Need a break from the real world of 2020? Me, too. Personally, I've been leaning into fantasy to help me escape. Featuring fantastical worlds and far-off adventures, these books have given me the beautiful gift of helping block out the constant anxiety and lift me up at a time when I need it most.
Luckily, there's a wide range of contemporary Black authors writing exceptional fantasy and sci-fi. These nine books by Black fantasy authors are getting me through 2020.
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Black Leopard, Red Wolf
One of the most highly anticipated releases of last year, Black Leopard, Red Wolf was listed as one of the top ten books of 2019 by The Washington Post.
The first in a planned trilogy, the novel follows Tracker, a mercenary who is on the hunt for a missing child with a band of characters, including the shape-shifter Leopard. Michael B. Jordan, who played Killmonger in Black Panther, has already teamed up with Warner Bros. for a movie adaptation of Black Leopard, Red Wolf.
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Children of Blood and Bone
I am obsessed with this series, and I can’t wait for the third title in Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone trilogy.
The series follows Zélie as she discovers her long-lost magical powers and fights to restore magic to the land of Orïsha.
Another novel with a film adaptation on the way (this one for Fox/Disney), Children of Blood and Bone is an inspiring and captivating read.
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A Song Below Water
What I would’ve given for a book like this in my teen years!
This debut novel is a story of Black mermaids living in secret in Portland, Oregon. Yes, Black mermaids!
Mixing a modern-day high school story with fantasy, this brand new release is a must-read and will fill your day-dreams with wonder.
If you need more convincing, our friends at Den Of Geek even named A Song Below Water one of the top new YA books in July 2020.
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The City We Became
Already hailed as a “glorious fantasy” by Neil Gaiman, The City We Became by multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winner N.K. Jemisin is an imaginative love-letter to New York City that will fill you with hope.
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2020 Hugo Award finalist The Deep follows an underwater society inhabited by the descendants of African women who were thrown overboard during the slave trade.
The Deep was written by Rivers Solomon and based on a song by the rap group, Clipping, which includes Hamilton star Daveed Diggs.
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Rage of Dragons
Another impeccable debut fantasy novel, Rage of Dragons is as epic and addictive as A Song of Ice and Fire.
For centuries, the Omehi people have been locked in an un-winnable war. The lucky few among them survive through rare skills: the ability to call on dragons, and the capability to transform into a powerful machine.
Tau has neither of these powers, but plans for a life that's not defined by war. When he's betrayed and loses those closest to him, Tau commits the rest of his life to ending the ceaseless cycle of violence.
A modern-day fairy tale, Gingerbread has been hailed as “exhilarating” and is a lush, perfect summer read. The story follows the Lees, a remarkable family that appears normal at first glance—but their exceptional gingerbread isn't the only remarkable aspect of the Lee clan.
Pick up Gingerbread and prepare to be sucked into Helen Oyeyemi’s incredibly rich and beautiful world.
Black Girl Unlimited
My whole life I’ve loved stories of witches and wizards, and Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown follows a teen wizard — also named Echo Brown — finding her way in a modern-day city.
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The Gilded Ones
Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones won't hit shelves until February 2021, but it deserves a special mention here.
What’s the early buzz for? This first book in the Deathless series is already being compared to Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther, and follows 16-year-old Deka on her journey to becoming a warrior.