I’ve said it before, but characters are probably the most important aspect of a book for me. That doesn’t mean that the world-building, the plot and the writing don’t count, of course, but for me to really fall in love with a novel, I need to care about the players involved, I need for them to be complex and engaging, you know? So today I’m sharing my favorite heroines from SFF novels, whether they’re adult or young-adult.
They’re different, but every one of them is special to me in her own way and most of all, they’re allowed to be messy sometimes (when they’re not anti-heroines altogether) : indeed throughout the years in the book community, I’ve felt more and more annoyed by the way many readers will forgive heroes’ faults but expect women to be perfect, to be entirely likeable – and it’s especially true for women of color. I used to have double standards when it comes to heroes and heroines, too, if I’m being honest, and I hate that I did. I’m grateful for all the wonderful people who helped me work on my internalized misogyny over the years.
But without waiting more, here are my favorite heroines from SFF fiction, in no particular order. When books are part of a series, I’ve chosen the one in which I fell in love with them – most of the time it’s the first book, but in three occasions – The Rose Society, The Queen of Attolia and Dark Triumph, it happened during the second novel of the series. Anyway – I hope you’ll get to meet these fantastic women if that’s not the case already!
- Bree from Legendborn by Tracy Deonn | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Adelina from The Rose Society by Marie Lu | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Elisabeth from Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Irene from The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Hitomi from Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Sybella from Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Juliette from These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Vasya from The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden | Adult Fantasy
- Essun from The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin | Adult Science-Fiction (or it it Fantasy? I’m never sure)
- Shae from Jade City by Fonda Lee | Adult Fantasy
- Rin from The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang | Adult Fantasy
- Xiala from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse | Adult Fantasy
- Zahra from The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Laila from The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi | Young-Adult Fantasy
- Mehr from Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri | Adult Fantasy
- Mahit from A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine | Adult Science-Fiction