Updated: Jun 8
To celebrate Pride Month I've compiled a MEGA LIST of reads written by and featuring the rainbow community from Australia and New Zealand. From epic to opera, steampunk to cyberpunk, browse this collection to find your next read!
Note: this list is live and I will periodically add to it as new titles become available.
To help navigate this list, I've tagged each book with appropriate tags to its genre/sub genre. Simply search this blog using one of the tags below to find books that fall under its category.
Fantasy tags: dark fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy, epic fantasy, portal fantasy, high fantasy, YA fantasy, science-fantasy, steampunk, paranormal, mythology.
Science fiction tags: YA sci-fi, soft sci-fi, space opera, superhero, futuristic, time travel, alternate history, dystopia, cyberpunk, science-fantasy, space exploration.
Horror tags: horror, gothic, paranormal.
Other tags: historic, mystery, crime, detective, romance, retelling, short story collection, novella, web comic.
No Man’s Land – A.J. Fitzwater (NZ)
Tags: contemporary fantasy, historic
No Man’s Land is a historical fantasy and a love story set in the golden plains of North Otago, in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Dorothea ‘Tea’ Gray joins the Land Service and is sent to work on a remote farm, one of many young women left to fill the empty shoes left by fathers and brothers serving in the Second World War.
But Tea finds more than hard work and hot sun in the dusty North Otago nowhere—she finds a magic inside herself she never could have imagined, a way to save her brother in a distant land she never thought she could reach, and a love she never knew existed.
Inspired by feminist and LGBTQ+ history and family memories of North Otago in wartime, A.J Fitzwater has turned a piece of forgotten women’s history into a tapestry of furious pride and love that crosses cultures, countries and decades.
The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper — AJ Fitzwater (NZ)
Tags: short story collection
Dapper. Lesbian. Capybara. Pirate.
Cinrak the Dapper is a keeper of secrets, a righter of wrongs, the saltiest capybara on the sea and a rider of both falling stars and a great glass whale. Join her, her beloveds, the rat Queen Orvilia and the marmot diva Loquolchi, lead soprano of the Theatre Rat-oyal, her loyal cabin kit, Benj the chinchilla, and Agnes, last of the great krakens, as they hunt for treasures of all kinds and find adventures beyond their wildest dreams.
Let Sir Julius Vogel Award-winning storyteller A.J. Fitzwater take you on a glorious journey about finding yourself, discovering true love and found family, and exploring the greatest secrets of the deep. Also, dapperness.
The Dark Tide — Alicia Jasinska (AU)
Tags: YA fantasy, dark fantasy
Every year on St. Walpurga's Eve, Caldella's Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.
Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen's attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice.
Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won't make the same mistake. She's willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.
When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas's freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other as water floods Caldella's streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice.
The Midnight Girls — Alicia Jasinska (AU)
Tags: horror, dark fantasy, YA fantasy
The Wicked Deep meets House of Salt and Sorrows in this new standalone YA fantasy set in a snow-cloaked kingdom where witches are burned, and two enchantresses secretly compete for the heart of a prince, only to discover that they might be falling for each other.
It's Karnawał season in the snow-cloaked Kingdom of Lechija, and from now until midnight when the church bells ring an end to Devil's Tuesday time will be marked with wintry balls and glittery disguises, cavalcades of nightly torch-lit "kuligi" sleigh-parties.
Unbeknownst to the oblivious merrymakers, two monsters join the fun, descending upon the royal city of Warszów in the guise of two innocent girls. Newfound friends and polar opposites, Zosia and Marynka seem destined to have a friendship that's stronger even than magic. But that's put to the test when they realize they both have their sights set on Lechija's pure-hearted prince. A pure heart contains immeasurable power and Marynka plans to bring the prince's back to her grandmother in order to prove herself. While Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.
When neither will sacrifice their ambitions for the other, the festivities spiral into a wild contest with both girls vying to keep the hapless prince out of the other's wicked grasp. But this isn't some remote forest village, where a hint of stray magic might go unnoticed, Warszów is the icy capital of a kingdom that enjoys watching monsters burn, and if Zosia and Marynka's innocent disguises continue to slip, their escalating rivalry might cost them not just the love they might have for each other, but both their lives.
