From YA to Adult SFF: A Primer

Past the appropriate age for thirsting after sixteen- and seventeen-year-old princes / thieves / pirates / soldiers / all of the above? Never fear! I’ve compiled a list of (mostly) SFF about characters past puberty with a similar vividness of characterization, personal stakes, and relatively low worldbuilding ‘barriers to entry’ that may appeal to those accustomed to such narrative conventions in YA. This list is sorted by length (novel, novella, short story) and not much else, and will be sporadically updated.

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

  • m/m cinnamon roll x could actually kill you
  • absolutely exquisite prose
  • “what’s in a legacy”
  • tumblr aesthetic catnip
  • there’s a reason everyone feral-screams when this book is mentioned

The Likeness – Tana French

  • this is not strictly SFF/H (it’s mystery with an unlikely twist) but it’s also one of my all-time favorite books
  • lush, gorgeous prose, Irish countryside manor house, dark academia, found family
  • ravages of late-stage capitalism

The Once and Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow

  • suffragettes, but witches!
  • the author was a historian, so Easter eggs
  • sharp, beautiful writing (spot a trend, do you?)
  • explores consequences of untrammeled fury (/conventional fictional badassery) in light of marginalization
  • James Juniper is a Kaz Brekker reference, fight me

Gideon the Ninth / Harrow the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

  • space lesbian necromancers!!
  • starts slow, escalates to high angst on the level of Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom
  • HtN, as I reviewed on twitter, is “like having your brain sucked out through your skull with a plastic straw and then blown back in in little boba-sized gobbets and then being beaten to a pulp from the inside, 11 out of 5 stars”
  • Bones, More Bones, and Even More Bones with Dr. Skelebone
  • soup

For the Wolf – Hannah Whitten

  • Shades of Magic x Wilder Girls x if reylo had been done right
  • Pitched as “two sisters and a forest himbo”
  • The trees have teeth!
  • Religion angst!

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan (2021)

  • Mulan x The Song of Achilles?!?!
  • Can I have this one now, please


This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

  • f/f epistolary enemies-to-lovers
  • one of those stories you can’t find the words to encapsulate because any sort of descriptor would mar its perfection
  • I read this book eight times in the year and a half since it came out
  • and it won all the awards so I was right

The Murderbot Diaries – Martha Wells (6 novellas, one full-length novel so far)

  • grumpy in denial about having a heart of gold.
  • also the gap moe
  • low-key existential despair
  • major tol / smol dynamic (starts in 2nd novella)
  • cyborg feels

SHORT STORIES (read for free!):

Have any additional suggestions? Feel free to comment below!

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