Did someone say “Stories with happy asexual characters not in any way associated with death?”
Hi! Let’s make a list! It’ll be relatively short, but that’s partially because I’m taking a veeeeeery broad view on “associated with death”, which basically means “Does death play a big part in the ace’s life over the course of the story told herein? Yes? No, you don’t get to be on this list”. Like I said. It is veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery broad.
Due to my reading diet, the vast majority of these books are some flavour of speculative fiction and predominantly indie. There’s, like, one that’s straight-up contemporary romance and that’s it? (Like, there are more contemporary books I’ve read, but look I’m not listing you a suicidally depressed ace spec character who spends most of the book struggling with depression on a list about happy aces. IDC if he ends up happy at the end.)
City of Strife/City of Betrayal by Claudie Arseneault
CAL IS THE PUREST, LOVELIEST HAPPIEST CINNAMON ROLL IN THE WORLD. Seriously. Are you looking for happy (aro)aces not at all associated with death? YOU NEED CAL IN YOUR LIFE LIKE LAST YEAR, TRUST ME. He is the happiest, preciousest, liveliest, sweetest ace in fiction EVER.
As you’d expect from a character who’s literally written to counteract these particular ace tropes. Don’t believe me? Believe Claudie. She said so!
Also, he’s not the only aro or ace character in this trilogy (of which currently only the first 2 books have been published), so if you’re looking for a series that has more than one ace not associated with death (happiness may not occur until the end of book 3, though), you need to get on this series asap because it has them. In spades. (PUN TOTALLY NOT INTENDED BUT I’M KEEPING IT.)
These Isandor books also come with bonus “Everyone but the main antagonist is some flavour of queer”.
27 Hours by Tristina Wright
You can quibble about the death-associations with this one a little since everyone is trained to kill and Braeden does actually kill several people throughout the novel. Also happy may be a bit of a stretch by the end of it, seeing how action-packed and battle-focused it is. But, you know what? Braeden is pretty comfy with himself and being ace and… Look, I’ll honest. While I like Braeden as a character, I didn’t like the stereotype-upon-stereotype portrayal (for a variety of reasons; check back in December for my complete thoughts!), but I adore him even so. The only reason he’s not a happy death-unassociated ace is because pretty much no one in the book is either happy or death-unassociated, so it balances out for me. It may not for you and that’s totally fine.
The Goose Girl by Robin Gallica
(TW: Transphobia such as deadnaming)
Okay, so the ace-content in this one is… very subtle, and see above for additional warnings, but. Ava is absolutely 100% not dead or associated with death and she is, all in all, pretty darned happy with the way her life turns out.
A Courtship of Dragons by Becca Lusher
This is a romance story, so it is aaaaaaaaaaaall about demisexual Mastekh and allosexual Estenarven getting together and finding happiness. Again, the ace-content is very subtle in this one (which breaks my heart), but happy ace dragon! Oh. Yeah. He’s a dragon. They both are. The title is kind of a giveaway WHEN DO ACES GET TO BE ACTUAL DRAGONS, I ASK YOU?!
That said, you may very well want to read Blazing Dawn first because this is set during events in that time and presumes you know what’s going on and who everyone is.
Sea Foam and Silence by Lynn E. O’Connacht
That’s me! This is a verse novel retelling of The Little Mermaid that is an ace romance featuring one demiromantic ace and one aromantic ace. And also a homoromantic allosexual. I wrote it because… Well, basically I just wanted a happy, fluffy, gentle ace romance that was for me. So I wrote it! And I’m happy to hear readers like it for the same reasons too!
There is some death involved here, though. I mean, our little adventurous mermaid is a carnivorious sea creature that considers humans a good meal when the story begins. But also she wonders how sentient humans actually are, so she goes off to investigate and yeah. But that’s it. Otherwise she’s reeeeaaally bubbly and cheerful and her basic response to everything is, uh, think Tangled‘s Rapunzel when everything is neeeeew and awesome? Like she is that kind of happy, bubbly, sees-no-evil, cheerful, optimistic sweetness.
Bernhard, our prince, is aroace and also adorbs. He’s quiet and sweet and I would 100% give him all the hugs if he weren’t touch-averse. But he is, so don’t hug him, please. Just go sit in a nice artistic spot and let him sketch you instead.
Dreamhearth by M.C.A. Hogarth
CW: Vasiht’h’s asexuality is the cause of genetic engineering and Jahir’s sexuality is actually supersupersuperrepressed.
Technically, this is the third book in a quartet, but this is the first one that 100% does not feature Jahir or Vasiht’h being all that closely involved with death. They’re therapists. Mindline (the second book) features Jahir working in a hospital and dealing with death and Mindtouch has a strong subplot with terminally ill children, so I’ve opted to focus on this one.
I did tell you that I was taking a very broad definition of “associated with death”. That includes “books in which death plays a significant part in the narrative even if it is not directly linked to the ace characters”. I have masses and masses of fondness for the first two books because they were the first I read that features a QPR at its heart.
