughts on “Updated multicultural SFF booklist

  1. Stormwitch and 47 are both YA. I would also add MOONSHADOW: RISE OF THE NINJA to MG fantasy, and BETWIXT by Tara Bray Smith to YA fantasy.

  2. Thanks, Alvina. I couldn’t remember if Moonshadow has fantasy elements or not–I’ve only gotten a few chapters in and keep forgetting to go back to it (despite the Moonshadow earworms!). I didn’t know Betwixt would fit–thanks!

  3. I’m curious how Betwixt fits as well as Sucks to Be Me? Not challenging or anything, just curious. Thank you for this list Stacy. It reminded me of how few sci fi/fatnasy books I’ve reviewed. Maybe I’ll dedicate August to reviewing these books…

    Rogelia’s House of Magic deals with magic and curanderas so I guess it’s fantasy, just not in the witches/wizards HP sense. Pemba’s Song deals with a ghost so it’s paranormal? Both are YA along with Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which is definitely fantasy (so good!). Invisible Touch is YA and I think Icarus Girl is adult with a teenage protagonist. Hope this helps!

  4. Thanks, Ari. I should have mentioned that I kept everything from the original list, including books with ambiguous characters written by POC. That’s how Sucks to Be Me fits. I’m not sure how Betwixt does (haven’t read it yet)–Alvina, can you answer that?

  5. And now WordPress won’t let me edit *THIS* entry. Argh. I need to tinker with the site and figure out what’s broken. I can’t even go in and add a “booklists” tag, which I forgot.

  6. I’d add Soul Enchilada under YA Fantasy – a demon comes to repossess the car and possibly the soul of a mixed Latina/black girl.

    Also YA Fantasy is Eon: Dragoneye Reborn dragon fantasy set in a fantasy world based on Imperial China.

    Melting Stones is another Tamora Pierce, from the POV of an Asian-analog character. MG/YA fantasy.

    1. I thought I put Melting Stones on the list, at least as a part of all the Circle books. I usually only listed first books in series with a “and their sequels” if there’s more than 1 sequel. And how did I miss Eon: Dragoneye Reborn? I thought I’d put it on the list, but somehow it didn’t make it here. And now I can’t edit the entry!

  7. Yeah, I do see the entry for the Circle serieses (I really want a better plural for series), so I’ll consider Melting Stones covered. But boooo, not being able to edit the post!

    1. Rosemary, I followed your link, and I can’t see why it would qualify for this list of books featuring main characters of color or set in non-Western European settings. A white girl going to visit Ireland is kind of the definition of what’s not on this list. The point is to highlight books that don’t fit that mold.

  8. Marvelous World by Cle is MG, Comet’s Curse is YA Pendragon is in the right spot.

    For YA fantasy there is also,
    Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
    Liar by Justine Larbalestier
    Meridian by Amber Kizer
    Ruined by Paula Morris

    In Meridian the lead male protagonist is Cuban, also the background characters are also pretty diverse

    In Ruined the ghost is Haitian.

    For MG fantasy what about Jewell Parker Rhodes, MG debut Ninth Ward. Its set during hurricane Katrina. Its hasn’t been released yet and I haven’t good a chance to look at it yet but magic realism is included in the description from booklist via amazon

  9. I thought Liar was straight realism. I’ll have to take another look at it. And I can’t believe I forgot Bleeding Violet! I’ve been meaning to pick that one up.

  10. Bleeding Violet is soooo good. I loved it. Nice and crazy. Google reviews of Liar. Its what everyone can’t say (for fear of ruining it for the next reader) that makes it fantasy.

    This is a great list. Sadly its not that long but its longer than I thought it would be. Many of the books on here are excellent. I would rather have a shorter list with higher quality than a longer list filled with so so books.

    I know some would disagree perfering to simply see diversity, but if its not good I won’t read or suggest it.

  11. I promise I didn’t forgot any more (at least I hope not)

    The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle by Deva Fagan – MG

    Magic Carpet by Scott Christian Sava – I stumbled upon this one awhile back . It doesn’t come out until December.

Comments are closed.