My second post in honor of Women’s History Month is my list of top ten female heroines from books. I don’t have a “type” really of what I look for in a leading lady. These are characters that I personally identified with, or who have inspired me in some form, or I simply enjoyed them as a character. Some of the girls on this list are what made their book for me.
Here are my top ten (current) favorite heroines from books:
Lizbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Lizbeth Salander is the definition of an anti-heroine. She dresses like a punk Goth, has outrageous piercings and tattoos, hacks people’s computers for a living, and lacks social skills. But she always fights for the underdog and is a fierce advocate for women’s rights. She ignores sexuality labels and the few friends she has she is loyal to. A survivor of child abuse and rape, she never allows her past to blind her. She uses her skills to help others who can’t help themselves. Lizbeth does some things that would be considered wrong or illegal to others, but her motives are always good.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth from Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
A girl that rejects all expectation of a young lady in Victorian London society, feisty and smart Audrey Rose Wadsworth pursues forensic medicine, aiming to follow in her Uncle Jonathon’s footsteps to become a medical examiner. While other girls her age of her standing are searching for husbands, she is sticking her hands inside corpses. Audrey is independent, smart, feisty, and makes it clear to Thomas Cresswell she is his equal. Plus, she still loves pretty dresses and still enjoys other “girly” activities, even if she is not afraid of getting dirty.
Laia of Serra from the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir
Of all the girls on this list, Laia is one I identify with the most. In the beginning of An Ember in the Ashes, she does something dangerous but brave—going undercover as a slave to help rescue her brother—as well as some other awesome things, but doubts herself the whole time. Slowly, she gains more self-confidence and embraces who she is. Laia is quiet, but fierce in her own way.
Agnes Grey from Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
Written by the youngest and, in my opinion, least popular of the Bronte sisters, Anne, Agnes Grey is a kindhearted, devout Christian governess that is repeatedly abused by the families she works for. She makes her way on her own, staying true to her moral code and providing social commentary on how poorly the upper classes treated the lower classes. There are times she comes close to breaking down, but Agnes always pulls herself back up again.
Manon Blackbeak from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
When Manon was first introduced in Heir of Fire, I was not sure how I felt about her. In Queen of Shadows, I liked her and enjoyed her storyline. In Empire of Storms, I loved her and now I want a whole spin-off series dedicated to her. She’s a flawed character and, unlike Celeana/Aelin, she is morally gray. Manon has had to make some of the more painful choices other characters avoid. But her intentions are always good, even if her actions are not always the most favorable.
Shahrzad from The Wrath & the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh
Strong, beautiful, independent, fierce, and kindhearted: Shazi is the whole package. She’s stubborn and she’s got a sharp tongue that has gotten her into trouble as much as out of it. Everyone in her life, she loves and she never hesitates to put herself in danger if it means saving someone she cares for. Shazi and Khalid are also in my top ten book OTPs, but they are another couple that are amazing both together and apart.
Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A classic heroine on this list, Jane Eyre reminds me a lot of myself. She’s quiet; people don’t think too much of her. But she’s smart and stubborn. She sticks to her guns. Mr. Rochester loved her in his own way and he wanted to give her everything, only she was not going to be his side dish while his crazy wife withered away in the attic. Jane proved herself to be strong in her own silent way, determined to make it on her own during a time where women had virtually no rights.
Elizabeth Milton from Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
An underrated heroine, Elizabeth Milton is the fictional daughter of literary legend and poet John Milton, as well as the protagonist of Anne Blankman’s novel, Traitor Angels. Like most of the others on this list, she knows how to handle herself in a sword fight and hides knives in her Puritan dresses. But Elizabeth’s greatest strength is her brain. She uses her head to solve problems. She’s also curious about everything and eager to learn. Not a whole lot of young adult heroines are like that.
Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Most people would say Lizzie Bennet is their favorite Jane Austen heroine. She’s a great character, but my loyalty is to Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I identified most with her, because she is the older sister with too much responsibility on her shoulders and the sensible girl who denies herself the ability to feel or want something she thinks she can’t have. Overall, Elinor is a good friend to those around her, smart with a strong head on her shoulders, and a devoted sister.
Tandoori “Tandy” Angel from the Confessions series by James Patterson
Another severely underrated heroine, Tandy is a brilliant and sassy, but sometimes vulnerable, teenaged detective genius. While she had a rocky relationship with her wealthy parents, who basically used their five children as science experiments, she is fiercely devoted to her siblings, especially her twin brother Harry. Tandy is all about logic and exposing the truth, even if it hurts.