We All Fall — Helen Vivien (NZ)
Tags: horror, paranormal
Myra fell from the trapeze, and then she fell in love. Which one will hurt her the most?
Something is not right at the circus. Since Myra’s accident, there have been an unexplainable number of falls, and a strange, hot wind whispering through the tents.
Then, a new fortune teller arrives.
Myra meets Giselle, the beautiful, blind, child fortune teller, who often speaks of spirits in a way which may or may not be a joke. Myra finds herself drawn to her, despite the fact that she doesn’t believe in psychics.
When someone she cares about becomes the next victim of the falls, Myra must face the unnatural cause behind them. Will Myra be able to save the people she loves, or will she be the next one to drop?
Waycaller, Keysong (The Faeden Chronicles) — DJ McPhee (AU)
Tags: portal fantasy, high fantasy,
Seventeen year old Jack Gordon thinks he’s going mad, just like his mother who believed in mythical beings like elves, dragons and monsters. He’s even started hearing voices. But then he and his little sister Harriett are attacked by a monster that is definitely real.
Jack and Harriett find themselves magically transported to the hidden realm of Anwynn. In Anwynn, Jack learns that elves, dragons and Druids are very real and that he is a Waycaller: he has the power to part the veil between the hidden realm of Anwynn and the human realm.
Jack faces the challenges that come with being in an unfamiliar world that is as dangerous as it is magical. To survive, he must overcome his doubts and fears and learn to accept and use the power that resides within him. That might be a little easier if he weren't also struggling with his feelings for the mysterious Anarra, a part-elvish girl whose beauty is matched only by her skill with a sword.
Waycaller is Book 1 of The Faeden Chronicles. For lots of extra, free material about Waycaller (including a map of the magical realm of Anwynn) go to: www.waycaller.com
Cold As Hell — Neen Cohen (AU)
Tags: dark fantasy, urban fantasy
The town of OpenFields is cold as hell...
Magic exists in OpenFields, and everyone but Adie plays their part. So what happens when murder and strangers visit the secret town?
Adie's normal isn't "normal." Cameras watch her sleep, the eyes of the townsfolk narrow at her sight, and when she discovers her bosses' office in disarray, and a stranger who makes her heart thunder, her world changes forever.
Author Neen Cohen's Cold as Hell is an Urban Dark Fantasy like no other.
What secrets do OpenFields hold?
Adie's journey will rock the town to its foundation.
Flight, Veil, Crest (Call of The Rift) – Jae Waller (AU)
Tags: epic fantasy, YA fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Kateiko doesn’t want to be Rin anymore — not if it means sacrificing lives to protect the dead. Her only way out is to join another tribe, a one-way trek through the coastal rainforest. Killing a colonial soldier in the woods isn’t part of the plan. Neither is spending the winter with Tiernan, an immigrant who keeps a sword with his carpentry tools. His log cabin leaks and his stories about other worlds raise more questions than they answer.
Then the air spirit Suriel, long thought dormant, resurrects a war. For Kateiko, protecting other tribes in her confederacy is atonement. For Tiernan, war is a return to the military life he’s desperate to forget.
Leaving Tiernan means losing the one man Kateiko trusts. Staying with him means abandoning colonists to a death sentence. In a region tainted by prejudice and on the brink of civil war, she has to decide what’s worth dying — or killing — for.
Winter Masquerade — Kevin Klehr (AU)
Tags: magic realism, romance
Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.
The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam.
Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.
With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.
Drama Queens with Love Scenes, Drama Queens and Adult Themes, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes (Actors and Angels) — Kevin Klehr (AU)
Tags: magic realism, romance
Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea, so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.
Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
Social Media Central — Kevin Klehr (AU)
Tags: futuristic, dystopia
In an age where everyone lives their lives through a screen, no one has more celebrity status than fashion blogger extraordinaire, Madeline Q. And in a chance meeting, loner geek, Tayler, is introduced to her world of parties, fan worship and seduction.
But as his own star rises, Madeline Q is arrested for murder. There’s just one problem – there is no corpse. Tayler soon learns that fiction blurs with reality on Social Media Central.
Finding Aurora — Rebecca Langham (AU)
Tags: retelling, YA fantasy
Aurora Rose slumbers in the city of Oldpass, a cursed kingdom once allied with Grimvein. The victim of a malicious spell, she is powerless to control her own fate. At least, that’s how the story goes.
