Nothing gets to me like found family. It’s the best type of cozy, filled cupcake trope candy I need in my life. I need those suffering children to find their ‘friends I would burn the world for’ type of group dynamics. Also a big fan of found family asshole flavor, just a bunch of assholes stuck with the family they’ve got. They will pull each other out of the fire if it’s the last thing they do. Reading found family as a gay person is a stereotype I’m happy to subscribe to, right alongside ‘can’t sit normally’ and ‘cancel math.’ I would like more.
Please read these found family fantasies and do not ever hesitate to comment with your recommendations. I have a never-ending TBR, and I’d like to keep it that way.
A bunch of reluctant killers stuck saving their world. And then the traumatized children become friends. This is a top-tier YA fantasy. Mostly, I struggle with YA fantasy. I find the characters are often flat and don’t have much complexity, which I need when reading. Faizal writes like the poems her world is inspired by, lush and romantic. And full of trauma babies with assassin cloaks and daggers. Faizal writes found family as a group of people living in a brutal world, where each one develops teeth and claws but ends up melting for each other.
I wish more people were as obsessed about this book as I am.
Retired heroes have to battle their enemy once again. It’s a complete recipe of goth aesthetics, morally grey characterization, teddy bear himbos, and necromancy. Once they saved their kingdom, and now they’re family for life. It starts with the protagonist trying to bring her husband back from the dead. A routine for her.
The Bone Maker has one of the most fresh friendships between women. The women in this are angry at each other. But, they push on each other to do better and fix their mistakes. They’re incredibly flawed and do not ever sink into gender expectations. They are selfish wizards with lovers and a taste for frivolity.
A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
This is precisely what I want in a book with a gay goth family. A Dowry of Blood is what I would call a cult classic in the book community. It’s one of those Indie books that gets handed around just by word of mouth. And it reminds me how freeing Indie-published books can be, especially for queer people. It is liberating in empowering in a way I didn’t expect. The found family in this isn’t an idealistic one, but one that is all about power and the abuse of power (yes, even in queer relationships). It shows the truth in the most genuine ways that those who have dealt with abuse in relationships know all too well. The way desire and obsession can blind and disguise. All the characters are raw and honest. And it’s the type of found family that ends up together because of desire, abuse, and control rather than the expected and more traditional, where it’s formed based on friendship. But in queer communities, sometimes this is the reality. Being queer means living in a world where sometimes your family doesn’t accept you, and you end up taking what is available to you. I would cut a bitch for these beautiful assholes.
The Unspoken Name goes along with A Dowry of Blood, which similarly has its found family origin by way of power and control. Larkwood writes like she’s a gay vamp in a gothic castle, and all she’s got is parchment, a quill, and a bottle of ink (which she’s dipped in blood). The Unspoken is a raw kaleidoscopic novel about a sapphic goth orc, selfish desires, and asshole wizard fathers. It is very niche, but I love it.
This might strike people as an odd recommendation as far as found family tropes go. The relationship between Csorwe and Tal is described as ‘frenemies,’ and yet when I read it, I kept thinking about my relationship with my brother (nix the daggers). So if you want a book about assholes thrown into a brutal world having to make do with a power-hungry wizard offing trauma babies on murderous escapades, this is it. It includes my favorite flavor. Asshole found family trope, extra saltings of brother/sister (in a way that I feel is most realistic to my own experience with my sibling).
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Read this if you love it when the expected trope becomes the unexpected. The friendships in Lobizona develop into found family. None of these children should have to be fighting against nationalism or corruption. The only real solace in that is each other. The world in which they are thrown into chills the ice they’ve grown around their hearts. If you love that cozy warm feeling of found family but spiced up with the ‘kids fight against nationalism’ trope, pick this one up.