Dreamhearth is all about Jahir and Vasiht’h starting up their practice after graduation and building an adult life together. It is soft and sweet and gentle and it makes me very happy. There are books that focus on aces just having lives and being happy and finding ways to be part of communities. Also, Vasiht’h is sort of like Cal in that he is a super-friendly, people-loving ace character and he has ALL THE FAMILY TIES (which are a major, major factor in this book, btw) and. Just. Look. Healthy and happy family relationships for the ace characters. I want.
All Note Long by Annabeth Albert
CW: Homophobic slurs and anti-sex worker comments.
You know. In case you didn’t want to have only SFF aces. Have a contemporary romance demisexual, finding happiness and getting drawn more into society again. It is… not really my kind of book (notably: I really disliked how Michelin’s demisexuality was brought up once by Lucky and then never again by anyone), but happy ace spec character is happy and this book is 100% death-free.
Viral Airwaves by Claudie Arseneault
Henry is heteroromantic asexual! And he loves noodles and is basically like Bilbo Baggins except with a hot air balloon. The ace-content in this one is pretty light again and because it’s a story about regime-toppling and people making the world a better place through tackling corruption, the book as a whole is not free of death, but by and large not in relationship to Henry. Henry mostly just wants to live his life and eat noodles and he’s just there to help his friends.
Also Hot Air Balloon and dreams coming true.
Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari
This is a science fiction YA featuring not one but TWO ace spec leads! Also uses on page labels for one of them. I have high hopes that labels will follow for the other in book 2 because there are reasons why they don’t appear on page in this one. It is an EPIC science fiction adventure that involves time travel and creepy governments and learning to stand up for yourself and mysteries that have to be discovered.
Also no deaths at all. Well, some presumed deaths, but you’ll see what I mean when you read it. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun.
The Second Mango by Shira Glassman
Okay, you know, like with 27 Hours, Rivka is a warrior trained to fight. She’s sort-of death adjacent in that sense, but I don’t think I recall ever seeing her kill on page. (I may be misremembering.) But Rivka is a kick-ass demisexual warrior lady who becomes besties with nerdy, lesbian queen Shulamit (whom, I admit, I love even more). This is the first book in a series, featuring both Rivka and Shulamit getting a happy ending and becoming chosen family and besties. Rivka is a major part in most all of the subsequent books, so technically you get four books for the listing of one! But this is the one where her demisexuality is most prominent and also it’s the first book in the series, so I figured I’d just list this one.
Cantor for Pearls by M.C.A. Hogarth
CW: One of the four genders uses “it” as its pronoun.
This is, technically, the sequel to Thief of Song and you may want to read that first, but you don’t have to have to. This stands on its own pretty well and is basically marketed as an asexual romance because Always Falling is asexual. It’s been way too long since I read this, but I adore Always Falling and stories wherein aces get to live happy lives with a community and/or family around them to support them and, okay, so Always Falling has some family troubles that need sorting, but in the end it is happy supportive families and communities and yeah. *happy sigh*
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
This one features an asexual secondary character. Natalie doesn’t get too much screen-time, so you may want to pass on it because she’s not in the novel all that often, but she’s an engineer (who is kick-ass at maths) and she’s brave and adventurous and look. She joins Isabella Trent (then still Isabella Camherst) in travelling to foreign lands to study dragons in a pseudo!Victorian period where her options would otherwise be marriage or, uh, marriage.
Did I mention that Natalie is studying flight mechanics so she can get humans to experience flight? ’cause she is. She’s resourceful and smart and I really really really really wish we’d seen a bit more of her than we did.
Also: No death associations of any kind for Natalie. I know you’re probably not expecting there to be given that that’s the whole point of this list, but I figured I would make it absolutely clear.
The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey
A novella! Featuring an asexual MC who is already in a happy relationship at the start of the story. Theo just wants to be an awesome architect/engineer and he gets caught up in plots that are threatening everything he cares about: the city he’s studying in, his family, the kingdom the city is in, the people… Yeah, no, okay, the people is probably a given.
But he is sweet and generous and not a fighter like his sister (who is allosexual) knows how to be and he does his best, but he doesn’t do aaaaaanything even vaguely associated with death from what I recall and he is just precious and if you want happy aces, he starts off happy at the beginning, then plot happens but he still has all that made him happy, and he continues to have them (and more!) at the end. HAPPY ACES HAVING GOOD, HAPPY LIVES ARE MY JAM.
The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones
Alt!historical fantasy with an f/f ace couple! This book is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall about the SUPERSUBTLE BLINK AND YOU MISS IT romance starring a demisexual lead. Also alchemy. And political intrigue. And being various flavours of queer in a historical queer-unfriendly setting.
If you’re looking for historical fiction featuring aces (and aces getting happy endings), give it a go. It’s low fantasy, so most of the time you know it’s not actual historical fiction largely because of the setting being clearly fictional and not Actual Europe.
And there you go! 14 asexual characters who get to live happy lives and are totally (or mostly) not-death-associated in any way and certainly not in any stereotypical way. Happy reading!