The Ignyte Awards were established in 2020 by FIYAH Literary Magazine to promote diversity and inclusivity in the speculative fiction community.
The awards, which are announced annually at FIYAHCON, aim to uplift fiction, poetry, and non-fiction writers and critics from marginalized backgrounds and identities. 2022's nominees were announced in April, and winners will be revealed on September 17th.
The awards recognize novels across three different age brackets, in addition to honoring shorter fiction, poetry, and critics. In this list, we're highlighting the best-novel nominees only. Explore these diverse speculative fiction books that have been nominated for an Ignyte Award, and expand your reading list!
Nominees for the Ignyte Awards 2022
A Master of Djinn
Clark’s debut fantasy novel is set in 1912, in an alternate Cairo. Agent Fatma is called to investigate a serious murder charge. The murderer claims to be none other than the infamous Al-Jahiz, who disappeared 40 years prior after opening the veil between the two realms.
Black Water Sister
If you love contemporary urban fantasy, you’ll adore Malaysian writer Zen Cho’s mesmerizing novel Black Water Sister.
When Jessamyn Teoh moves back to her homeland, she begins to channel the spirit of her dead estranged grandmother, who has a grudge to settle with a gang boss.
Light from Uncommon Stars
To escape eternal doom, Shizuka Satomi makes a pact with the devil. She has to get seven talented violinists to offer up their souls in exchange for professional acclaim.
But when you make a deal with Satan, things are bound to go wrong….
Vern escapes the restrictive community where she was raised and hides out in the wilderness to raise her twins. But she's still pursued by members of her old compound, who refuse to let the new family go.
So, to protect her children, Vern must face her old community and the culture that spawned it.
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The Unbroken probes deep into the colonial history of North Africa, critiquing the violence of the empire while also highlighting a slow-paced sapphic romance between the soldier Touraine and the princess Luca.
Nominees for Best Novel: Young Adult 2022
A Snake Falls to Earth
A Snake Falls to Earth is a soft and heartwarming book that draws on Lipan Apache storytelling traditions.
The final book in Ifueko’s Raybearer duology, Redemptor quickly picks up the plot, continuing the thrilling story of Tarisai as she is forced to make several difficult choices for the betterment of her society.
The Wild Ones
In The Wild Ones, magical queer girls of Color unite to rescue a boy whose magic formerly saved them all. This book is the found family sisterhood you didn’t know you needed.
This Poison Heart
Bri is a young girl who has the special power of making plants grow. After her aunt dies, Bri inherits a new, sinister home in rural New York that comes with an apothecary and a secret walled garden filled with the most poisonous plants on the planet.
Bri's new home is full of magic—but her own abilities remain mysterious to her.
When teenager Marigold moves from California to the Midwest, she thinks she's left her ghosts behind. But, of course, the phantoms have followed her.
As per the blurb, this YA horror thriller is “The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out”.
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Nominees for Best in Middle Grade 2022
Amari and the Night Brothers
When Amari’s brother goes missing, she’s surprised that her locality isn’t more concerned. Then she discovers he has left her a briefcase that indicates the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs may be involved in his disappearance….
Josephine Against the Sea
Josephine has a habit of pushing away her Daddy’s new girlfriends—after all, none of them deserve him. The latest one, Mariss, might even be a sea monster.
Set in Barbados, Josephine Against the Sea is an adorable story inspired by Caribbean mythology.
Root Magic is a brave and richly-atmospheric ghost story set in 1963 in South Carolina.
It introduces young readers to the issues that Black Americans faced (and continue to face), while also paying homage to the history and culture of the Gullah people.
The Insiders is Mark Oshiro’s debut novel about fitting in and finding your people. This lovely and heartwarming book shows how a group of middle school “misfits” manage to create a better world for themselves.
Tristan Strong Keeps Punching
The final book in a delightful trilogy, Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia brings West African gods to life.