Now, as Grimvein faces attack, Prince Amir has been tasked with the life-threatening rescue of Aurora, his parents hopeful he will marry the princess and secure safety for their kingdom. Talia, the strongest spellcaster in the known lands, protects and guides the prince in his quest to save a woman that threatens to change their lives forever.
In finding Aurora, the pair will realise the truth about themselves and each other, coming to understand just what – and who – they really want in life.
Beneath the Surface, Breaking the Surface (Outsider Project Series) – Rebecca Langham (AU)
Tags: YA sci-fi, futuristic
When a change in collective conscious sends the Outsiders, a group of aliens, to the shadows below the city, humans reason that the demonization of their peers is simply more “humane.” There’s no question, nor doubt. Just acceptance.
Lydia had embraced that sense of “truth” for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a powerful governor, she has been able to live her life with more comforts than most. Comforts can be suffocating, though, and when the opportunity to teach Outsider children in their private, “humane” community becomes available, she takes it.
What she finds beneath the city is far from the truth she had grown to know. There she meets Alessia, an Outsider with the knowledge and will to shake the foundation of all those who walk above ground. The two find a new and unexpected connection despite a complete disconnect from the technological world. Or perhaps in spite of it.
Still, it takes a lot more than an immutable connection to change the world. Lydia, Alessia, and a small group of Outsiders must navigate a system of corruption, falsehoods, and twists none of them ever saw coming, all while holding on to the hope to come out alive in the end. But it’s a risk worth taking, and a future worth fighting for.
From a Shadow Grave — Andi C. Buchanan (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, crime, mystery, alternate history
This is no ordinary ghost story.
Wellington, 1931. Seventeen-year-old Phyllis Symons' body is discovered in the Mt Victoria tunnel construction site.
Eighty years later, Aroha Brooke is determined to save her life.
Succulents and Spells — Andi C. Buchanan (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, novella
Laurel Windflower is a witch from a family of magic workers - but her own life is going nowhere. Living in the damp, sunless side of Aro Valley, she works in a café, unable to produce anything more powerful than the most basic herbal potions. Until, one winter morning, Marigold Nightfield knocks on her door.
Marigold is a scientist, but she knows plenty about magic. There are strange things happening in her house, and her future discoveries require careful negotiation with monsters.
Laurel can’t walk away from a mystery – and she can’t walk away from Marigold either. But what lies ahead could reveal all of her shortcomings to the woman she's trying to impress… or uncover the true nature of her power.
Riverwitch — Rem Wigmore (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, novella
Ashley Robinson, self-taught witch, considers it her duty to protect her hometown of Hamilton. She spends her time on community work and picking up litter by the Waikato River.
But something is badly wrong with the river, a sickness deeper than mere pollution can explain. Magic must be the cause, but is it a curse or something else entirely? Ash has to get to the bottom of it, armed with nothing more than the support of her best friend Mikaere and a pocketful of crystals.
Then there’s Bryony Manu, the town’s only other witch. A charismatic practitioner of dark magic, Bryony is infuriating … and captivating. Ash needs their help to track down the source of the spell draining life from the river. Can she balance her work with her attraction to Bryony, and master her magic along the way?
The Wind City — Summer Wigmore (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, paranormal
Wellington. The wind city. New Zealand’s home of art and culture, but darker forces, forgotten forces, are starting to reappear. Aotearoa’s displaced iwi atua – the patupaiarehe, taniwha, and ponaturi of legend – have decided to make Wellington their home, and while some have come looking for love, others have arrived in search of blood.
A war is coming, and few can stand in their way. Saint (lovably fearless, temporarily destitute, currently unable to find a shirt) may be our only hope.
Tony, suddenly unemployed and potentially a taniwha herself, has little choice but to accept the role her bloodline dictates. And Hinewai, who fell with the rain? If she can’t find her one true love, there’s a good chance that none will live to see the morning. Wellington will never be the same again.
Overdues and Occultism — Jamie Sands (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, novella
A witch in the broom closet probably shouldn’t be so interested in a ghost hunter, right?
That Basil is a librarian comes as no surprise to his Mt Eden community. That he’s a witch?
