Books·Gift Guide

18 Canadian books to get the science fiction and fantasy fan this holiday season

Books make great gifts for everyone! If you know someone who loves a read that takes them to another world, check out these Canadian titles.

Books make great gifts for everyone! If you know someone who loves a read that takes them to another world, check out these Canadian titles.

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

A Magic Steeped in Poison is a book by Judy I. Lin. (Feiwel & Friends, Aaron Perkins)

A Magic Steeped in Poison is a fantasy novel that features the protagonist Ning, a magician versed in the art of tea-making. After an encounter with poison tea results in the untimely death of her mother, Ning sets off to the imperial city to enter a tea-making competition and save the life of her sibling. While there, Ning encounters court politics, less-than-honourable competitors and a mysterious boy with a dangerous secret. 

Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family at a young age. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved to escape to imaginary worlds. A Magic Steeped in Poison is her debut novel.

LISTEN | Judy I.Lin on what inspired A Magic Steeped in Poison:

Judy I.Lin on what inspired A Magic Steeped in Poison.

Scales and Stardust by Meaghan McIsaac

The Bear House: Scales and Stardust is a book by Meaghan McIsaac. (Holiday House)

Scales and Stardust is the latest book in The Bear House series. While the war in the medieval world of the Bear Highen has ended, the true test has just begun for 13-year old Aster who is now the High Queen. While peace now reigns in the land, political and personal challenges threaten to end her rule as the massive Hemoth Bear, symbol of the House of the Bear, is growing more powerful. When Aster meets a young girl living in a nest of wyverns, she must learn how to keep the peace while realizing her one true destiny.

Scales and Stardust is for ages 10 to 14.

Meaghan McIsaac is a Toronto author. Her other books include UrgleUnderhand, The Boys of Fire and Ash and The Bear House.

Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk

Even Though I Knew the End is a book by C.L. Polk. (Mike Tan, Tordotcom)

Even Though I Knew the End revolves around a detective living in a Chicago filled with magic and monsters. The historical fantasy novel is about mystical powers, everlasting love and a chase for a vengeful serial killer.

C.L. Polk is a fantasy writer from Calgary. Their other books include Witchmark, Stormsong and The Midnight BargainWitchmark, their debut novel, won the 2019 World Fantasy Award for best novel. It was also nominated for a Nebula Award, Locus Award, Aurora Award and a Lambda Literary Award. The Midnight Bargain was defended by Olympian and broadcaster Rosey Edeh on Canada Reads 2021.

LISTEN | C.L. Polk reflects on what it means for their work to be recognized:

Ezra's Ghosts by Darcy Tamayose

A composite of a pink and gold, cloudy book cover and its smiling author, with round glasses and brunette hair.
Ezra's Ghosts is a book by Darcy Tamayose. (NeWest Press)

In this collection of fantastical stories, Darcy Tamayose introduces a cast of characters whose lives intersect in a quiet prairie town called Ezra. From a seeker of truth trapped in Ezra after her violent death, to the oldest man in town who came to Canada to escape imperial hardships, the stories in Ezra's Ghosts are linked by language, culture and grief.

Tamayose is a writer and graphic designer from southern Alberta. Her work includes the novel, Odori, which received the Canada-Japan Literary Award, and the YA book, Katie Be Quiet. Tamayose lives in Lethbridge, Alta.

Ezra's Ghosts was a finalist for the 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

The Sisters Sputnik by Terri Favro

The Sisters Sputnik is a book by Terri Favro. (Bradford Dunlop, ECW Press)

In a distant reality where books have disappeared, comic creator Debbie Reynolds Biondi finds herself in bed with an old lover who begs her to tell him a story. Debbie spins a futuristic tale about the Sisters Sputnik and their adventures in alternate realities. From the theft of an evil comic strip in a post-pandemic Toronto to a version of the 1950s where the sisters meet a rising star named Frank Sinatra and his girlfriend, the once-and-future Queen of England.

Terri Favro is a Toronto-based comic book writer, essayist and novelist. She is the author of Sputnik's ChildrenOnce Upon A Time In West Toronto and The Proxy BrideFavro was a finalist for the 2013 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Road of the Lost by Nafiza Azad

Illustrated book cover of half of a face of a brown woman with a bright yellow eye, surrounded by green and pale yellow leaves. Woman in white head wrap with red lipstick smiling.
Road of the Lost is a book by Nafiza Azad. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Road of the Lost is a fantasy YA novel. Croi, a brownie, lives in the Wilde Forest and her power is weak, until her guardian gives her a book about magic from the Otherworld. Soon Croi finds herself being pulled to this new place, so she embarks on a journey beyond the forest, only to be met with danger and surprises. Enchanted to forget her true identity, Croi starts to change as she travels this treacherous path to find her true self and her place in the Otherworld.