Infused with folklore and flawed characters, the book focuses on Black history, healing, and resilience.
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Nominees for the Ignyte Awards 2021
Rebecca Roanhorse burst onto the scene with her powerful short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™."
In Black Sun, Roanhorse explores Indigenous myths and traditions by envisioning what pre-Columbian American cultures might have looked like. This is epic fantasy at its finest, with lots of queer representation as well.
The City We Became
N.K. Jemisin set a new record when she became the first-ever writer to consecutively win three Hugo Awards for Best Novel, for her Broken Earth trilogy.
The City We Became is the first book in Jemisin's next series, the Great Cities duology.
The Midnight Bargain
C.L. Polk’s novel is a beautiful romantic fantasy delving into women’s lives.
Set in an alternate Regency England, the story follow Beatrice, who has to choose between following her dream of becoming a powerful sorceress, or securing a marriage to save her family from debt.
The Only Good Indians
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones explores Native American traditions and lifestyles through a contemporary lens.
If you’re looking for a tightly-woven horror novel about revenge and cultural identity that will keep you on the edge until the last page, check this one out.
Hao Jingfang became the first Chinese woman to ever win the Hugo Award for her novelette “Folding Beijing”.
Her debut novel Vagabonds, translated by the highly regarded Ken Liu, is set against the backdrop of a Civil War between Earth and Mars.
Nominees for Best Novel: Young Adult 2021
Elatsoe was listed as one of the Best 100 Fantasy Novels of All Time by TIME magazine.
It is a whimsical and charming story that recalls oral storytelling traditions and follows young Ellie as she investigates the death of her cousin.
Legendborn is a fiery, action-packed novel that features a plucky protagonist, demons, a secret society, and more.
With an incredibly unique take on Arthurian legends, Deonn’s book "braids together Southern folk traditions and Black Girl Magic" (Dhonielle Clayton).
Tarisai's life has been lonely. Raised in seclusion, she is sent to the capital city to compete with other children for a seat in the Crown Prince’s Council.
Raybearer is a stunning beginning to a series, with court intrigue, found family dynamics, and a diverse cast of relatable characters.
A Song Below Water
Tavia is a siren who must keep her magical identity hidden from society. Growing up in the city of Portland, Oregon, she often feels trapped and lonely, as there are few Black folks around—and even fewer with magical abilities.
But everything changes when Tavia's favorite Internet fashionista reveals herself to be a siren, too.
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A Sky Beyond the Storm
A Sky Beyond the Storm is the gut-wrenching finale to Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series.
If you love epic fantasy, love triangles, and gritty Hunger Games-level violence, you should binge-read these books.
Nominees for Best in Middle Grade 2021
Frightville: Curse of the Wish Eater
The Frightville books are written by Mike Ford and illustrated by Kevin Keele.
The small shop of Frightville is filled with all kinds of creepy and curious toys, and young David gets a set of teeth that can apparently grant any wish. But when he wishes away his siblings, can his command be reversed?
If you grew up reading Goosebumps, you’re sure to love this spooky series as well.
Lucely Luna is a happy-go-lucky 12-year-old who loves cats, old movies, and has the added power of being able to see the ghosts of ancestors. When Lucely and her best friend end up disturbing some malicious spirits, they must form a squad to save the town.
If you like paranormal stuff with a dash of wholesomeness and a Stranger Things vibe, you’ll love this book.
Maya and the Rising Dark
When 12-year-old Maya’s father goes missing, she must contend with the Orishas and stave off a war between this plane and the sinister Dark world, headed by the Lord of Shadows.
Rena Barron’s debut fantasy novel is an action-filled, kid-friendly book inspired by West African mythology.
Race to the Sun
Race to the Sun draws upon Navajo mythology and culture to tell a compelling story about seventh-graders taking on monsters and becoming heroes who save the day.
It’s an exciting adventure that also highlights the importance of family bonds and cultural traditions.
