In this article, Emma will be exploring some of the best fantasy books by black authors.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This novel is set in a world where magic has been forbidden, and the main character, Zélie, must fight against a ruthless king to restore magic to her people. With a vividly imagined world, complex characters, and themes of oppression and power, “Children of Blood and Bone” has quickly become a favorite of fantasy fans.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel, “The Fifth Season” is the first book in Jemisin’s “Broken Earth” trilogy. Set in a world plagued by natural disasters and an oppressive caste system, the novel follows three women with the power to control the earth as they navigate the intricacies of a dying world. With stunning world-building, complex characters, and intricate storytelling, “The Fifth Season” is a must-read for any fantasy fan.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
This debut novel takes place in a world where girls are bled to determine whether they possess the powers of a demon. When Deka is discovered to be a demon, she must join an army of other girls like her to fight against their oppressors. With themes of identity, power, and sisterhood, “The Gilded Ones” is a powerful and immersive read.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
This novella follows the eponymous Binti, a young girl from the Himba tribe of Earth who is accepted into a prestigious intergalactic university. When her ship is attacked by an alien race, Binti must use her wits and her unique abilities to survive. With a strong protagonist, imaginative world-building, and themes of identity and belonging, “Binti” is a standout work of science fiction/fantasy.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
In this West African-inspired fantasy, a princess named Karina must kill a boy named Malik in order to resurrect her mother, while Malik must win a competition to become the kingdom’s champion and save his sister’s life. With a gripping plot, lush world-building, and complex characters, “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin” is a standout debut.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
In this Afrofuturistic fantasy, a young girl named Tarisai is raised in isolation by a mysterious and powerful woman known as The Lady. When The Lady sends Tarisai to compete for a place on the Crown Prince’s council, Tarisai must navigate court politics and a dangerous magical curse. With a unique magic system, compelling characters, and themes of loyalty and betrayal, “Raybearer” is a thrilling read.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
This novella imagines a world in which the descendants of African slaves who were thrown overboard during the transatlantic slave trade have evolved to live underwater. When the protagonist, Yetu, is tasked with leading her people’s annual ritual of remembering their painful past, she begins to question her role and her identity. With beautiful writing, thought-provoking themes, and a haunting atmosphere, “The Deep” is a powerful work of fantasy.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
This middle-grade novel follows a Nigerian-American girl named Sunny who discovers that she has magical abilities and must learn to navigate the world of the Leopard People, a society of magical practitioners. With a relatable protagonist, rich cultural details, and a thrilling plot, “Akata Witch” is a delightful read for all ages.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
In this alternate history novel set during the Civil War, the dead begin to rise from the battlefield as zombies. The protagonist, Jane, is a Black girl trained as a zombie fighter in a government school for Black and Indigenous children. With a fast-paced plot, strong characters, and social commentary on race and power, “Dread Nation” is a genre-bending work of historical fiction and horror.