Happy Pride! June is such an important month to honour, learn, and celebrate both LGBTQ+ and/or Indigenous peoples, and however those identities intersect. As a queer person and library staff member, the library meant the world to me as a kid, and still does.
As a quiet little kid who was often bullied and seemed to have feral tendencies including almost exclusively eating chocolate chip Eggos, speaking very little, and devouring multiple novels in a week, the library was always a safe haven for me. I didn’t have the language to describe my identity when I was a kid, but I always felt different and knew I could always get some peace in the stacks of my school or local public library. I was a volunteer library helper and often chose to spend my recesses helping with shelving (I regret nothing).
Fast forward to now working in my dream role in the Children’s and Borrowers’ Services Departments. Every time I see LGBTQ+ books, movies, programs, marketing, and so much more at libraries, it makes me feel so hopeful for kids and youth to have more fun, inclusive, and supportive childhoods, as all children deserve. I was so lucky to have support from amazing librarians throughout my life, and their impact on so many kids and youth can be massive. I feel so lucky to hopefully be that person for kids and youth one day, too.
Rambling confessional introduction aside, I would like to bring your attention to a wonderful YA debut sugary sweet fantasy-romance novel I devoured recently: The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon. The Witch King follows our feisty protagonist Wyatt, a runaway trans teenage witch who became an outcast after a horrible accident in their magical homeland of Asalin and fled to Earth. In Asalin, faeries are the elite and witches are considered to be less than, as they have different powers and capabilities.
As a child, Wyatt befriends faerie prince and dreamboat Emyr, and they become extremely close. Emyr is bonded to Wyatt in a powerful unbreakable way that faeries can do in this world where it’s like meeting a soulmate. They were betrothed, and our story begins where Emyr has finally tracked down Wyatt in the human world, dead set on bringing Wyatt back to Asalin so they can get married. Hijinks, court intrigue, class revolution, twists, and romance inevitably ensue.
This funny, fast paced and, at the same time, dark fantasy was delightful to read. The faerie world is vivid, and Wyatt being brought against his will, gets up to no good in an attempt to get back to Earth. I deeply enjoyed seeing a trans character being allowed to be a prankster, to be furious, and to be messy. He, and all characters in this book, are not perfect, but he and other queer and/or trans characters are given a wide breadth of experiences and emotions that trans characters often aren’t afforded, and the story doesn’t revolve around how everyone is freaking out that he’s trans. It isn’t unspoken and questions are asked, but it isn’t the central plotline, which is just always super refreshing and affirming. As well, romance is a huge part of this novel which was very fun, but the love between friends and family are also so honest and central: the relationship between Wyatt and his best friend/chosen sibling Briar is especially poignant.
Check out The Witch King! I don’t typically read YA (except extremely large stacks of manga lately), but this was just a perfect escapist romp. If you have any interest in fantasy, romance, and class revolutions, give this one a shot!
And remember, WPL is still doing amazing surprise bundles for all ages where you can request books and DVDs by and about LGBTQ+ and/or Indigenous folks, too!
— Jackie M.