A Wish in the Dark
A Thai-inspired fantasy novel that’s also a retelling of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables for a middle-grade audience?
A Wish in the Dark is your wish come true.
Nominees for the Ignyte Awards 2020
The Dragon Republic
R.F. Kuang burst into the SFF scene with her grimdark novel The Poppy War, which features intricate worldbuilding, a unique magic system derived from martial arts techniques, and a protagonist who decides to get rid of her painful menstrual cramps as they interfere with her training and daily life.
The Dragon Republic is a thrilling sequel to The Poppy War that delves deeper into politics, war, and survival.
Gods of Jade and Shadow
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s prose is elegant and evocative, drawing you in from the very first page.
In Gods of Jade and Shadow, she explores Mayan mythology and family feuds in a scintillating romp through Mexico during the beginning of the Jazz Age.
Jade War is the critically-acclaimed sequel to Jade City. It follows the Kaul family as they're forced to forge new alliances and risk everything—including their honor—for the sake of survival.
Storm of Locusts
Another fantastic sequel on this list, Storm of Locusts pits “monsterslayer” Maggie Hoskie against a new and formidable villain in this post-apocalyptic urban fantasy series infused with Indigenous myth.
The Kingdom of Copper
The Kingdom of Copper is the second book in the celebrated The Daevabad Trilogy. Filled with djinns, assassins, and political intrigue, it makes for an enthralling read.
Nominees for Best Novel: Young Adult 2020
The children who grow up in the city of Lucille firmly believe that monsters do not exist.
But when Jam and her best friend encounter a creature who seems to have escaped from a canvas, they know it’s time to start questioning society’s denial.
The Everlasting Rose
Everlasting Rose is the much-anticipated sequel to Clayton’s dystopian romantic fantasy novel Belles.
Now Camille and her allies are in a race against time to rescue Princess Charlotte, defeat her nemesis Sophia, and bring peace back to Orleans.
Described as “Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give,” Slay is an intriguing book about a 17-year-old game developer protecting the gaming space from a troll, and building a safe and fun community for Black gamers.
Set in Nigeria in the wake of nuclear disasters and climate change, sisters Onyi and Ify dare to dream of a better life for themselves. This is a story about the “war girls."
The book delves into the Nigerian Civil War and sensitively tackles issues relating to gun violence, child soldiers, and war atrocities.
We Hunt the Flame
We Hunt the Flame is set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient Arabia. It tells the story of Zafira, who has to disguise herself as a man; and of Nasir, who must assassinate anyone who dares question the authority of the sultan, his father.
If you’re looking for an Asian fantasy novel with some romance and badass characters, this book is sure to keep you hooked.
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Nominees for Best in Middle Grade 2020
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
If you’ve ever wished for a middle grade book that had an American Gods vibe but with more West African mythology, then you need to add Kwame Mbalia’s ambitious fantasy trilogy to your bookshelf.
Just South of Home
For those who enjoy stories about family and friendship, then Just South of Home’s small-town setting, history lessons, and spooky vibes is sure to hit all the right notes.
The Mystwick School of Musicraft
Amelia Jones is determined to make it to the Mystwick School of Musicraft, but she’s having a tougher time than she expected.
We’ve all grown up with stories about kids going to boarding school to learn sorcery. But what about a special school for young and promising musicians to practice magic?
Other Words for Home
Jasmine Warga’s contemporary novel discusses the Syrian War, Islamophobia, and the immigrant experience.
When young Jude has to leave her family in Syria and go to live in Cincinnati, she isn’t prepared for the “Middle Eastern” stereotyping from her fellow Americans.
This is a coming-of-age novel about navigating cultural differences and finding your own place in the world.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
Sal has the power to rip holes in the fabric of the universe, but he’s having a hard time fitting in at the new school. His powers are noticed by Gali, the student council president and editor of the school paper.
The duo make an unlikely team, and their shenanigans will have you roaring with laughter.