Growing up I started reading more adult fantasy mixed in with fairytale and folklore inspired children’s fantasy before the Young Adult category became popular. With YA fantasy came these fierce heroines that I absolutely fell in love with and taught me so much about strength, what I want to aspire to and also crushes. Yes, you heard right.
What made me think of this post is Katsa in the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore. Growing up she was absolutely a character I both crushed so hard on and wanted to be more like. I love the morally gray characters, that has to take difficult decisions, because the world isn’t black and white, good and bad and I was angry when fantasy wanted to depict it that way. In Graceling Katsa has a magical ability that (without spoiling anything) makes her one of the kingdom’s best fighters. But she’s also got a big heart and despises her king uncle forming her into his personal assassin. Protective, badass girls with big hearts that can also kick anyone’s ass is absolutely my type. I mean – when this is on the cover … no chance I’m not going to love it.
A list of other similar kickass-characters:
Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Six of Crows is a book I could never overhype, as I’ve barely seen bad reviews of it. In the friendgroup she’s the spy and definitely dangerous. Artwork by the amazing Kevin Wada.
Vin, the protagonist of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Found on the Mistborn wiki, I can’t seem to find the artist.
Renee from The foxhole court, All for the game series, by Nora Sakavic. She loves the pastel look, seems innocent most of the time, but could also kill you. It’s a sport series. Or is it? More about friendgroup bonding and finding your family. It’s a book you love or hate, and I absolutely love it. Art by hermosoharry.tumblr.com.
Mercy Thompson, the protagonist from the urban fantasy series with the same name by Patricia Briggs. She’s a mechanic, but can also turn into a coyote and grew up around werewolves! And look at her! Cover art by Daniel Dos Santos.
I think Celaena Sardothien deserves a spot on this list because of the first book Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and the prequel The Assasin’s Blade, before the whole name change and series falling apart (in my eyes). I stopped reading after book five. My fav character for a while was Nehemia. I have so many issues with the way that series went. But the assassin phase of Celaena and seeing her survive was amazing. Cover art by Alessandro Taini/Talexi Art.
Yelena, protagonist of Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. I feel like Poison Study is more underrated than it should be, but absolutely worth a read for these characters. Art by Leabharlann.