This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted as usual by That Artsy Reader Girl, had me kinda grasping at straws because so many old queer books I loved were published in 2013 or up to 2017. And I was so sure I’d read them more than ten years ago… Am I not as old as I think?!
But I managed to find some and I really enjoyed that trip down memory lane. So much so, that I can’t wait to reread them – as well as those that aren’t yet 10 years old. I do admit, that some books just feature a queer side character, but those meant a lot to me as a child/teenager, therefore I am featuring them in this list as well.
Queer Backlist Books
Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen
Once, Special Agent Smoky Barrett hunted serial killers for the FBI. She was one of the best–until a madman terrorized her family, killed her husband and daughter, and left her face scarred and her soul brutalized. Turning the tables on the killer, Smoky shot him dead–but her life was shattered forever.
Now Smoky dreams about picking up her weapon again. She dreams about placing the cold steel between her lips and pulling the trigger one last time. Because for a woman who’s lost everything, what is there left to lose?
She’s about to find out.
In all her years at the Bureau, Smoky has never encountered anyone like him–a new and fascinating kind of monster, a twisted genius who defies profilers’ attempts to understand him. And he’s issued Smoky a direct challenge, coaxing her back from the brink with the only thing that could convince her to live.
The killer videotaped his latest crime–an act of horror that left a child motherless–then sent a message addressed to Agent Smoky Barrett. The message is enough to shock Smoky back to work, back to her FBI team. And that child awakens something in Smoky she thought was gone forever.
Suddenly the stakes are raised. The game has changed. For as this deranged monster embarks on an unspeakable spree of perversion and murder, Smoky is coming alive again–and she’s about to face her greatest fears as a cop, a woman, a mother…and a merciless killer’s next victim.
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
From New York Times Bestselling author Brent Weeks…
For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.
But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.
Suicide Watch by Kelley York
18-year-old Vincent Hazelwood has spent his entire life being shuffled from one foster home to the next. His grades sucked. Making friends? Out of the question thanks to his nervous breakdowns and unpredictable moods. Still, Vince thought when Maggie Atkins took him in, he might’ve finally found a place to get his life—and his issues—in order.
But then Maggie keels over from a heart attack. Vince is homeless, alone, and the inheritance money isn’t going to last long. A year ago, Vince watched a girl leap to her death off a bridge, and now he’s starting to think she had the right idea.
Vince stumbles across a website forum geared toward people considering suicide. There, he meets others with the same debate regarding the pros and cons of death: Casper, battling cancer, would rather off herself than slowly waste away. And there’s quiet, withdrawn Adam, who suspects if he died, his mom wouldn’t even notice.
As they gravitate toward each other, Vince searches for a reason to live while coping without Maggie’s guidance, coming to terms with Casper’s imminent death, and falling in love with a boy who doesn’t plan on sticking around.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan
“We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician.”
This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders…and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.
With Caution by J.L. Langley
A brother’s vow. A lover’s promise. Both could put them all at deadly risk. Remington Lassiter is trying his best to stay out of trouble while he learns the ropes of being a werewolf. When his little brother turns up covered in bruises, he is driven to finally bring their abusive father to justice. To do it, he must face a past he hides behind his cocky, trouble-making attitude. A past so dark it haunts him only in dreams.
Jake Romero, a crack private investigator with a bad-boy biker image, realizes he has his work cut out for him when Remi asks for his help. From the first moment he turned Remi into a werewolf in order to save his life, Jake has been fighting to keep his inner demons at bay. He’s torn between the desire to tell Remi they are destined to be mates, and the need to first let Remi get used to the werewolf life.
Jake will do anything to protect Remi and help him break the cycle of abuse he has endured all his life, but his investigation is about to uncover something far more sinister and deadly than they ever imagined. A past that could put all their lives at risk.
Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, violence, hot nekkid man-love.
Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban, Abigail Roux
A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.
Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He’s cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he’s paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it’s hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliche: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.
Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer’s knife.
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
From global phenomenon C. S. Pacat comes the first in her critically acclaimed trilogy—with a bonus story.
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…
Includes an exclusive extra story!
Thinking back, especially those queer side characters may have formed my easy acceptance of non-cishet people, way before I knew I was queer myself. Later, as a teen, on the cusp of figuring myself out, I yearned for gay books – mostly because other queer novels weren’t in my bookstore and therefore not an option.
I carried that with me when I was able to research online for books to read and I definitely stumbled onto some… questionable works of fiction, that I enjoyed without recognizing that.
Now that I am older, I’m able to spot those things and divide them from the story if possible. Some books I simply put into my mental trash can because I can’t enjoy them without a very bitter aftertaste.
Which books have shaped part of your outlook on life?