By CRYSTAL HERNANDEZ ‘20
There are plenty of books with strong female heroines, but, unfortunately, many tend to rely heavily on the love interest. These novels focus primarily on the heroine, and keep any potential of falling in love as secondary to the plot. All of these reads are entertaining, empowering, and great for any audience.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is a fantasy novel set in Medieval Russia about young Vasilisa. The main character grows up with expectations that she will be married off, but she is seen as untamable. As she grows older, she realizes that her ability to see the creatures of Russian folklore should not be shared, yet it may be the only thing that can save her small village. This is a story of a young girl who becomes a woman as she struggles to hold onto herself when others try to stifle her and make her into their expectations of what a woman should be.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is a story of humans and monsters following Kate Harker, human and daughter of the most powerful man in North City, and August Flynn, monster and son of the man who runs South City. While this novel has a male and female counterpart, it’s included in this list because Kate Harker is a heroine who takes charge and does things her own way. Kate wishes to be brutal, like the monsters of South City, while August is constrained by birth to be a monster. Kate’s journey to become crueler and stronger explores what it really means to be a human—and a monster.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
And I Darken by Kiersten White is an alternate history novel about a female version of Vlad the Impaler that takes place in Wallachia (Romania). Lada is the most brutal of the females listed here and is born ugly, which is a blessing since she is free to be savage and “unladylike” without the constant worry of being married off. This heroine is encouraged to be brutal and grows up fighting for what she wants and not allowing herself to be denied it because of her gender. Lada is forced to remain in the palace of her enemy with her brother as they come into contact with the son of the sultan. This novel gives off a Game of Thrones vibe in the brutality and court dynamics that come into play in the story, and it is a read that pulls no punches.
Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal is a graphic novel about female Muslim superhero Kamala Khan, who must figure out on her own how to deal with superpowers she gained unknowingly. Although it seems that she may get some guidance from some of the other heroes in the Marvel Universe, none of them stick around, leaving Kamala to navigate the difficulties and responsibilities of her powers alone. This is a quick, entertaining read and the first of seven current volumes.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Wonder Woman: Warbringer is another version of the classic Wonder Woman story that tells of Princess Diana of the Amazons’ journey, if she had saved someone who was not Steve Trevor, the U.S. intelligence officer. In this alternate version, Diana saves Alia Keralis, a girl who is descended from Helen of Troy and dubbed a “Warbringer.” This is the story of oncoming war and friendship between two girls who must fight to keep their worlds from tearing each other apart.