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21 Asian-Inspired Fantasy Books To Dive Right Into

This post is all about the best Asian-inspired fantasy books written by Asian authors.

Growing up and being Asian, I never really read any books written by Asian authors.

Most of the time, it was because POC representation was not as prominent in the publishing industry. I’m glad to see more Asian authors get recognition now.

Today, some of my favourite books are by Asian authors with asian characters, plots and more.

On this list you’ll find books inspired by Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other cultures. The books on this list span from the young adult to adult age range.

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21 Best Asian-Inspired Fantasy Books

Here are the best Asian-inspired fantasy books to add to your list:

1. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Inspired by China’s military history, The Poppy War is the first book in a fantasy trilogy filled with treachery and magic.

Rin is a dark-skinned peasant girl who has obtained admission into an elite military school.

Targeted by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal magical power.

2. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the first book in a young adult fantasy duology inspired by Chinese mythology.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality.

But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

I really enjoyed reading this book, growing up i’ve heard stories about the moon and mid-autumn festival. Xingyin is a strong female lead and her two love interests will definitely peak your interest.

Read More: Review: Daughter of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

3. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

If you are looking for a Japanese-inspired fantasy series, you will enjoy Shadow of the Fox.

The first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy, this high-stakes story follows Yumeko, a half-kitsune who is forced to flee her home after demons kill her adoptive family, carrying with her one part of an ancient magical scroll.

Fate thrusts her into the path of mysterious samurai Kage Tatsumi, who is Yumeko’s best hope for survival.

4. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane is a Chinese-inspired young adult fantasy standalone novel.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom.

Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer, whose magic has been outlawed.

5. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun is the first book in an adult historical fantasy duology.

Set in China in the 1300s, this historical fantasy novel follows a girl who takes her brother’s identity after he dies and enters a monastery.

She’ll do anything it takes to stay alive and eventually take on her brother’s abandoned greatness.

6. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Wicked Fox is a young adult fantasy romance book that is set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret: she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest.

Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy.

7. Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City is the first book in an Asian-inspired adult fantasy trilogy.

Set in a frenetic Asian-inspired fantasy metropolis, this sweeping tale follows four siblings battling rival clans for honor and power.

This fast-paced series has been compared to classic gangster films with its gritty setting and action-packed plot.

8. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn is the first book in a YA fantasy duology that has been described as Project Runway meets Mulan.

In this story, a teenage girl named Maia poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

9. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a standalone fantasy novel that is an enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale The Tale of Shim Cheong.

This story follows a girl named Mina, who is swept away to the magical Spirit Realm after making a big sacrifice.

There, she must seek out the Sea God and wake him from his enchanted sleep in order to stop the storms that have been ravaging her homeland.

10. The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

The Sword of Kaigen is the first book in an Asian-inspired epic fantasy series. Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house.

Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country.

Before long, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

11. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist is the first book in a young adult fantasy duology that is set in feudal Japan.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place: she is to be married off in a political alliance.

But when she narrowly escapes an assassination attempt by a dangerous gang known as the Black Clan, she dresses as a peasant boy, and sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back.

12. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Iron Widow is a young adult novel that blends fantasy, Chinese history, and science fiction.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall.

When eighteen-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s with the sole mission to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death.

13. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire is the first book in an Asian-inspired YA fantasy trilogy. Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara.

Taken to the palace because of her legendary beauty, she trains with eight other girls to become a king’s consort.

But her forbidden romance with another one of the consorts becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life.

14. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights is the first book in a young adult fantasy duology set in the glittering world of Shanghai in the 1920s.

Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, it follows two members of rival gangs, who must set aside their family’s feud and work together to stop a dangerous threat from destroying both their families and the city itself.

15. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is a book that has been described as a retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White in an Asian-inspired fantasy world.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful.

The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

16. A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy Lin

A Magic Steeped in Poison is the first book in a young adult fantasy duology. For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her fault.

She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her – that now threatens to also take her sister.

To save her, Nin must travel to the imperial city to compete to become the master of the ancient and magical art of tea-making, who will receive a favor from the princess.

17. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes is one of the best ya fantasy Asian books.

This young adult novel set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world about the princess Shiori.

The sorceress Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori must find a way to save her brothers and herself. If you’ve read this book, you might want to checkout some other books like Six Crimson Cranes.

Read More: Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

18. Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan

Jade Fire Gold is described as a tribute to the Xianxia genre, a Chinese fantasy genre that that focuses on characters who undergo meditation and training to become transcendental beings.

This story follows Altan and Ahn, two very different characters whose paths cross in an empire on the brink of war.

19. The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven is the first book in an adult epic fantasy series.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as infants.

Now, a rebellion is growing, led by the Machinists. Unwilling to continue as a pawn in their mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves everything she knows behind and falls in with the rebels.

Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond they share with their twin?

20. Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Empress of All Seasons is an Asian-inspired fantasy novel about Mari, who has spent a lifetime training to become empress.

Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret.

Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit.

21. The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Finally on this list of Asian-inspired fantasy books is The Keeper of Night.

This young adult historical fantasy book follows Ren, half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami.

She has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers.

Best Asian-Inspired Fantasy Books

These are the best Asian-inspired fantasy books to add to your reading list.

Some of these are fantasy books set in Asia, while others take place in Asian-inspired fantasy worlds. All of these books are written by female authors too.

Get these Asian-inspired fantasy books and more here:

Are there any other Asian-inspired fantasy books I should know about? Leave a comment for me below!

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