Summer reading: ‘Harry Potter’ alternatives

Welcome Summer

Author J.K. Rowling came under fire Saturday for mocking a headline using trans-inclusive language. While she has been accused of transphobia for years, many readers have become weary of continuing to support her books.

Actor Daniel Radcliffe, famous for his roles in movies based on Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, said he hoped Rowling’s recent comments wouldn’t “taint” fans’ opinions of the franchise. The books taught that “love is the strongest force in the universe,” he noted.

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020

If you’re looking for some alternative to “Harry Potter” this summer or if you’re simply hoping to expand your bookcase, there’s a vast and growing collection of fantasy and science fiction books that offer magic and suspense beyond the boy wizard series. To help get you started, here’s a primer on novels in the genre written by and about transgender and nonbinary people.

An Unkindness of Ghosts” by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon’s debut novel — a finalist for the 30th Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror — follows Aster, a healer who lives on a segregated space vessel. As Aster grapples with and fights back against racial injustice, she also seeks to connect the details of her mother’s suicide and the mysterious death of the ship’s leader.

Magic for Liars” by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey’s 2019 noir urban fantasy tells the story of Ivy Gamble, a detective who always felt uncomfortable with her magical powers. After a murder occurs at the school where her estranged twin sister teaches, Ivy’s magic is put to the test as she sets out to uncover the identity of the murderer and forge a stronger relationship with her sibling.

Queen of the Conquered” by Kacen Callender

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Kacen Callender’s “Queen of the Conquered” is the first novel in their “Islands of Blood and Storm” series. The novel centers on Sigourney Rose, the only survivor after her family is killed by colonizers. Rose is determined to reclaim her family’s island and plans to use her supernatural ability of manipulating others’ minds to do so.

Pet” by Akwaeke Emezi

A National Book Award finalist, “Pet” chronicles the relationship between Jam, a transgender teen, and her best friend, Redemption, a mythical creature who’s come to protect her from a monster that no one else in the novel seems able to admit exists.

The Unintentional Time Traveler” by Everett Maroon

After Jack Bishop participates in an epilepsy clinical trial, he emerges in a different body, that of a girl named Jacqueline from a previous era. At first Jack believes he’s hallucinating. When realizes he’s not, he has to learn how to navigate these two identities and time periods, both to discover who he really is and save his town.

Felix Yz” by Lisa Bunker

After a science experiment gone awry, 13-year-old Felix becomes fused with an alien who takes residence inside of him. “Felix Yz” is written as Feliz’s secret blog, during which he describes his journey to a medical procedure that will separate the alien from his body.

Maiden, Mother, Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes” edited by Gwen Benaway

“Maiden, Mother, Crone” bills itself as the first anthology of fantasy short stories written entirely by trans femme authors. The anthology includes contributions from Alexa Fae McDaniel, Lilah Sturges, Kylie Ariel Bemis, Kai Cheng Thom and more.

All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the ages” edited by Shaundra Mitchell

This collection of LGBTQ+ historical fiction offers seventeen short stories with centering queer characters — including a reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story — that features a transgender soldier, and a story about two girls bonding over a shared grief sparked by Kurt Cobain’s death and falling in love.

Eric Olafson: Space Pirate” by Vanessa Ravencroff

Eric Olafson has left his planet to pursue his dreams of becoming a Starship captain, but he gets kidnapped along the way. As he tries to escape, he discovers a new mission: reconciling conflict between the different planets of the galaxy.

Dreadnought: Nemesis” by April Daniels

In this coming-of-age tale, a teen inherits the mantle of the superhero, Dreadnought, which endows her with superpowers that will come in handy as she fights transphobic villains.

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Gwen Aviles

Gwen Aviles is a trending news and culture reporter for NBC News.