Book Recs: Novellas

We all have those days where you have an oh shit moment and realise you’re behind on your Goodreads challenge and what are you going to do??? Well. I have for you here a guaranteed way of boosting your numbers. Read loads of novellas! (Although, to be honest, I don’t really know what constitutes a “novella” and what’s a short story or even a novelette, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.) Anyway, these are some of the best ones I’ve read (and they’re all gay, of course).

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Penhallow Amid Passing Things

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Iona Datt Sharma
Goodreads
Rep: wlw mcs

Magic, in common with all things, is passing from this world. In a coastal village in eighteenth-century Cornwall, Penhallow — an honourable smuggler par excellence — has more pressing problems. One of her boys has just been hauled up before the magistrates. A mysterious King’s messenger has arrived from London. Something nasty — and possibly magical — is afoot in the smugglers’ caves beneath water.

And then there’s Trevelyan, the town’s austere, beautiful Revenue officer…

Why Should I Read It?

Classic enemies to lovers romance with smugglers and the Revenue, but the twist is they’re both women (who needs men amirite). And there’s a quiet overlay of magic in the tale too.

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Holly & Oak

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R. Cooper
Goodreads
Rep: gay mc & li

Once a year, the town of Ravenscroft celebrates the winter solstice by watching the Oak King symbolically slay the Holly King to ensure the death of winter. To most people, it’s a pagan ritual that has lost all meaning in the modern world, harmless fun during the week of Christmas. To the coven who founded the town, it’s a magic so important they entrusted it to the two strongest witches in generations. 

Will Battle and Chester Sibley are opposites in every way, or so Ravenscroft residents insist. Quiet, polite Will is the town’s beloved adopted son, popular and admired. Defiant, outspoken Chester is disliked and avoided despite being a direct descendant of the town’s founders. It’s no wonder Will is the embodiment of spring and life as the Oak King and Chester was given the cold, dark Season of Holly. No one in town seems to realize their nice, well-mannered Oak King has iron at his core and their fearsome Holly King only wants to make people happy. Perhaps that’s also why not even the other witches suspect that Chester has been in love with Will for almost his entire life. 

That’s how Chester wants it. He might dream of Will, but he’s learned to keep his dreams to himself. The trouble is Will. For all that he smiles and nods, Will has started quietly rebelling against both the town and the coven. With only days until the winter solstice, he issues Chester a challenge—to finally ask for what he wants. If Chester tells the truth, he risks losing Will and upsetting the ritual that has made the town prosperous. But there is more between them than magic, no matter how powerful or ancient, and Chester would do anything for Will, even, just maybe, coming in from the cold.

Why Should I Read It?

Another enemies (though more like rivals) to lovers novella here. In this one, each character represents a King who has to be sacrificed to welcome in the seasons and keep the town prosperous. It’s just a lovely and soft tale with some unrequited love angst to keep you going.

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Prom and Other Hazards

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Jamie Sullivan
Goodreads
Rep: lesbian mc (ownvoices), bi li

Frankly, prom is a ridiculous concept. People at school treat it like its a test run for a wedding, complete with ‘promposals’. That’s not even mentioning the dresses, which look like Disney vomited tulle and sparkles onto the nearest mannequin. Sam wants nothing to do with it.

Except for the tiny fact that she’s been in love with her best friend Tash since they were ten years old, and Tash dreams of a perfect, romantic prom. Sam had given up hope, until she spotted The Suit in a shop window. Sleek, androgynous, and flat out cool—but also way out of Sam’s price range.

But if she can earn the money for the suit, then surely the suit is all she needs to finally admit how she feels and see they both enjoy the perfect prom.

Why Should I Read It?

You know that unique kind of pining that comes from a friends to lovers story? Well this has plenty of that. It’s about a girl who starts working in a dress shop to save up money to buy a suit to go to prom. And it has the softest most perfect ending ever.

inbtwn

Avi Cantor Has Six Months To Live

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Sacha Lamb
Goodreads
Rep: gay trans mcs (ownvoices)

Avi comes across these foreboding words scrawled on the bathroom mirror, but what do they mean? Is this a curse, a prediction, or a threat from Avi’s emboldened bullies? And how to they know his real name when he hasn’t even told his mother yet? 

Then there is Ian—the cool new guy at school, who is suddenly paying attention to Avi. Ian is just like Avi, but he is also all sunshine, optimism, and magic. All the things that Avi doesn’t know how to deal with…yet. 

Why Should I Read It?

