3 Asian-Inspired Fantasy Books To Read Now
For decades, the majority of fantasy books used a European influenced, vaguely Medieval setting. Not so any longer. Authors are writing great Asian-inspired fantasy books. They’re exploring the myths, folklore, and fairytales of countries like India, China, and Japan. And I couldn’t be more excited! I love that the diversity of the genre is growing. So, on to my recommendations!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. This has such a gorgeous, eye-catching cover that I knew I had to read the book before I even knew what it was about. When I read that the author was exploring Persian fairytales with a dash of “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I was sold. Which if you haven’t read “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” do yourself a favor and dive into this short, Gothic love story.
Soraya is a princess who’s cursed to be poisonous to the touch. This means that she lives in seclusion, isolated and hidden from her people while her twin brother Sorush rules their people. And then, Soraya discovers that there might be a cure for her curse but it comes with a serious cost. Curses, betrayals, family secrets plus demons, and mythological creatures. Much fun!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is available as:
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. This series takes place in the historical Asian-inspired Kingdom of Ikhara, ruled by a brutal Demon King. Three types of beings live in Ikhara: demons, humans, and half-demon half-humans. Each year, the Demon King demands 8 human concubines called Paper Girls.
This year, the Demon King chooses a ninth girl, Lei. The Royal Guards kidnap her from her home taking her to the Demon King’s palace. When Lei was a young girl, the Royal Guards dragged her mother away. Lei never saw her again. So she feels terrified and angry. For the other girls, being chosen as a Paper Girl is a great honor. They’re pampered as they’re taught the skills and behaviors befitting a king’s consort.
Lei does the unthinkable and falls in love with one of the other Paper Girls. Involved in a forbidden relationship, Lei then further complicates things when she starts plotting with revolutionaries.
Girls of Paper and Fire is available as:
The Poppy War by RF Kuang is a nominee of multiple awards. Set in a world inspired by China, the Nikan Empire defeated the Federation of Mugen and currently a fragile state of peace exists.
Rin is an orphaned peasant girl living in poverty with few prospects. And then she aces the Keju, an Empire-wide test, to find the most talented youth. That Rin performed so well without cheating shocks everyone. But now Rin’s future has possibilities beyond marrying a criminal as her guardians expect.
And then she discovers that she has shamanic powers. Powers that could be crucial to winning a coming war with the Federation of Mugen.
The Poppy War is available as: