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Ten Genre-Bending Books by Latinx Authors To Read For Latinx Heritage Month (And Beyond)

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BY September 16, 2020
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Here at Comic Years we love to recommend genre books to read. Of course there are so many great books out there that inevitably we have to break our recommendations down into categories. In the past we have recommended excellent black authors working in science fiction and fantasy, and all of the areas in between. We have brought you lists of indigenous authors, and books starring LGBTQ characters. But one area that we have not yet addressed is a subset of the genre that is highly influential – books by Latinx authors.
Latin-American authors have contributed to genre fiction in major ways over the years. They were the ones who invented magical realism after all. This genre has gone on to inform sci-fi and fantasy – along with contemporary literature – in dramatic ways. But there are plenty of Latinx authors working in genre beyond magical realism, and in this list we will highlight some standout books and authors.
Latinx Heritage Month goes from September 15 – October 15. It is more vital than ever to read authors of color, and amplify their voices. Check out some of our recommendations, and celebrate Latinx authors all year round.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits Image via Simon & Schuster

Author Isabel Allende is one of the writers who cemented magical realism as a genre unto itself. Her lyrical prose often centers around Latinx women and their inner lives. The House of the Spirits is one such book, a novel that spans generations in the country of Chile. The youngest daughter of the del Valle family – Clara – has psychic and supernatural abilities. But even she cannot always foresee the political turmoil and tragedies that will befall both her country and her family. This was Allende’s first published novel and established her as one of the foremost Latinx authors of her time.

The Goldsmith’s Secret by Elia Barceló

The Goldsmith's Secret Image via Hachette Books

If you’re looking for something a bit shorter, this novella by Elia Barceló is a great place to start. The Goldsmith’s Secret is a sweeping tale of love and magic set in Spain. The protagonist is a successful goldsmith who returns to the village of his youth. From there he finds himself travelling through time and across worlds. The story is a poetic exploration of memory and longing. I love a good time-travel story and The Goldsmith’s Secret is a beautiful take on the idea.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost Image via SourceBooks

The first book in the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy. Labyrinth Lost follows Alex who is the most powerful witch (bruja) in generations. Except Alex hates magic and does not want to be a witch. In attempt to rid herself of her innate magic, she casts a spell that backfires and suddenly her entire family has vanished. To save her family she must team up with a brujo (a male witch or sorcerer) and learn to embrace the magic that defines her. Each book of the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy follows a different character and as such each book can technically stand alone (although the latter books will contain spoilers for others in the series). A smart fantasy adventure with compelling queer characters and a fascinating exploration of Latinx culture from a YA point of view.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body & Other Parties Image via GrayWolf Press

This collection of short stories is sure to enthrall and horrify the reader in equal measure. Carmen Maria Machado has a gift for injecting horror into the mundane, and subverting expectations. Some of the stories are truly mysterious – like the lengthy Law & Order: SVU fanfic in the middle of the collection that will make you question the nature of reality itself. But all of the stories are transcendent, and rooted in horror and the supernatural. There are alternative takes on fairy-tales (The Husband Stitch) and eerily prescient apocalyptic stories (Inventory). Many of these short stories were published elsewhere before being collected for publication in Her Body and Other Parties. Carmen Maria Machado is one of the foremost Latinx writers of our generation. Check out this collection of short stories if you’re into horror (I’m not, and I still loved it).

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore 

Blanca & Roja Image via MacMillan Books

This gorgeous novel has been acclaimed as a “queer latina take on Swan Lake.” It is the story of two very different sisters who have always been rivals. One of them is doomed to transform into a swan, as generations of women in their family have been cursed. It is a fascinating take on the fairy-tale with nuanced characterization and beautiful descriptive imagery. Anna-Marie McLemore is also the author of several other fantasy novels including Wild Beauty and The Weight of Feathers.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic Image via Del Rey Publishing

Take everything you know about Gothic Horror. Transport it from England to Mexico, where colonialism and racism are the real evils lurking beneath the skin of an old stately house. Mexican Gothic just came out in March but it has been on the NYT Bestseller list since publication, and has already been optioned for adaptation on Hulu. This novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is both beautiful, and deeply deeply creepy. Featuring a female protagonist who is vitally real and complicated, the novel also explores gender norms and the horrors of classism. The author has also penned several other acclaimed genre novels including Gods of Jade and Shadow and Signal to Noise.

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Nocturna Image via Harper Collins

The first book in A Forgery of Magic series. This is probably the closest to ‘high fantasy’ of any book on this list. The novel follows the character of Finn, a ‘faceshifter’ with magical abilities who is constantly changing identities. She gets tangled up with a prince and unlocks an ancient magical power. An action-packed adventure story that will fully immerse you in this Latinx inspired world. A beautiful exploration of magic, identity, and the price of power. Add this one to your list of Latinx genre books to read if you love fantasy.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper Series Image via Scholastic Books

Daniel José Older is a familiar name here at Comic Years, for all of his work in the Star Wars literary universe. But before he ventured to a galaxy far far away, the author wrote several fantasy novels in his Shadowshaper Cypher series. The novel follows the character of Sierra who uncovers a supernatural order – the titural Shadowshapers. These individuals have the power to connect with spirits through the process of making art. A unique magical system is coupled with powerful commentary on social justice and the everyday trauma of Latinx people in the U.S. A highly compelling series that stands as a modern-day classic in the urban fantasy genre.

Each of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro

Each Of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro Image via MacMillan Publishing

The most recent release on our list. Each of Us a Desert is a beautiful and poetic novel about the power of the stories we live with. The main character Xochital is a cuentista – a storyteller – whose role is to absorb the confessions of her fellow villagers and absolve them. Without the power of the cuentista, the sins of the people in this world can manifest as real monsters. When Xochital encounters another cuentista who uses his powers for evil, she embarks on a journey to discover the truth about her powers and the world around her. An emotionally charged story that hearkens back to magical realism, while firmly establishing Oshiro as a standout voice in fantasy. Keep an eye out for our review of Each of Us a Desert coming soon.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind Image via Penguin Books

A classic of the magical realism genre, The Shadow of the Wind blends multiple genres seamlessly. A mystery at its heart, this novel is also a unique fantasy full of magic and an ode to the power of books by one of the best-known Latinx authors working in the genre. Set in Barcelona, post World War 2 the novel follows a book dealer who discovers a mysterious book. This leads him on a quest to find other books by the same author. Only he discovers that they have been systematically destroyed. There are stories within stories in this novel, and each layer adds to the beauty and mystery of the text. There are also two follow-up novels in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series – The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven.

What are your favorite genre books by Latinx authors? Let us know by joining the conversation with Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today.

BooksAuthorsBook SeriesBooksCollectionFantasyFictionGenre BooksGenre FictionLatinx AuthorsMagical RealismNovellaSci-Fi & FantasyScience FictionShort StoriesTop 10 List

Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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