8 new and upcoming SFF and horror releases for grimdark fans to celebrate Pride Month 2023

Last Updated on June 20, 2023

In June, we celebrate and commemorate the Pride movement – recognising the LGBTQ+ movement and celebrating its culture. Throughout this month, we have been sharing some of our favourite queer reads on the GdM social media, but here are our chosen 2023 new and upcoming releases. Not only do these novels all offer the fantasy escapism we all like, but they also have great representations of queer characters and are all written by authors who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle

Cover for Camp Damascus by Chuck TingleCamp Damascus is a truly terrifying supernatural horror novel set at the ‘most effective’ gay conversion camp in the country. Tingle’s horror debut has been described as ‘searing and earnest’ about the demons faced by the queer community. Though there are also real demons in Camp Damascus, and they need to be killed. Camp Damascus is out in July.

Read our review here.

About the book

Welcome to Neverton, Montana: home to a God-fearing community with a heart of gold.

Nestled high up in the mountains is Camp Damascus, the self-proclaimed “most effective” gay conversion camp in the country. Here, a life free from sin awaits. But the secret behind that success is anything but holy.

And they’ll scare you straight to hell.

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Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Cover for Feed Them Silence by Lee MandeloA science fiction novella set in the near future, Lee Mandelo’s Feed Them Silence focuses on what it means to ‘be in kind’ with a non-human animal. It shows us Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s obsession with her research, how this dream impacts the relationship with her wife, and the terrible cost it wreaks on both Sean’s body and brain and the wolf she is tampering with. Feed Them Silence is out now.

Read our review here.

About the book

What does it mean to “be-in-kind” with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.

Sean’s tireless research gives her a chance to fulfill that dream, but pursuing it has a terrible cost. Her obsession with work endangers her fraying relationship with her wife. Her research methods threaten her mind and body. And the attention of her VC funders could destroy her subject, the beautiful wild wolf whose mental world she’s invading.

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He Who Drowned the World by Shelley Parker-Chan

The second book in The Radiant Empire series He Who Drowned the World is a Chinese-inspired military fantasy. It follows Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, after her victory over the Mongols and her mission to seize the throne and crown herself emperor against any and all contenders. He Who Drowned the World is due out in August. You can read our She Who Became the Sun review on the site and find Shelley Parker- Chan on our list of ‘Rising Stars of Grimdark’ list.

About the book

How much would you give to win the world?

Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after her victory that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor.

But Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial ambitions. Her neighbor in the south, the courtesan Madam Zhang, wants the throne for her husband―and she’s strong enough to wipe Zhu off the map. To stay in the game, Zhu will have to gamble everything on a risky alliance with an old enemy: the talented but unstable eunuch general Ouyang, who has already sacrificed everything for a chance at revenge on his father’s killer, the Great Khan.

Unbeknownst to the southerners, a new contender is even closer to the throne. The scorned scholar Wang Baoxiang has maneuvered his way into the capital, and his lethal court games threaten to bring the empire to its knees. For Baoxiang also desires revenge: to become the most degenerate Great Khan in history―and in so doing, make a mockery of every value his Mongol warrior family loved more than him.

All the contenders are determined to do whatever it takes to win. But when desire is the size of the world, the price could be too much for even the most ruthless heart to bear…

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Alecto the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

We love Tamsyn Muir at Team GdM, all the novels in The Locked Tomb series (Gideon the Ninth, Harrow the Ninth, and Nona the Ninth) were well received by our crew, and this fourth and final installment of Alecto the Ninth landed a spot on our SFF books we can’t wait to read in 2023. It feels like the rest of the series has been building to an epic finale in Alecto the Ninth, and it’s so exciting to read the conclusion of this wondrous lesbian necromancer space opera. Alecto the Ninth is due out in October.

About the book

The fourth installment in The Locked Tomb series—Gideon the NinthHarrow the NinthNona the Ninth, and Alecto the Ninth—is an epic science fantasy that blends necromantic theory and thrilling swordplay with a wicked, sacrilegious sense of humor; a modern mix of Dune, Riddick, and Gormenghast.

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Pre-order to come from Tordot com.

 

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

Cover for To Shape a Dragon's Breath by Moniquill BlackgooseThe Grimdark Magazine review for To Shape a Dragon’s Breath called it ‘one blazing epic gulp of a fantastic tale’ and if that doesn’t make you want to read it I don’t know what will. Blackgoose has some wonderful characters in her novel and she manages to create a good dark fantasy world which is queer, anti-colonialist, and chock full of dragons. It is the first in a series and To Shape a Dragon’s Breath is out now and you can read our full review on the Grimdark Magazine site.

