It’s been well established by now that diversity is extremely important in reading and publishing. Having diverse voices represented in all aspects of the industry is necessary to reflect the world we live in. One genre that has historically lacked diversity but has recently been improving is YA fantasy. As we at Ooligan prepare to publish our own YA fantasy novel, The Keepers of Aris, here’s a list of Black YA fantasy novels that I recommend in no particular order.
- A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
- The first in a fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore, this book follows a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee who find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.
- Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
- This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of FurybornandAn Ember in the Ashes.
- Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
- This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
- Legacy of Orïsha series by Tomi Adeyemi
- Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic before a ruthless king ordered all maji killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie fights to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy while struggling to control her powers—and her growing feelings for an enemy.
- Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
- Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata—a mermaid—collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable—she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.
- Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
- In this much-anticipated series opener, fate binds two Black teenagers together as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the ancient creature menacing their home—and discover much more than they bargained for.
- The Legendborn Cycle series by Tracy Deonn
- After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
- The Return of the Earth Mother series by Reni K. Amayo
- A gruesome war results in the old gods’ departure from Earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters Of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.
- The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
- Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity—and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
And don’t forget to check out The Keepers of Aris by Autumn Green this May 9, 2023!