Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Female Protagonists In Genre Fiction

10th May 2013

Reviews by year

Reviews by star rating


Musings and rants

Pandemic Reading
As the Covid pandemic rages, it has affected the way we read in a number of ways.

Reading Resolutions For The New Decade
Here are seven reading resolutions suitable for the 2020s.

Mastodon For SFF Fans
Where to go in the Fediverse to find the best speculative fiction and literary discussions.

Nine Political Books That Change The Conversation
Following news that Simon and Schuster plan to publish an inflammatory commentator, here are nine political books that deserve more attention.

Penguin Random House Withdraws Union Recognition
Penguin Random House have decided not to recognise Unite and the NUJ as a result of staff negotiations, leaving the publisher with a stain on its reputation as an employer.

Authors Support Stop Funding Hate
Some authors have had enough of divisive and xenophobic elements in the British press, and are willing to make an ethical stand.

Women In SFF: Indie Edition
A list of indie and self-published women writing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative fiction genres.

Amazon Finally Makes KU Appealing For Novelists
The new per-page payout for the Kindle Unlimited subscription service makes it a much better deal for authors of longer novels.

Thoughts On The Sieghart Report On Libraries
The Sieghart report on libraries missed its mark by miles. Yet the real cause of the decline of the UK library network is depressingly obvious.

A Shout-Out For The Good Guys
When nastiness dominates online conversations about books it is time to appreciate the well-behaved authors.

Critique Circle: Shaping Fabulous Stories
The appeal of a certain writing critique website. Or, why I have neglected this blog.

Where Shall I Point This Pitchfork?
Some thoughts on Jonathan Ross, Loncon, and the twitchfork mob.

Reading Is Not A Race
Why I will be abandoning annual reading challenges in 2014.

What Book Discovery Is Missing
The current state of book discovery is narrowing our reading choices and squeezing out midlist writers. How can it be fixed?

An Explosion Of Discovery Tools
New book discovery engines are popping up all over the web. But which ones will come out on top?

Blog Tours From Both Sides
Blog tours are the lastest marketing fad. But what are the pros and cons of this kind of publicity?

It's Not Your Story Any More
When a book is published, authors lose control over how the story should be read. They should let go the reins and enjoy the ride.

Same Old, Same Old
Are current methods of book discovery pushing us further away from original literature?

Is This The End Of Sweeping Vistas?
Do recent trends in fantasy art styles and the constraints of online book discovery mark the decline of landscape cover art?

A Rising Tide Floats All Boats
Authors: stop thinking of other writers as your rivals. They're not the enemy.

Monstress Volume One: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Rat Queens Volume One: Sass And Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

Solatium by Becca Mills

Pros and Cons by Jenna Black

Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom by Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes, Inaki Miranda and Barry Kitson

vN by Madeline Ashby

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Silver-Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells

Emily Asher-Perrin recently bemoaned YA fiction's monopoly of great female protagonists on In particular, she pointed out the lack of female heroines in adult genre fiction, in which the woman is definitely the main character.

Fortunately this is something I've been tracking in my own reading for some time, so some quick code-fu was all I needed to come up with this list of adult books with a female protagonist from my review list. It's still somewhat fewer than the number of books I've read which feature a male protagonist. These are just the ones I rated at 3 stars and over.

There's a 67:93 female to male protagonist ratio for books I like, and 71:102 for adult genre fiction at any rating. I haven't read as much YA, but the ratio is 17:20 female to male protagonists for the YA genre fiction I've read. These figures are for individual books, not separate characters or series.

I don't think we can draw conclusions from one person's reading habits about the state of genre publishing, however. But I thought it might be useful to publish this list for anyone who is looking for something to read featuring a female main character. There are 67 books on there at the date of publication, but I'm going to leave the list to update itself so that more recommendations will appear as I add new reviews.