Listen, I’m kinda running out of new things to say about why you should read these books, but trust me on this one. You want to read it.

inbtwn

That Could Be Enough

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Alyssa Cole
Goodreads
Rep: lesbian mcs, black mcs (ownvoices)

TWs: period typical racism

Mercy Alston knows the best thing to do with pesky feelings like “love” and “hope”: avoid them at all cost. Serving as a maid to Eliza Hamilton, and an assistant in the woman’s stubborn desire to preserve her late husband’s legacy, has driven that point home for Mercy—as have her own previous heartbreaks. 

When Andromeda Stiel shows up at Hamilton Grange for an interview in her grandfather’s stead, Mercy’s resolution to live a quiet, pain-free life is tested by the beautiful, flirtatious, and entirely overwhelming dressmaker. 

Andromeda has staid Mercy reconsidering her worldview, but neither is prepared for love—or for what happens when it’s not enough.

Why Should I Read It?

I recced this before and I’ll rec it again, because who doesn’t love a good historical f/f story that has a happy ending. No, really, if you don’t, it’s probably because you haven’t read this one yet.

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Have You Seen Me

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Katherine Scott Nelson
Goodreads
Repbi mcs

Chris and Vyv have always been close — as the only two ‘weird’ kids in their small Midwestern town, they’ve often depended on each other to survive. But their friendship will be put to the test when Vyv runs away and continues to communicate with Chris in secret. All summer, as the search for Vyv mounts, Chris tries to avoid the pressure by working for Albert, an off-the-grid survivalist writer building an anarchist compound from an abandoned house and barn. But as Albert’s plans for the future grow more apocalyptic, and Vyv’s emails gradually become more terrifying, Chris will face the complete upheaval of everything he’s ever known.

Why Should I Read It?

Well, firstly, you can read it for free (or, when I read it you could, so I assume you still can). And there are not one, but two bi characters in this. Plus, if you don’t really feel like romance, then there’s none in this one (as far as I remember).

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Yellow Rose

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Yoshiya Nobuko
Goodreads
Rep: Japanese wlw mcs

Yoshiya Nobuko’s short-story series Flower Stories (Hana monogatari) is widely known for launching the genre of shōjo fiction–stories expressly written for girls and young women. For the first time in English, one of the most ardent and influential of the collection, “Yellow Rose,” is published with a translator’s introduction, era-specific design and list of further readings. It will appeal to all readers of fine fiction, especially those with an interest in women’s writings, genre fiction, youth culture, queer writings, and twentieth-century modernist styles.

Why Should I Read It?

It’s always nice to read classic lit where LGBT characters get their own stories. And this one is a soft lesbian romance from Japan. Of course, in true early 20th century style, we can’t get a happy ending, but it’s a sweet novella nonetheless.

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Lies and Reverie

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Camilla Quinn
Goodreads
Rep: lesbian mcs, gay side character

Liddy spends the majority of her life minding her father’s shop and trying to keep her sister, Caroline, out of trouble. What little time she has to herself is spent largely in daydreams about kissing beautiful princesses. 

Then her sister catches the eye of a nobleman, and the sisters are thrust directly into the tangled world of upper class society. Liddy crosses paths with the beautiful, compelling Lady Sophia Sinclair, the most powerful woman in Dunnshire.

But what chance would a poor shop girl ever have with a real life princess?

Why Should I Read It?

Imagine Jane Austen, but with lesbians, and that’ll give you something approaching what this story is like. It’s less a romance so much as the beginning of a romance, but still so good.

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Witch, Cat & Cobb

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J. K. Pendragon
Goodreads
Rep: lesbian mcs, trans mcs

Destined for an arranged marriage she wants nothing to do with, Princess Breanwynne decides that the only option for escape is to run away. Upon the announcement of this plan, her trusted pet cat reveals he can talk by asking that she take him along. Listening to his suggestion to venture into the lair of the Swamp Witch proves to be a very bad idea, but Breanwynne would rather face a witch any day than be forced to marry a prince.

Why Should I Read It?

A talking cat. A talking cat. What more convincing do you need? Also, a princess running away from an arranged marriage and trans characters. But like. A talking cat!

inbtwn

Super Bass

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Kai Ashante Wilson
Goodreads
Rep: mlm mcs, black mcs

Gian returns to Sea-john from the Kingdom’s wars certain that he has skills beyond killing, death and destruction. He needs to prove to himself that love is just as strong, if not stronger, than his hate. The Summer King gives him this opportunity.

 

Why Should I Read It?

Oh god how do you even describe this one. It’s a really nice, short (and gentle) fantasy story. It’s also one of those ones that works really well this short (you know how sometimes, there’s almost too much plot to a novella? Well, not in this one).

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I hope you’ve found something to read here! In writing this post, I did realise that actually I have even more I could add, so there’ll probably end up being a part two at some point. In the meantime, though, what are some of your favourite novellas?charlotte

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