Read our review here.

About the book

The remote island of Masquapaug has not seen a dragon in many generations—until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Her people are delighted, for all remember the tales of the days when dragons lived among them and danced away the storms of autumn, enabling the people to thrive. To them, Anequs is revered as Nampeshiweisit—a person in a unique relationship with a dragon.

Unfortunately for Anequs, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions. They have a very specific idea of how a dragon should be raised, and who should be doing the raising—and Anequs does not meet any of their requirements. Only with great reluctance do they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school on the mainland. If she cannot succeed there, her dragon will be killed.

For a girl with no formal schooling, a non-Anglish upbringing, and a very different understanding of the history of her land, challenges abound—both socially and academically. But Anequs is smart, determined, and resolved to learn what she needs to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. The one thing she refuses to do, however, is become the meek Anglish miss that everyone expects.

Anequs and her dragon may be coming of age, but they’re also coming to power, and that brings an important realization: the world needs changing—and they might just be the ones to do it.

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Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

Cover for Godkiller by Hannah KanerHannah Kaner’s debut fantasy novel not only featured on the lauded Sunday Times bestseller list, but Kaner landed a spot on both our SFF books we can’t wait to read in 2023 and our Rising Stars of Grimdark lists. Godkiller follows Kissen, a godkiller who finds herself in trouble when she meets a god she cannot kill – Skedi, the god of white lies because killing him will cause the death of the human girl he is linked to. You can read our full review of Godkiller here, and it is out now.

Read our review here.

About the book

You are not welcome here, godkiller.

Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.

Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour.

Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it.

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Dragonfall by L R Lam

Cover for Dragonfall by L R LamIn Dragonfall non binary author L R Lam has created not only a queernorm world, in terms of sexuality and gender. It is part of the social structure to introduce yourself with your preferred pronouns – one of the lead characters Arcady is non binary and doesn’t mind which you use. The other, Everen, is a smidgen confused by the whole thing, but as a shapeshifted dragon with minimal worldly experience, we can forgive him. Dragonfall is a great new world, the first in a trilogy, which you can read more about in our review of the novel here. It is out now.

Read our review here.

About the book

Long-banished dragons, revered as gods, return to the mortal realm in the first in this magical new epic fantasy trilogy from a bestselling author

Long ago, humans betrayed dragons, stealing their magic and banishing them to a dying world. Centuries later, their descendants worship dragons as gods. But the “gods” remember, and they do not forgive.

Thief Arcady scrapes a living on the streets of Vatra. Desperate, Arcady steals a powerful artifact from the bones of the Plaguebringer, the most hated person in Lumet history. Only Arcady knows the artifact’s magic holds the key to a new life among the nobles at court and a chance for revenge.

The spell connects to Everen, the last male dragon foretold to save his kind, dragging him through the Veil. Disguised as a human, Everen soon learns that to regain his true power and form and fulfil his destiny, he only needs to convince one little thief to trust him enough to bond completely–body, mind, and soul—and then kill them.

Yet the closer the two become, the greater the risk both their worlds will shatter.

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A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

Cover for A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha ShannonSamantha Shannon is an exquisite writer, and her sensational The Priory of the Orange Tree is a key part of feminist fantasy reading. In A Day of Fallen Night Shannon returns to the same world with a cast of new characters in a standalone novel set half a millennia earlier. Our reviewer described it as ‘a beautifully written epic fantasy’, and A Day of Fallen Night offers a significant amount of entertainment at nearly nine hundred pages long. A Day of Fallen Night is out now.

Read out review here.

About the book

In A Day of Fallen Night, Samantha Shannon sweeps readers back to the universe of Priory of the Orange Tree and into the lives of four women, showing us a course of events that shaped their world for generations to come.

Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose.

To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be.

The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate.

When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat.

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Fiona Denton

Fiona Denton

Fiona is a former secondary school teacher and current stay at home parent to two very wild and active children. She lives with them and her husband in the UK and can often be found on a beach paddling in the North Sea or stomping through a forest with the sprogs and hounds. She loves to read and has always enjoyed fantasy novels, particularly the very dark and twisty ones with mythical creatures.