Books for adults with female protagonists

  1. The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan (2009)

  2. Voice of the Gods by Trudi Canavan (2006)

  3. Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan (2005)

  4. The High Lord by Trudi Canavan (2003)

  5. The Novice by Trudi Canavan (2002)

  6. The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan (2001)

  7. Copperhead by Tina Connolly (2013)

  8. Ironskin by Tina Connolly (2012)

  9. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett (2003)

  10. The Sweet Scent Of Blood by Suzanne McLeod (2008)

  11. Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson (2012)

  12. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)

  13. Angelfall by Susan Ee (2011)

  14. Cracking Grace by Steven Stromp (2006)

  15. Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane (2010)

  16. Raising the Stones by Sheri S. Tepper (1990)

  17. A Sorcerers Treason (Isavalta Trilogy) by Sarah Zettel (2002)

  18. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (2012)

  19. Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers (2012)

  20. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (2007)

  21. Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2011)

  22. Chill Factor by Rachel Caine (2005)

  23. Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine (2004)

  24. Ill Wind by Rachel Caine (2003)

  25. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (2015)

  26. Time Future by Maxine McArthur (1999)

  27. Undead And Unwed by Maryjanice Davidson (2004)

  28. The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu (2008)

  29. Monstress Volume One: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (2016)

  30. Crash Deluxe by Marianne de Pierres (2005)

  31. Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres (2004)

  32. Code Noir by Marianne de Pierres (2004)

  33. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (2005)

  34. vN by Madeline Ashby (2012)

  35. Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux (2011)

  36. Sleepless by Lou Morgan (2015)

  37. Blood And Feathers by Lou Morgan (2012)

  38. Crimson City by Liz Maverick (2005)

  39. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (2010)

  40. Kiss The Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton (2012)

  41. Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton (2010)

  42. Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton (2010)

  43. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton (1993)

  44. Rat Queens: Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles Of N'Rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic (2015)

  45. Rat Queens Volume One: Sass And Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (2015)

  46. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (2012)

  47. Fire by Kristin Cashore (2009)

  48. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008)

  49. The Autumn Castle by Kim Wilkins (2004)

  50. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (2004)

  51. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (2001)

  52. Cold Fire by Kate Elliott (2011)

  53. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott (2010)

  54. Walking The Tree by Kaaron Warren (2010)

  55. Suited by Jo Anderton (2012)

  56. Debris by Jo Anderton (2011)

  57. Pros and Cons by Jenna Black (2013)

  58. Prisoner Of The Crown by Jeffe Kennedy (2018)

  59. Automated Alice by Jeff Noon (1996)

  60. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel (1980)

  61. Silver-Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells (2012)

  62. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (2007)

  63. Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde (2002)

  64. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (2001)

  65. Lost by Gregory Maguire (2001)

  66. Soulless: The Manga: Volume One by Gail Carriger and Rem (2012)

  67. Soulless: The Manga: Volume Two by Gail Carriger and Rem (2012)

  68. Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon (2003)

  69. A Destiny of Fools by Ejner Fulsang (2006)

  70. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (2012)

  71. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (2011)

  72. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (2011)

  73. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (2012)

  74. iZombie: Six Feet Under And Rising by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred (2012)

  75. iZombie: Repossession by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred (2012)

  76. iZombie: Dead To The World by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred (2011)

  77. Night Rising by Chris Marie Green (2007)

  78. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris (2005)

  79. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (2003)

  80. Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris (2002)

  81. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (2001)

  82. The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan (2010)

  83. Witch Child by Celia Rees (2000)

  84. Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom by Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes, Inaki Miranda and Barry Kitson (2013)

  85. Solatium by Becca Mills (2014)

  86. Dhampir by Barb and J. C. Hendee (2003)

  87. Interview With The Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter (2012)

  88. Belladonna by Anne Bishop (2007)

  89. The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop (2001)

  90. Sinful Cinderella by Anita Valle (2015)

  91. On A Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (2012)

  92. The Complete Ballad Of Halo Jones by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson (1991)

  93. Chasing The Moon by A. Lee Martinez (2011)

  94. Books I haven't reviewed

  95. Monstress Volume Three: Haven by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (2018)

  96. Monstress Volume Two: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (2017)

  97. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

  98. The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan (2012)

  99. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (1968)

