Enchanted Cultural Fantasy Picks by Spellbinding Black Female Writers

Let’s dive into new worlds of epic adventure and thrilling magical delights with this week’s Three to Read highlighting Black Female Fantasy writers.

Diversity Fantasy Recommendations Three To Read
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The fantasy genre is saturated with white male writers, a platform that has been the obsession of many a reader. But it’s not just the Tolkeins and the Sandersons of the world-building and immersive genre that reign supreme. Thankfully, the second half of the 20th century saw captivating fantasy stories by Octavia E Butler and others that led the way to a more inclusive and diverse reading selection. Let’s take a look at three of these writers and their tales that bring Black culture and characters to the forefront of fantasy.

Hot Pick

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayrom

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, books cover of a black woman in a botanical paradise.
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Summary

A Secret Garden retelling with a contemporary fantasy twist, This Poison Heart is the first book in a series about a girl who must conquer her botanical magic. Briseis’ magic is untamed and wild. When her aunt lies and leaves a tumbledown estate in her name, Briseis and her moms are hopeful that the time spent there will help her gain control of her magic. Unfortunately, danger and darkness surround her as surprises lurk behind the generosity of her inheritance. The garden that came with the estate is filled with the exotic, deadly, and benign. But it isn’t just Briseis and her mom whose interest is captivated in the botanical wonderland.

Why

Bayron’s sapphic retelling is not only a change in the direction of time and character but also a representation of culture, race, and gender fluidity. Inside the pages of this spellbinding YA novel, you’ll read about a girl intent on conquering her magic, the love of queer parents, and the awareness of identity.

Coffee Shop

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton, book cover depicting three teen students in their uniforms with magic surrounding them
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Summary

Admitted to Arcanum Training Institute a prestigious magical academy set in the clouds, eleven-year-old Ella has a brand of magic, unlike anyone who came before her. This makes her both a pariah to some and an anomaly to others to keep their eye on. Befriending a teacher and two other outcast students, she dips her toes in the Marvellian world learning about her magic and those around her. When trouble comes to the academy in the form of a news announcement for an escaped prisoner, Ace of Anarchy, Ella is thrust into the middle of the investigation as her rare magic was used in his escape. When her field, Masterji Thakur, the elixir’s teacher, goes missing, Ella and her friends race to save him and her family name.

Why

Magic school. Global inclusion. Fantasy adventure. What more could you want in a middle-grade book set on teaching the burgeoning adolescent readers about diversity and inclusion? Clayton meticulously put together a magical escape for teens that reflects the interconnectedness of diverse cultural commonalities. Add in some mystery and espionage, and it’s the whole package.

Dark Horse

The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport

The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport, book cover depicting a woman with blood magic weapons and a sword in front of buildings.
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Summary

Hellbent on avenging the assassination of her beloved grandfather, Ikenna does the only thing she can to find the conspirators and eliminate them: she enlists in the Praetorian Trials. Trials in which less than a quarter of the participants survive. But she has an ace in her pocket. Her late grandfather fostered, in secret, Ikenna’s training in combat and blood magic. Against racism and misogyny, Ikenna risks everything to murder those who took the one person most precious to her.

Why

The Blood Trials is an enthralling mix of science fiction and fantasy. Davenport’s heroine is hypnotizing in her fierce pledge. Her tale is one of cultural and gender oppression rising beyond and above the social pigeonholes that were thrust upon her. Not only is she greater than any stereotype laid on her race, but she’ll outwit and outfight the men around her. If you’re looking for a fearsome female lead, action, magic, and adventure, this book is for you.


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