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12 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books About Found Families

These reads show that family comes in all different forms. 

found families books

Family can be tricky, even under the best of circumstances. That's why the idea of finding people who feel like home but aren't biological family is so powerful. What could be more moving than choosing to love and protect someone, despite the obstacles the world puts in our way? That feeling is only doubled in speculative fiction, when found families must face down magic, alien invasions, and all sorts of impossible challenges. 

We explored sci-fi and fantasy books where the characters meet their found families despite all odds.

Our Favorite Found Families in SFF

Floating Hotel

Floating Hotel

By Curtis, Grace

Carl started as a stowaway of the Grand Abeona Hotel, which offers its high-paying guests a luxurious course through space to the best views in the galaxy. With time, however, Carl managed to find himself a proper role at the floating hotel as its manager, and he couldn't love it more. In fact, the Abeona is the only place Carl has ever called home, and the members of staff are like family. 

That isn't to say Carl understands every part of the spacecraft, however. Each guest keeps their secrets, and Carl remains ignorant of who's actually driving the ship. “Curtis has done it again,” says author Kate Dylan, "delivering a high stakes slice-of-life novel that’s bleeding with heart. The underbelly of the Abeona hotel may be rotting with secrets, but like the guests, you’ll be too dazzled by its effortless charm to notice.” 



By Alan Dean Foster

When an unknown evil threatens the entirety of the wizard’s world, Clothahump stretches the power of his sorcery to seek help from another dimension. He finds Jonathan Thomas Merriweather, a grad student and rock guitarist. Joining several others, Jon-Tom travels where no warm-blooded being has been before, to destroy the strange evil before it destroys them.

An unusual fellowship that turns the Chosen One trope on its head, Jon-Tom has to learn to navigate this new magical world and won’t survive without the help of his companions. The first in an eight-book series, Spellsinger is a fun, musical ride into another world.

the vanished birds

The Vanished Birds

By Simon Jimenez

This Locus finalist manages to combine the vastness of time and space with a deeply intimate story of found family. The Vanished Birds, which was the debut novel from Simon Jimenez, follows a millennia-old woman as she comes to care for a mysterious, mute child with great power. 

If you're looking for a book that combines epic, space-opera themes with a deft touch that will make you cry (in a good way), you can't go wrong with this one.

Calling on Dragons

Calling on Dragons

By Patricia C. Wrede

Just because Princess Cimorene is now Queen, doesn’t mean her life has gotten any easier. The wizards have returned and are threatening to destroy the Enchanted Forest––for good. She’ll need the help of a dragon king, two cats, a witch, a magician, and a flying donkey to have a chance at stopping them. 

The third book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Calling on Dragons is a fun adventure for readers of all ages. Queen Cimorene needs the help of all her friends and allies in this book, and though they experience a riot of hijinks together, the power of friendship is the real highlight of the story.

books like Mass Effect becky chambers long way to a small angry planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers

All Rosemary Harper wants is a warm bed, a chance to explore the galaxy, to forget her past, and be left alone. Joining the crew of the Wayfarer seems to offer all of that. But when the job of a lifetime turns into a deadly mission, Rosemary is sure she’s made a mistake. In order to survive, the crew will have to learn to work together and trust one another. Maybe family isn’t as bad as Rosemary thought...

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is all about the journey people go on to find those they can rely on and call family. This small, ragtag crew will wormhole their way into every reader’s heart.

The Spectral City

The Spectral City

By Leanna Renee Hieber

The Ghost Precinct is made up of psychics and spirits, and they’re tasked with one mission: justice in the beyond. Eve Whitby is head of this all-female department, and has saved many souls from being lost or damned. When a new enemy begins using experimental technology to banish ghosts forever, Eve is on the case. But the madman behind this devastation may turn her into a psychic weapon that can destroy everything.

More than a detective squad, The Ghost Precinct is a tight-knit family. They may have come together to fight paranormal crime, but they’re truly there for each other when it counts. While the content delves into dark magic and darker themes, the friendship and love these characters feel for each other adds much-needed brightness and hope.

Network Effect by Martha Wells

Network Effect

By Martha Wells

It’s been a long journey for Murderbot, and just when it thinks it can finally relax, mayhem erupts. When the humans who took Murderbot in are captured, it sets off to rescue them. But the closer Murderbot gets to rescue, the more humans are at risk. Once again, Murderbot has to put itself in peril in order to save the humans and bots it considers almost friends.

The journey from untrusting to sort of trusting to maybe friends is endearing, and while Murderbot wants us to believe it hates emotions, we can tell how much it cares based on its actions. The dry humor mixed with incredible action told through the eyes of a killer AI is a recipe for an incredibly unique book with enormous heart.

Morning Star

Morning Star

By Pierce Brown

In the third book in the Red Rising Saga, Morning Star takes the bonds that the Howlers have forged and tests them to the extreme. It’s an explosive ride filled with countless plot twists, but throughout it all, the misfit Golds prove that family is more than genetically-modified blood.

After watching them hang his wife, Darrow was remade a Gold. He survived their Institute. Climbed the ranks of their Society. And now is the time to tear their world apart. But honor and vengeance runs deep on both sides. To win, Darrow has to face enemies without mercy––some of them former friends––and inspire a galaxy of people to break their chains and live for more.

Empire of Light

Empire of Light

By Alex Harrow

As the Empire’s hired gun, it seems anyone Damian Nettoyer cares about is in jeopardy. The only reason he works for the Empire is to save his ragtag gang and his lover from extreme punishment. And now, a smooth-talking revolutionary has them in his sights. 

As Damian's relationship unravels, his attraction to the revolutionary grows––and the Empire notices. Damian is used to shooting first and asking questions never. But to save the man he loves; he’ll burn it all down.

A mercenary with a heart of gold may be a cliched trope, but Harrow manages to breathe life into it. Empire of Light is a non-stop action ride where the safety of the people Damien cares about is always the highest priority.



By A. G. Howard

In this retelling of The Princess and the Pea, Lyra is cast out of her kingdom by her wicked aunt. Rather than be raised in the castle, Lyra is taken in by a forest witch, who decides to disguise the princess as a boy called Stain. When an imposter princess seeks to take what ought to be Lyra's, the princess must find a way to throw off her disguise and make herself heard. The only problem? Lyra is unable to speak or even make a sound. 

Publishers Weekly called A. G. Howard's Stain "An emotionally complex tale of fate, inner beauty, and found family that illustrates the strength of love born from friendship.” 

tyrion lannister reading list

The Lies of Locke Lamora

By Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora learned how to survive at a young age. As an orphan, he became a thief in order to avoid death and slavery. Now, he’s leader of the infamous Gentleman Bastards. But when a nefarious powerplay threatens to destroy everything and everyone Locke cares about, he’ll do anything to beat them. Or die trying.

Filled with heists and con artists, The Lies of Locke Lamora is a flash-bang adventure. The characters truly are the heart of the story and every time they meet difficulties, their survival raises the stakes on their violent escapades to an intense degree.

American Hippo

American Hippo

By Sarah Gailey

An alternate history, American Hippo is set in a Louisiana Bayou overrun with feral hippos. In an effort to take it back, the government hires Winslow Houndstooth. He gathers a motley crew of assassins, outlaws, and cons to help him conquer this enormous task.

Brimming with genderqueer, body positive characters, American Hippo is an incredibly fun but violent jaunt into the wilds of an America that could have been. It’s filled with people we shouldn’t like but somehow do, and despite the odds, they find home amongst each other.

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