Sometimes, you just want an evening curled up on the sofa with a great book and a cup of hot chocolate. Now that “cozy fantasy” are the coolest buzzwords in publishing (Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes just won the Hugo Award), there are so many options for readers to choose from, especially if you’re fond of slice-of-life stories in a fantasy or science fiction setting with diverse protagonists and a heartwarming friendship/romance.
Of course, feel-good escapist narratives with queer protagonists may not always reflect the real world, where marginalized folks have to fight for their fundamental rights. But it's important to imagine happier, better and more sustainable futures, and promote more queer voices in publishing that showcase a variety of perspectives and lived experiences.
Below is a list of cozy speculative fiction books with queer characters that you can check out!
10 of Our Favorite Cozy LGBTQ+ SFF Reads
A Marvellous Light
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske is set in an alternate Edwardian England with plenty of magic, hedge mazes, and a murder mystery thrown in. And did I mention that it has gay magicians?
Thanks to a clerical error, the naive and non-magical Robin Blyth discovers a secret magical society and ends up assisting the barely-magical Edward Courcey and the duo fall head over heels in love. If you’re in the mood for something sweet and steamy, A Marvellous Light won’t disappoint.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
I always recommend this novel to my friends as "a book that feels like the warmest hug”. It tells the story of 40-year-old Linus Baker who has a boring bureaucratic job until one day he is tasked with a classified assignment—visit and report on the well-being of magical children in an island orphanage. Linus soon discovers a wealth of eccentric secrets and must decide between doing the safe thing or the right thing. If you’re in the mood for a story with found family elements and a satisfying slow-burn gay romance, you should pick up this book ASAP.
Legends and Lattes
For all those of you who read/write coffeeshop alternate universe fanfics, I have the book for you. Legends & Lattes tells the story of Viv, a battle-weary orc barbarian who wants to settle down and run her own coffeeshop. Of course, she’s going to run into a few difficulties, but she’ll also make some lovely friends along the way. It’s a heartwarming novel that celebrates the simple joys of sharing food, warm conversations and a supportive community.
If science fiction is more your jam, you’ll definitely love the hilarious and fast-paced romp through spacetime called Chilling Effect. A space opera of sorts, this debut novel by Valerie Valdes focuses on Captain Eva Innocente whose sister is kidnapped, and now she and her crew must travel across the galaxy to rescue the sibling. Cue psychic cats, funky aliens, hijinks and plenty of pop culture references. Gloriously queer and unabashedly funny, Chilling Effect is a very entertaining ride.
Black Water Sister
Black Water Sister is a lovely urban fantasy novel by Malaysian writer, Zen Cho. It tells the story of Jessamyn Teoh, a closeted lesbian who starts hearing voices in her head—actually, the voice of her dead grandmother, to be precise, who has a score to settle with a gang boss. Soon, Jessamyn finds herself pulled into a feud involving gods, gangsters, ghosts, and disgruntled family members.
Like Black Water Sister, Cemetery Boys also deals with ghosts, hauntings, and the struggle to get your family to accept you as you are. Yadriel is a 16-year-old Latinx trans boy who performs an occult ritual and ends up summoning the ghost of Julian Diaz who is determined to tie up some loose ends. Needless to say, the summoner soon falls for the ghost and shenanigans ensue. Cute, heartfelt, and filled with tender moments, Cemetery Boys is sure to stay with you awhile.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built
If you’re in the mood for a quiet and lovely queer novella in the science fiction genre that can be finished in one or two sittings, you’ll love A Psalm for the Wild-Built as well as the A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, the two published books in her Monk and Robot series. Both are philosophical, hopeful, gentle, and perfect for a cozy evening read.
The Cybernetic Tea Shop
While queer romances are great, there’s still not enough stories representing the experiences of those on the aromantic or asexual spectrum. Which makes The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz such a special comfort read for those looking for an asexual love story. Clara is a technician who never sticks in one place for long, while Sal is a sapient robot running an old tea shop falling into decay. When Clara walks into the tea shop, she has no idea that her life is about to change or that she’s going to meet someone incredibly special. A sweet, fuzzy romance.
Miles Singer is haunted by memories of war and works as a doctor in a veteran’s hospital while trying to hide his magical skills. But when one of his patients is poisoned, he has to work with an exceedingly handsome stranger to solve the murder mystery. Similar to A Marvellous Light, C.L. Polk’s Witchmark is set in a world inspired by Edwardian England where the nobility use their magical powers to control international politics, and features a cute and charming romance that is sure to make your heart swoon.
Can't Spell Treason Without Tea
You usually can’t go wrong with a love story set in a bookshop, so it’s probably a safe bet to say that you’ll enjoy Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea by Rebecca Thorne. It unfolds the story of Reyna and Kianthe who want to open an aesthetic bookshop with pretty plants, cozy lights and also serves tea, of course. But leaving a high-risk job and disappearing to a small town is never easy, even if your girlfriend is cool with the plan. If you’re in the mood for a cozy mystery with a cup of tea, don’t forget to pick up this one!