Hoohoo, friends of the blade.
Welcome back to another post about underrated books you should definitely read. Find my posts about underrated SFF-series here and my post about recent LGBTQ+ reads here. If you’ve read these posts and also read this one, you’ll notice that one book features in two posts but hey, I adore it and the series to much not to mention it again. Especially because I just read the second installment. Anyways. What’s an underrated book, you might wonder. It’s a book that has less than 5.000 ratings on Goodreads. And without further ado, how about we start right off?
Shanghai Immortal by A.Y. Chao
Shanghai Immortal #1
Pawned by her mother to the King of Hell as a child, Lady Jing is half-vampire, half-hulijing fox-spirit and all sasshole. As the King’s ward, she has spent the past ninety years running errands, dodging the taunts of the spiteful hulijing courtiers, and trying to control her explosive temper – with varying levels of success.
So when Jing overhears the courtiers plotting to steal a priceless dragon pearl from the King, she seizes her chance to expose them, once and for all.
With the help of a gentle mortal tasked with setting up the Central Bank of Hell, Jing embarks on a wild chase for intel, first through Hell and then mortal Shanghai. But when her hijinks put the mortal in danger, she must decide which is more important: avenging her loss of face, or letting go of her half-empty approach to life for a chance to experience tenderness – and maybe even love.
You should try Shanghai Immortal if you like…
- adult SFF
- silly, funny but lovingly written dialogues
- a sweet, slowly developing romance with many (funny) setbacks
- Chinese mythology
- an amazing, intricate world building and detailed writing
- a lot of action scenes
- a protagonist who is actually smart but also a bit clumsy, bratty and never does what she’s supposed to
- old, exasperated beings acting as father figures >>>>
- sword girlfriends!!
- angry & impulsive x sweet & thinks too much
Little Black Bird by Anna Kirchner
#1: Little Black Bird
#2: Tall White Tenement
#3: Broken Red Sky
Synopsis of Little Black Bird:
Magic is dying out, but it will not disappear without a fight.
Wiktoria is a seventeen year old with a secret: she has psychic powers. Her uncontrollable telekinesis hurts her and others, setting fires and throwing objects in the air, no matter how hard she tries to hold it back. All she wants to have is a peaceful, average life, but it’s difficult when you’ve been cursed to destroy the magical world.
Her carefully maintained facade of normality starts to unravel when she’s hunted down by local sorcerers and their Guardian, and accused of unleashing banished demons back into the human realm. When a murder shakes up the magical community, everyone agrees that the only way to save the world is to kill Wiktoria.
Her only ally is a boy who can read her mind, shares her dreams and makes her question her sexuality. Together, they face mythical creatures and uncover ancient legends, and they soon realize that there is no such thing as simply good or evil. Whether they break the curse or allow it to fulfill its destiny, the magical world will be forever changed.
You should try Little Black Bird if you like…
- urban fantasy
- books not set in the US or UK for once but Poland
- slavic mythology
- a protagonist who has to deal with magical abilities but there is no wise old guy to teach her
- a lot of action
- beautiful descriptions of forests and food and also of the city
- a very queer cast of characters
- characters discovering who they are and want to be
- interesting magical systems
The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
The Dark Gods:
#1: The City of Dusk
#2: The Midnight Kingdom
#3: The Dawn Throne
Synopsis of The City of Dusk:
The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.
But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.
Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.
But their defiance will cost them dearly.
You should try The City of Dusk if you like…
- a queernormative world with a many queer characters
- dark magic
- girls going batshit crazy and wreaking havoc (but you’ll cheer for them)
- interesting and developing romantic constellations
- complex group dynamics
- different magic systems that are interwoven
- sword girlfriends and knife wives
- complex and detailed world building
- complex and intricately written characters
Hex and the City by Kate Johnson
#1: Hex Appeal
#2: Hex and the City
1. She’s a witch
2. She has magical hair like Rapunzel from Tangled
3. She lives with Iris, the head of her coven, in a beautiful, ramshackle house next to Highgate cemetery
4. She works at Hubble Bubble, a magic shop in Covent Garden. Though none of it is real magic as that would be highly irresponsible. Until…
…Poppy accidentally sells gorgeous celebrity magician Axl Storm, all six-foot-four of him, a cursed pendant.
When all hell breaks loose can the guy with fake magic and the girl with real magic fix the chaos they’ve caused? Or will sparks fly both in and out of the cauldron?
You should try Hex and the City if you like…
- modern witches
- books set in London
- absolutely hilarious and unbelievable situations that make sense anyways
- sexual tension
- magical things developing a life of their own and wreaking havoc
- a weird but wonderful coven
- time travel
- not a minute of peace because magic always interrupts your life
- just a lot of fun and a lot of kissing
- romance books you can read separately even if they are set in the same universe
Fear the Flames by Olivia Rose Darling
Synopsis of Fear the Flames:
Princess. Prisoner. Runaway. Queen.
Elowen Atarah, Princess of Imirath, came into the world like a firestorm made flesh. A princess with a link to five dragons should have been a blessing to her kingdom, but her blessing became her curse. The little girl in shackles became a knife wielding woman with a thirst for retaliation.
Now, Queen of Aestilian, a secret kingdom she forged through strength and survival, Elowen needs a way to feed her rising population. She never thought she would have the force to take on Imirath, but when the snarky Commander Cayden Veles of Vareveth, her father’s enemy kingdom, offers her a deal she’s been dreaming of for years, how can she not take it? Even if he ignites her temper like no other, nothing unites two begrudging allies more than a common enemy.
The pair of them, along with three accomplices, will navigate their partnership, politics, and attempt to pull off the greatest heist their world has ever known. Five people, all united through revenge, will have to transcend the odds stacked against them and infiltrate “The Impenetrable Castle” if they want to reap their rewards before someone reaps their souls. Putting aside their differences to accomplish a common goal because everyone knows…vengeance is a promise signed in blood.
You should try Fear the Flames if you like…
- protagonists who are both the muscle and the brain
- a wonderful friendship group
- allies to lovers
- a hot and steamy romance
- spicy spicy scenes
- an interesting world building and magic concepts
- a lot of action
- complicated family situations
- political intrigues
What underrated fantasy books can you recommend? Have you read any of this list or plan to? What’s your favourite fantasy genre and do you like your fantasy with romance or without?
Until next time,