Stuck for something to read and fancy something a little feisty? This list introduces some of the best female ass-kickers in the fantasy universe.
1. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss slays stereotypes as well as squirrels when she takes on the role of provider and protector of her family once her father dies. She steps in to save her sister when Prim’s name is called in the Reaping (the annual lottery that pits children in a fight to the death, on telly), and is cunning enough to beat the organisers at their own game. Despite two men having the hots for our heroine, Katniss is preoccupied with the pressing matters – namely staying alive – which is a refreshing change from the norm.
Pick up The Hunger Games for £3.86 from Amazon.co.uk
2. Saba from Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Saba has to survive in a dystopian wasteland that’s constantly ravaged by sandstorms, but the reason she makes the grade is her family loyalty. When her brother Lugh is captured in the middle of a storm by four cloaked horsemen, she embarks on an epic quest to find him. The journey is also one of self-discovery, as Saba discovers she has the power to topple a corrupt society.
Pick up Blood Red Road for £5.99 from Amazon.co.uk
3. Mercy Thompson in Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Don’t let the cover put you off… the cringey drawing is just trying to convey that Mercy Thompson is a part-Native American mechanic rather than a high school student. She’s also a shape-shifter who can transform into a coyote and her strong, independent nature deters her from shacking up with the alpha of the werewolf pack. If she agreed to be his mate she’d become an inferior member of the pack, which is also a neat metaphor for potentially losing control of your destiny when you’re in love.
Pick up Moon Called for £5.99 from Amazon.co.uk
4. Sookie Stackhouse from Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Disappointing final books aside, Sookie Stackhouse’s journey from faith-abiding telepathic barmaid to fangbanger to fairy, in a society that acknowledged the existence of vampires, was gripping. There were barely five minutes when there wasn’t someone looking to kill her, but Sookie proved she could protect herself time and time again (and make peace with God later). We’ve lost count of the bodies buried in her backyard, making for fast-paced and entertaining reading.
Pick up Dead Until Dark for £5.19 from Amazon.co.uk
5. Zoe from The Shambling Guide To New York City by Mur Lafferty
Zoe is a witty, down-to-earth young woman who’s moved to the city to start afresh. When an interview at a new publishing company unveils the existence of monsters, she takes the news surprisingly well and determinedly fends off the advances of an succubus, the hungry looks of a zombie and a mischievous water sprite in her bid to complete her guide to New York’s underbelly of coterie. There is a sequel, The Ghost Train To New Orleans, coming in 2014 but this is a rare fantasy book that can be enjoyed as a standalone.
Pick up The Shambling Guide To New York City for £5.75 from Amazon.co.uk
6. Anita Blake from Guilty Pleasures by Laurrell K Hamilton
Anita The Vampire Slayer. It doesn’t have the same ring as Buffy, but she’s a bloodsucker buster in her own right and a necromancer. Anita’s actually part of an anti-paranormal law enforcement team, using her skills as a necromancer to raise zombies and settle legal cases. She has plenty of endearing quirks, like her collection of toy Penguins and the fact she’s pretty terrified of vampires, but the guns and knives will shut up anyone who dares make fun of her.
Pick up Guilty Pleasures for £7.19 from Amazon.co.uk
7. Rachel Morgan from Dead Witch Walking series by Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan is a witch-cum-bounty hunter who goes after supernatural crim. She’s definitely born of the Buffy era of leather pants, roundhouse kicks and witty banter, and lives in a world where non-human creatures are out of the closet (following a genetically engineered tomato that killed half the world’s population). Rachel’s a likeable heroine with good instincts, supernatural powers she doesn’t fully understand, and has a well-rounded supporting cast (including a fanged flatmate who’s a little bloodlusty).
Pick up Dead Witch Walking for £5.24 from Amazon.co.uk
8. Cat from Halfway To The Grave by Jeaniene Frost
For those who miss the tempestuous but seriously sexy Buffy/Spike relationship – this series is for you. It revolves around Cat, a half-vamp half-human with all the super strength and slaying capability of Miss Summers. Cat’s been dusting vamps since she was 16 in the hope that she’ll find her father, until she’s captured by the bleach blonde, British vamp Bones and they strike up an uneasy alliance, since he slays for fun and money. The similarities border on fan fic but so long as you don’t mind, it’s a harmless (and steamy) summer read.
Pick up Halfway To The Grave for £5.99 from Amazon.co.uk
9. Alexia Tarabotti from Soulless by Gail Carriger
Alexia stands out in Victorian London for being a half-Italian, 20-something spinster who’s also Soulless. It means any vamp or werewolf that comes into contact with her is immediately zapped of all their powers, which is handy when she starts dating the Alpha werewolf of the Woolsey castle pack. There’s lots to like about this incredibly inventive universe aside from its no-nonsense heroine, as author Gail Carriger moulds history to suit her steampunk-meets-Carry On saga. Vamps were infuential in politics and fashion (that’s why the pale look was so popular), and the pack dynamics of werewolves were instrumental in the military. Highly recommended.
Pick up Soulless for £5.99 from Amazon.co.uk
10. Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Clary Fray is raised as a normal girl but when her mother is kidnapped by demons, she’s quickly inducted into the world of the Shadowhunters: demon-slayers who have angelic blood. Clary is easy to root for since she’s incredibly caring and determined, usually putting herself in danger for the greater good. Her stubborn and sarcastic nature proves more than a match for love interest Jace.