Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done an entry in my series of recommendations (the last being 5 Great Books With…Dragons), but for some reason it’s been really tough writing these and meeting my (admittedly high) standards for my posts. Today though I want to recommend some great books with disability rep. My goal with this series is to do recommendations around a specific topic, and then revisit that topic later on to give additional recommendations. As I read mainly fantasy, the majority of these will be fantasy books that I recommend.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Harper is just your average teen trying to get by in Washington, DC, until she’s suddenly transported into the magical kingdom of Emberfall to break a curse and save the kingdom. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and is one of the best retellings of that classic story that I’ve read so far. The disability rep appears with the main character of Harper, who has cerebral palsy but never lets that stop her from doing the things she wants and needs to do. Her disability was a central topic of the book, but she never tried to cure her disability with magic and it was never used as a crutch – in fact, it made her stronger. I personally can’t speak as to how accurate this representation is and unfortunately I was unable to find some OwnVoices reviews, so I can’t link to any. If you’re an OwnVoices reviewer, please link your review below!
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Fantasy meets horror in the form of killer mermaids in this gripping book about a woman desperate to find answers about her missing sister. Victoria, the main character, signs up to be part of the crew on a voyage to the Mariana Trench where seven years ago another crew was lost at sea with all hands. Now, the new voyage to the Trench is to entertain viewers on the mystery of the missing crew. The amount of diversity in this book is truly impressive – multiple queer characters, physical disabilities, identical twins with hearing impairments, and a autistic person. Mira Grant is the penname for Seanan McGuire, so it should come as no surprise that the diversity is taken very seriously and never comes across as forced. This book was truly terrifying and worth the read! The prequel novella also includes plenty of diversity, including wheelchair users from the original crew.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Rick Riordan is well known for having quite a bit of representation in his works, and Percy Jackson is where it all begins. Riordan brings ancient Greek myths into modern day, making things more interesting for young readers. Even for those of us who are a little older, Percy Jackson is magical. This disability rep starts off with ADHD and dyslexia, but expands as Riordan explores more of this universe he’s created. There are characters throughout this series (and the follow up series) that tackle heavy topics and represent a multitude of people: there are deaf characters, characters from abusive homes, LGBT+ characters, characters of all kinds of faith, and racially diverse characters. In fact, you might say that Rick Riordan is at the top of the list when it comes to representation, not just disabled rep. And he doesn’t just tackle Greek mythology – he also explores Roman mythology and Norse mythology as well. His imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, also focuses on diversity. So what I’m saying is, you need to read Riordan’s books. You can thank me later.
The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
Looking for a fantasy with the classic fantasy tropes like the chosen one, mysterious races, magic, good versus evil, and political intrigue? Want something slow burn, with tons of history and world building you can get lost in for hours? This may be the series for you. You’ve got dragons, wolves, magic, elves, demons…everything you need in a good (in my opinion) fantasy book. We follow a kitchen boy who is apprenticed to a league determined to save their kingdom. He is sent on a quest to find one of the lost swords of power and face the deadliest enemies this world has ever seen. The disability comes into play with a supporting character who is an amputee. I haven’t seen any reviews that mention this particular aspect of the book, but with almost 2,000 reviews on Goodreads, it’s possible that I missed some.
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Looking for an interesting historical fantasy? Well, how about a historical fantasy of Alexander the Great as a teenager? This is a dark and gritty YA book and may have more sex and blood than the average YA fantasy. If you read this, be prepared to fall down a rabbit hole of googling everything historical that appears in this book, from the characters to the settings! There are a bunch of POVs, and one protagonist has a limp and uses a cane/crutches. Again, I struggled to find reviews for this one – especially OwnVoices reviews – so I’m not sure how accurate any of the portrayals are.