Nafiza Azad is a writer from Fiji now based in British Columbia. She is also the author of The Candle and the Flame, which was nominated for the William C. Morris Award, The Wild Ones and Road of the Lost

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Kim Fu is the author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century.
Kim Fu is the author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. (L D’Alessandro, Coach House Books)

In this collection of stories, Kim Fu turns the familiar on its head to weave tales of new worlds where strange happenings, like a girl growing wings on her legs or toy boxes that control the passage of time, are the ordinary trappings of everyday life. The stories deal with themes of death, technological consequence, guilt and sexuality and unmask the contradictions within humanity. 

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century was on the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist. 

Kim Fu is a Washington-based, Canadian-born fiction writer and poet. She has published two other works of fiction, For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and a book of poetry called How Festive the Ambulance.

LISTEN | Kim Fu discusses Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century with Shelagh Rogers:

Kim Fu talks to Shelagh Rogers about her short story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century.

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

A composite of portrait of a Black woman with long black hair smiles at the camera beside an illustrated book cover with a blue woman surrounded by flames and the words Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye.
Blood Scion is a YA book by Deborah Falaye. (HarperTeen, John Bregar)

In the YA fantasy novel Blood Scion, a teen named Sloane discovers she is a superpowered Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods. But when she is forced to join the army under a brutal warlord, Sloane realizes she has an opportunity to use her magical powers to defeat the enemy from within.

Deborah Falaye is a Nigerian Canadian YA author based in Toronto. She grew up in Lagos, where she spent her time devouring African literature, pestering her grandma for folktales and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night. Blood Scion is her debut novel.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (Del Rey)

The latest novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is set in 19th-century Mexico and has elements of the supernatural as it reimagines the classic work The Island of Doctor Moreau. Carlota Moreau is a young woman who lives in an estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. Carlota's father is the eccentric Doctor Moreau, a man whose scientific experiments have created the hybrids — part human, part animal monstrosities. Living in the jungle, Carlota is caught up in this world filled with secrets and horror. 

Born and raised in Mexico, Moreno-Garcia is the B.C. author of novels Signal to NoiseGods of Jade and ShadowUntamed ShoreThe Beautiful Ones and Velvet was the Night. She is also a critic and has edited science fiction anthologies. 

LISTEN | Silvia Moreno-Garcia discusses The Daughter of Doctor Moreau with Shelagh Rogers:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia talks to Shelagh Rogers about her novel, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau0).

Blood Like Fate by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Fate is a book by Liselle Sambury. (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Stuart W.)

In the sequel to the YA novel Blood Like Magic, Voya Thomas must bring her fractured witch community together and fight to save them from a deadly future. Voya is determined to do whatever it takes, including bringing down the boy she loves if he proves to be the mastermind behind the coming destruction. 

Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian Canadian YA writer and blogger. Her debut novel, Blood Like Magic, was on the shortlist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary award for young people's literature — text

Shifting Earth by Cecil Castellucci, Flavia Biondi & Fabiana Mascolo

Shifting Earth is a graphic novel by Cecil Castellucci, centre, Flavia Biondi, right, and Fabiana Mascolo. (Berger Books)

In Shifting Earth, botanist Dr. Maeve Lindholm finds herself stranded on a strange parallel Earth after a freak particle storm, with little hope of getting home. Her home world is on the brink of ecological disaster, but in this parallel universe nature overshadows science, children are rare and humans pay an unthinkable price when they have been deemed useless. 

Cecil Castellucci is an award-winning American-born Canadian YA novelist, musician and director. Her other books include Shade, Odd Duck and Star Wars Moving Target. She has also written Batgirl for DC Comics. 

Flavia Biondi is an Italian artist and scriptwriter. Her other works include La generazione (Generations) and La giusta mezura (Just Enough).

Fabiana Mascolo is a comic book artist based in Rome.

LISTEN | Why Cecil Castellucci tackled climate change in a comic:

Cecil Castellucci is a bestselling YA author who splits her time between Montreal and Los Angeles. Her latest graphic novel takes on a timely challenge – climate change. Shifting Earth is about a botanist in the near future, collecting seeds from a climate-ravaged earth. She then lands in a parallel universe that is green and has everything they need, but there are still difficult choices to be made. Cecil Castelucci discusses writing about hope and inspiring a path toward climate action.

Until the Last of Me by Sylvain Neuvel

Until the Last of Me is a book by by Sylvain Neuvel. (Raincoast Books, Rupert Lamontagne)

For generations, Mia's family has helped shape human history by following the First Rule: Always run, never fight. Now the year is 1968 and Mia is on the cusp of destiny, poised to send the first humans into space. With her adversary at her heels and the future of the planet at stake, obeying the First Rule isn't an option. For the first time in 100 generations, Mia's family will have to stand their ground risking their bloodline and the future of the human race. 

Sylvain Neuvel is a writer, linguist and translator from Montreal. He is also the author of the novels Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods, Only Human and The Test.

Buffalo is the New Buffalo by Chelsea Vowel

Buffalo Is the New Buffalo is a book by Chelsea Vowel.
Buffalo Is the New Buffalo is a book by Chelsea Vowel. (Zachary Ayotte, Arsenal Pulp Press)

In this short story collection, Chelsea Vowel explores science fiction tropes through a Métis lens. From a rougarou (shapeshifter) in the 19th century trying to solve a murder in her community to a Métis man who's gored by a radioactive bison and gains super strength, these stories seek to understand the impact of colonization, remove its psychological baggage and recover ancestral traditions. 

