This was such a difficult list to put together, because it is definitely not meant to be a list of all the good sapphic books coming out from July to December of 2023. These are just the 10 upcoming releases at the very top of my TBR. I also tried to select a range of genres, so you can find your next preorder!
The trouble with upcoming queer books is that I only have incomplete information, and the further out you look, the more limited it is. Trying to keep up with all the LGBTQ+ new releases would be a full-time job, and I’m sure I’d still miss a lot!
Nonetheless, even though this isn’t a complete list, it is a pretty great one. I’ve got a mix of YA, middle grade, and adult titles—and a surprising amount of fantasy and horror books, since they’re not usually my go-to genres. There are some of my favourite authors here, along with quite a few that are new to me.
That’s enough preamble! Let’s get ready to preorder!
Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle (Horror) (July 11)
Yes, that Chuck Tingle, author of Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt and so, so, so many others! This is Tingle’s Tor debut, and it looks to be a very different tone than his tongue-in-cheek romance/erotica ebooks.
Camp Damascus is in the mountains of Neverton, Montana, and it claims to be the most effective gay conversion camp in the country. It follow Rose, an autistic Christian woman who is trying to fight the feelings she has for her female friend. Then, of course, there’s the little matter of the demon woman she keeps seeing. And that’s just the beginning of the strange things happening to her.
This looks like an unsettling story of religious trauma, and what more horrific setting is there than a gay conversion camp? N.K. Jemisin calls this a “genuinely terrifying nightmare.”
The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley (YA Fantasy) (July 18)
I really enjoyed Tooley’s sapphic YA fantasy novel Sweet & Bitter Magic, so I’m looking forward to this new sapphic YA fantasy from her!
Elodie is a princess who has been trained to be queen her whole life—but then a third daughter, Brianne, is born to Elodie’s mother, a third daughter herself. Brianne has been prophesied as the return of the revered New Maiden. But Elodie is suspicious of the church’s motives, as well as Brianne’s ability to rule at 13, so she comes up with a plan to take the throne herself. She approaches the Apothecary Sabine for a sleeping potion, but Sabine accidentally gives her something much stronger. Now Sabine and Elodie have to work together to save Brianne from a never-ending slumber. And, of course, there’s a slow-burn romance developing between Sabine and Elodie, too!
Damned If You Do by Alex Brown (YA Horror-Comedy) (August 1)
This is described as “Queer Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Filipino folklore in this horror comedy about a high school stage manager who accidentally sells her soul to a demon,” and personally, I’m sold.
High school is hell, and Cordelia just found out her guidance counselor, Fred, is a demon. Apparently, she made a deal with him to have her abusive father disappear, and then to forget she did it. Now Fred has a new bargain: help him to “neutralize” a rival demon and she’ll get her soul back—or refuse, and have to spend eternity with her father in hell. Suddenly, the hopeless crush she has on her best friend Veronica doesn’t seem like the biggest problem in her life.
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The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet by Jake Maia Arlow (Middle Grade Contemporary)
From the author of How to Excavate a Heart and Almost Flying, this a story about a queer middle schooler with a chronic illness who learns to find her community and accept even the messiest parts of herself.
Al is keeping a lot of secrets. Like that she has crushes on girls. And that her stomach never stops hurting. No one wants to hear about your bathroom problems, right? When she gets diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, though, it feels like everything anyone wants to talk to her about, to her embarrassment.
The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang (Fantasy) (August 22)
I thought S.L. Huang’s queer reverse “The Little Mermaid” retelling, The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist, was fascinating, so I’m excited to dive into another queer fantasy from her!
Lin Chong does weapon training with the emperors’ soldiers, keeping her head down in an environment that devalues her for her gender. Then, one powerful man upends her life, destroying everything she worked for. On the run, she joins the Bandits of Liangshan, a cutthroat group that defends the downtrodden. The Publishers Weekly review calls this a “wuxia eat-the-rich tale.” Yes, please!
Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue (Historical Fiction) (August 29)
Emma Donoghue is one of my favourite authors of all time—even though I own an embarrassing amount of unread books by her. This one shot to the top of my TBR. It’s a historical fiction novel following the now famous Anne Lister during her time at a boarding school in York in 1805. There, she meets Eliza Raine, an orphan who was banished from India to England when she was six. The two 14-year-olds “fall secretly, deeply, and dangerously in love.”
I really enjoyed reading Inseparable by Emma Donoghue, which is a history of lesbian literature, so I know this will be extremely well-researched, especially since there is so much of Anne Lister’s writing to draw from!
Cooking With Monsters: A Beginner’s Guide to Culinary Combat by Jordan Alsaqa, illustrations by Vivian Truong (YA Fantasy Graphic Novel) (September 5)
If that title didn’t convince you, I don’t know what to tell you. This is giving me Space Battle Lunch Time vibes, and I’m so excited to pick it up.
Hana has just joined the Gourmand Academy of Culinary Combat, where you learn not only to fight monsters, but also to deliciously prepare them. How efficient! She’s having trouble keeping up, though, and she’s somehow already gained a rival in the form of another girl at school—and also a crush on said rival. Somebody put this in my hands already!
Monstrous by Jessica Lewis (YA Fantasy) (September 12)
Latavia is spending the summer with her aunt, and okay, yes, the town is a little creepy. But there’s also that cute girl working at the ice cream shop, so it’s not all bad.
Things get significantly worse when Latavia is dragged into the woods to be sacrificed to the monster there. What the townspeople weren’t expecting, though, was for her to make a deal with the monster to get revenge. She will stop at nothing to keep herself safe, even if it means endangering the town, her crush—and her family.
Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends and Lattes Prequel) by Travis Baldree (Cozy Fantasy) (November 7)
Cozy fantasy is the hot new genre, and I am 100% on board. I absolutely loved Legends & Lattes, so of course I’m going to be picking up the prequel—which is set at a bookshop!!
This follows Viv before she started the coffee shop. She’s recuperating from an injury in the sleepy town of Murk, passing time at the local bookshop. But it won’t be as boring as she expected: adventure seems to have followed her there after all, not to mention the possibility of a summer fling.
Also, look at that owl/pug on the cover! So cute!
Gwen and Art Are Not In Love by Lex Croucher (YA Fantasy) (November 28)
Queer Arthuriana is a whole subgenre, and this looks like a very exciting new entry. It’s being pitched as “Heartstopper meets A Knight’s Tale.” Arthur, descended from King Arthur, has been betrothed to princess Gwendoline from birth, even though they hate each other.
As they are forced to spend time together, they soon find they have something in common: they’re both queer. They decide to set their animosity aside to cover for each other, as Art follows for Gwen’s brother and Gwen falls for her Lady Knight.
Which sapphic new releases out in the rest of 2023 are you most excited to pick up?