Yeah. That might raise more than a few eyebrows.
The Other Side of the Mirror — Jamie Sands (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy, detective, paranormal
The case: a grandmother who vanished from a locked room.
The best lead: a psychic who’s as mysterious as she is cute.
Detective Jack Donovan is the one called upon when weird cases hit Auckland. A fierce loner with a reputation for solving the unsolvable, she is the perfect choice for the latest odd mystery: the locked-room disappearance of a beloved grandmother, who has vanished without trace and, seemingly, without suspects or a motive.
This time around, though, Jack has also been assigned a partner. The fresh young detective Piper, who has transferred in with a difficult history, is determined to prove themself. Smart, perky, and inexperienced. They are exactly the kind of partner Jack manages to scare away.
As they dig deeper into the mystery, though, Jack has to put her own reluctance in the back seat and help Piper navigate a whole different world — because the beloved grandmother has her own mysterious past, one that has already cost lives… and souls.
With the help of the enigmatic and beautiful psychic Emmaline, Jack and Piper must confront the strange world on the other side of the mirror. Some mysteries can only be solved with magic!
The Suburban Book of the Dead — Jamie Sands (NZ)
Tags: horror, paranormal
No one expected the last night of the Summer holidays to be deadly.
Rain and her best friends Rachel and Jackie head to the carnival. Rain's plan was to chat up Jake, who runs the Ferris Wheel, and maybe get a kiss or two.
But then Rachel's killed in mysterious circumstances, and none of them will ever be the same again.
When Rachel returns as a ghost insisting Rain find out who killed her and why, she turns to Jake, who knows more than he seems to. In fact, he's encountered weird stuff like ghosts and monsters before.
So now she just has to grieve for a friend who she's still talking to, try not to fall deeper in love with Jake, keep her family off her back, decide who to trust, infiltrate the funfair and find Rachel's killer. Piece of cake, right?
Holloway Witches — Isa Pearl Ritchie (NZ)
Tags: urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy, novella
Ursula escapes to Holloway Rd, leaving her former life in tatters, following a bad break-up.
She’s looking forward to a quiet respite in a cozy cottage with a lush garden and lots of bookshelves, but instead she can’t shake the eerie feeling she’s being followed. The tomato plants are growing back out of season, and she’s seeing unusual visions of a purple-haired woman who’s a lot more intriguing than Ursula would expect.
Then there’s gorgeous Rowan with his quirky house truck; she barely knows him yet, but he seems to know more about the weird things going on than Ursula does and she can’t deny she’s drawn to him as well…
When a creepy and bewitching stranger appears, Ursula has to learn more about magic, her family history, and herself, if she wants to protect the people who are most important to her.
Euphoria Kids — Alison Evans (AU)
Tags: urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy
Ever since the witch cursed Babs, she turns invisible sometimes. She has her mum and her dog, but teachers and classmates barely notice her. Then, one day, Iris can see her. And Iris likes what they see. Babs is made of fire.
Iris grew from a seed in the ground. They have friends, but not human ones. Not until they meet Babs. The two of them have a lot in common: they speak to dryads and faeries, and they're connected to the magic that's all around them.
There's a new boy at school, a boy who's like them and who hasn't found his real name. Soon the three of them are hanging out and trying spellwork together. Magic can be dangerous, though. Witches and fae can be cruel. Something is happening in the other realm, and despite being warned to stay away, the three friends have to figure out how to deal with it on their own terms.
Anyone who loves the work of Francesca Lia Block and delights in Studio Ghibli films will be entranced by this gorgeous and gentle young adult novel about three queer friends who come into their power.
Heart of Brass, Silver and Stone, Iron Lights (The Antipodean Queen series) – Felicity Banks (AU)
Tags: steampunk, historic
Emmeline Muchamore is a well-bred young lady hiding explosive family secrets. She needs to marry well, and quickly, in order to keep her family respectable. But when her brass heart malfunctions, she makes a desperate choice to steal the parts she needs to repair it and survive.
She is unable to explain her actions without revealing she has a steam-powered heart, so she is arrested for theft and transported to Victoria, Australia – right in the midst of the Gold Rush.
Now that she’s escaped the bounds of high society, iron manacles cannot hold her for long.
The only metal that really matters is gold.