I wouldn’t mind being superhuman right about now. I just worked all day, and came home to an article deadline staring me in the face. I bet you know the feeling (although maybe it’s not an article deadline, maybe it’s dishes or taxes or loud younger siblings). There’s a large part of me that wishes I could turn into one of my favorite childhood heroines for a few hours (preferably post-happy ending).
But for now here are ten fictional women whose shoes I wish I could step into for a moment.
1. Daine from Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic quartet
When we meet Daine, she represses her power over animals, hiding it because she sees herself and her oddness as the cause of her family’s death. When she is finally surrounded by caring and non-prejudiced people she blossoms into her power and learns to control it, eventually gaining a better idea of her identity and place in society.
2. Addie from Gail Carson Levine’s The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Addie is a princess, a typical role for a female in a fantasy novel. But she is also terrified of many things, and convinced her older sister Meryl will always be there to protect her. When Meryl gets sick with a disease whose cure has only been foretold and her father is too cowardly to attempt the cure, Addie must use her wits and a literal bag of tricks to find her courage and battle a slew of monsters as she searches for the cure.
3. Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure
People told Alanna she couldn’t be a knight because she was a woman. But she still listened to what she wanted, and hatched her own plan to disguise herself as a boy. She got beat, both in training, and by bullies, but her response was only to work harder. She refused to back down until she had earned the respect of her tutors and peers, and learned to embrace all of her strengths.
4. Thrinn from Stuart Hill’s The Cry of the Icemark
Part of me just wanted an impressive set of titles like Thrinn Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield, Wildcat of the North, Ruler of Icemark (even after all these years I still have it memorized). Thrinn is also a princess, but she is a warrior from the outset. Her challenge is not learning bravery, like Addie, but rather diplomacy and uniting vampires, werewolves, and giant snow leopards to save her tiny country from an invading empire.
5. Persephone from Emily Whitman’s Radiant Darkness
Persephone is originally the victim of her story, kidnapped and ordered around. Whitman’s Persephone is surrounded by opulence and granted immortality but still totally human in her desires. This is a teenager who points out that an eternity spent with your mother is actually quite a drag. And she longs for love and adventure which leads her to take charge of her own fate.
6. Calwyn from Kate Constable’s Singer of All Songs
From a small temple where women control ice through singing, Calwyn befriends a stranger when he wanders into her home. She follows him across the country, making diverse friends and learning about many other types of sung magic that control the other elements as they race to stop an evil sorcerer who wants power over all the elements. Like Cry of the Icemark, this is essentially a book about coming together, but it also touches on important themes about power and its importance.
7. Katsa from Kristen Cashore’s Graceling
In a land where some people are graced, or gifted with unusual powers, Katsa is born with a gift for killing and torturing people. And one that her tyrant uncle puts to good use. This book is the story of how she comes into her own and asserts her independence, and the lessons that she learns about her own strength and talents along the way.
8. Tria from E. Rose Sabin’s A School for Sorcery
Tria has unusually strong magical powers. But she also has to go to school to learn how to use them, and unlike Hogwarts this school is unexpectedly dilapidated, and gives some students unfair advantages. When one of the school’s most powerful and privileged students begins to use his powers for evil Tria faces him in struggle against an unfair system and those far more powerful than her.
9. Cassie from K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series
Cassie is one of two female main characters in a group of ragtag teens who has been granted the ability to turn into any animal for less than two hours. In return she is tasked with saving the entire human race from aliens that want to take over their minds (a sci-fi cliché, I know, but I was too young to know it at the time). Cassie is the humbler of the two women, compared to her superhero-esque friend. But I loved her aspirations to be a vet, and the fact that she had both compassion and ferocity as she needed them.