As we come to the end of a Pride month without Pride events, here are some books with aromantic and asexual main characters to remind you that you’re not out here alone – or, if you’re not aro or ace yourself, to let you explore an aro-ace perspective.
Aromantic and asexual representation is seeing a big rise in the last year or two, and not a minute too soon (one or two, or even three, minutes too late, you might even say). Far from the scanty offerings of even a few years back, these books give us aromanticism and asexuality at the forefront, explored with a generous helping of understanding and nuance.
Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor
A science-fantasy, Tarnished Are the Stars is perfect for readers who are fans of aces in space (and, really, who wouldn’t be). Against an uncomfortably believable backdrop in which Earth has become uninhabitable due to human activity, the book unravels the tale of Anna, Nathaniel, and Eliza. It’s in Nathaniel that we find our aromantic and asexual lead. Rosiee Thor gives us a fast-paced plot, nuanced characters, and an f/f romance as well as an aro-ace hero. I always seem to wish that books could be longer, to give the characters time to think and shift and grow in front of us – and this one is no exception. However, it’s a fantastic debut.
Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller
It’s niche, but if there’s one trope I love, it’s the one where two characters have to switch lives and convincingly play each other. Belle Revolte gave me just that, with added magic and an asexual character too. I feel outright spoiled. The magic system is really interesting in this one. It’s true that I could have used a little more build-up to the switch itself – the plot is a little up and down. But the sapphic asexual representation was beautifully and intimately written.
Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland
Ooh, I do love a dark fantasy. I really, really do. And Beyond the Black Door is a good one, too. The setting, in particular, is outstanding – it’s stuck with me long after I finished the book. The heroine, Kamai, is described by the author as asexual and demi-biromantic, a level of detail and understanding of the aro-ace spectrum that I’m just not used to seeing. The book engages with trans identity, lets its characters grow in self-understanding rather than presenting them as ready-made, and also isn’t afraid to explore grey and dark areas of morality with queer characters – that is, it treats its queer characters as humans, with all the attending moral uncertainty. It’s a twisty and exciting read.
Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan
This fantasy story takes a look at the well-worn “damsel and hero” set-up and says very decidedly no thank you, not this time. Our protagonist, Gerald, is aromantic and asexual, and refuses to become either damsel or hero – he will not rescue, and he will not be the rescuee. While I found the story ran into some issues with pacing, it was this hero being outside the expected narrative, and having to deal with that, that kept me feeling involved on every page. Royal Rescue also features a queerplatonic relationship, which felt like a rare treat.
If you’re still ready for more aro/ace reads, here are a couple that have yet to be released but are coming out this year:
Loveless by Alice Oseman (Release Date: 9th July, 2020)
Since every other book on this list is a fantasy, it’s refreshing to hear about an upcoming book with an aromantic and asexual main character that’s set in the mundane real world. It also seems from the blurb as though the main character is going to be coming to terms with her identity over the course of the book, and I’m looking forward to watching that play out (pun intended) through a Shakespeare staging that goes wrong – the plot sounds fun and light, and I’ve only heard good things about Alice Oseman’s previous works.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (Release Date: 25th August, 2020)
There aren’t words to describe how keen I am to read Elatsoe. It’s going to be a fantasy set in a contemporary alternative America; the blurb promises supernatural creatures and legends come alive, along with a picture-perfect town hiding dark secrets. The main character herself, the eponymous Elatsoe, is Lipan Apache – as is the author of the book, Darcie Little Badger. If the cover is anything to go by, the illustrations from Rovina Cai are going to be breathtaking.
Still not enough? You can find another recommendation of a book with an aro-ace protagonist, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, here at The Geekiary! Happy Pride!
Author: Em Rowntree
I’m a non-binary writer, teacher, and cat-lover from the UK.
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