Buffalo is the New Buffalo explores Indigenous existence and resistance and rewrites our shared history.

Chelsea Vowel is a Métis writer and educator whose work focuses on language, gender identity and cultural resurgence. Her other novels include Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canadawhich addresses stereotypes and assumptions about Indigenous issues and offers insight into the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. She also contributed to the graphic novel, This Placewhich was adapted into a 10-episode podcast for CBC Books.

LISTEN | Chelsea Vowel discusses Buffalo is the New Buffalo:

Chelsea Vowel talks to Shelagh Rogers about her new book, Buffalo is the new Buffalo.

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay

A composite photo of a green book cover featuring a wave in the ocean and the book's author, an older man with short hair looking straight at the camera.
All the Seas of the World is a book by Guy Gavriel Kay. (Viking Canada, Ted Davis)

All the Seas of the World is a historical fantasy tale of treachery, destiny, memory and power. Two people are set on an epic mission to destroy the balance of power in a region. What happens next is an atmospheric story of fate, vengeance and political intrigue. 

Guy Gavriel Kay has published 13 novels and is a familiar name on bestseller lists around the globe. His Fionavar Tapestry fantasy series has sold over a million copies worldwide since being published in the 1980s and has been optioned by the Canadian production company behind the hit series Orphan Black. Some of Kay's other titles include Children of Earth and SkyTigana and River of Stars. In 2014, he was appointed to the Order of Canada.

LISTEN | Guy Gavriel Kay takes The Next Chapter's Proust Questionnaire:

Guy Gavriel Kay takes TNC's Proust questionnaire

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara

The Immortal King Rao is a novel by Vauhini Vara. (WW Norton, Andrew Altschul)

In the novel The Immortal King Rao, a precocious child is born into a family of Dalit coconut farmers in 1950s India. King Rao will grow up to be the most accomplished tech CEO in the world and, eventually, the leader of a global, corporate-led government. In a future in which the world is run by the Board of Corporations, King's daughter, Athena, reckons with his legacy — literally, for he has given her access to his memories, among other questionable gifts.

Vauhini Vara is an American Canadian writer and technology reporter. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an O. Henry Prize winner.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility is a book by Emily St. John Mandel. (Sarah Shatz, HarperCollins Canada)

Sea of Tranquility unfurls a story about humanity across centuries and space. From Vancouver Island in 1912 to a colony on the moon 500 years later, Sea of Tranquility is a novel about time travel and metaphysics. When detective Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended — from an exiled son driven mad by beauty and mystery in a Canadian forest to a writer living in a colony on the moon as a pandemic ravages Earth. Through his work, Gaspery has the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

Emily St. John Mandel is a bestselling Canadian author currently based in New York. Her other novels include The Glass Hotelwhich was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and selected by President Barack Obama as a favourite book of 2020; and Station Elevena bestseller adapted for HBO and a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

LISTEN | Emily St. John Mandel discusses Sea of Tranquility:

Canadian writer Emily St. John Mandel was described as a prophetic visionary during the pandemic, for writing about a flu-like illness that shut down the world in her 2014 novel Station Eleven. The book surged in popularity during the actual pandemic and was adapted into an acclaimed television series. Her 2020 book, The Glass Hotel, also earned raves – Barack Obama listed it as one of his favourites of the year. In her much-anticipated follow-up, Sea of Tranquility, Mandel is once again revisiting life during global crisis – and yes, that includes pandemics. She sits down with Piya Chattopadhyay to talk about the book, which takes readers on a journey through time travel, moon colonies, and big questions like whether we're all living in one big simulation.

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

Jade Legacy is a fantasy novel by Fonda Lee. (Feiwel & Friends,

Jade Legacy is the third instalment in the Green Bone Saga, which also includes Jade War and Jade City. The novel is set in a magical world where clans of warriors called Green Bones battle over control of the source of their supernatural abilities: jade. A clan of Green Bones named the Kauls have to fight off their enemies in a deadly struggle to preserve their ancient ways. 

Fonda Lee is a Canadian American science fiction and fantasy writer. Lee is a three-time Aurora Award winner, including best novel for Jade City and best YA novel for Exo. Jade City also won the World Fantasy Award in 2018.

LISTEN | Fonda Lee on The Green Bone Saga:

Into the Broken Lands by Tanya Huff

Into the Broken Lands is a book by Tanya Huff. (DAW,

In the fantasy novel Into the Broken Lands, the Heirs of Marsan have no choice but to enter the Broken Lands in order to save their community. They must trust their lives and the lives of everyone they protect to someone who shouldn't exist and can't be controlled. Shattered by mage wars, the Broken Lands will test the bonds of family, friendship, strength and sanity.

Tanya Huff is a fantasy author from Nova Scotia. Her Blood Books series, featuring detective Vicki Nelson, was adapted into the television show Blood Ties, which aired on CBC-TV and on Lifetime in the U.S.

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