  100. Bitch Planet Volume One: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (2015)

  101. Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson (2013)

  102. Rat Queens Volume Three: Demons by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tess Fowler (2016)

  103. Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (2003)

  104. Dead In The Family by Charlaine Harris (2010)

  105. Dead And Gone by Charlaine Harris (2009)

  106. Life Blood by V. M. Black (2014)

  107. The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch (2018)

  108. Vivia by Tanith Lee (1995)

  109. Sweet Desire by Stacy Claflin (2016)

  110. The End Of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas (2006)

  111. Rat Queens Volume Seven: The Once and Future King by Ryan Ferrier, Priscilla Petraites, and Marco Lesko (2020)

  112. Melody of Demons by Ros Jackson (2015)

  113. Switching Hour by Robyn Peterman (2015)

  114. Fashionably Dead by Robyn Peterman (2013)

  115. Magic Of The Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain (2014)

  116. Firestorm by Rachel Caine (2006)

  117. Windfall by Rachel Caine (2005)

  118. The Horse Mistress by R. A. Steffan (2015)

  119. Vampire Miami by Phil Tucker (2012)

  120. Binti:Home by Nnedi Okorafor (2017)

  121. Contributor by Nicole Ciacchella (2012)

  122. Mechanical Hearts by Nicole Blanchard (2016)

  123. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (2010)

  124. Accidental Leigh by Melanie James (2014)

  125. Marrying A Monster by Mel Dunay (2016)

  126. Demon Hunter by Mary Abshire (2017)

  127. Monstress Volume Four: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (2019)

  128. Monstress Volume Five: Warchild by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (2020)

  129. The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear by M. Pax (2012)

  130. Depravity by M. J. Haag (2015)

  131. Deceit by M. J. Haag (2015)

  132. Devastation by M. J. Haag (2015)

  133. Demon Hunting In Dixie by Lexi George (2011)

  134. The Pirate Articles by Lavinia Kiss (2016)

  135. Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton (2016)

  136. Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton (2015)

  137. Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton (2013)

  138. Burnt Offerings by Laurell K. Hamilton (1998)

  139. The Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton (1997)

  140. The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton (1996)

  141. Circus Of The Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton (1995)

  142. Ral's Woman by Laurann Dohner (2009)

  143. Stellix by L. Danvers (2016)

  144. Spirits Rising by Krista D. Ball (2012)

  145. Evolution by Kelly Carrero (2012)

  146. Broken by Kelley Armstrong (2006)

  147. Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong (2004)

  148. Labyrinthe by Kate Mosse (2005)

  149. The Dark Of Twilight by Kate Danley (2014)

  150. A Spirited Manor by Kate Danley (2013)

  151. Empress by Karen Miller (2007)

  152. Curse The Dawn by Karen Chance (2009)

  153. Claimed By Shadow by Karen Chance (2007)

  154. Benton: A Zombie Novel, Volume One by Jolie Du Pré (2014)

  155. Lady Mechanika Volume 2: The Tablet of Destinies by Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen, Martin Montiel, and Mike Garcia (2016)

  156. Lady Mechanika Volume 5: La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen, Martin Montiel, and Beth Sotelo (2019)

  157. Lady Mechanika Volume 4: The Clockwork Assassin by Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen, Martin Montiel, and Beth Sotelo (2018)

  158. Lady Mechanika Volume 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey by Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen, Martin Montiel, and Beth Sotelo (2017)

  159. Lady Mechanika: Volume 1 by Joe Benitez (2015)

  160. Scarred Beauty by Jennifer Silverwood (2016)

  161. Sound Of Sirens by Jen Minkman (2014)

  162. You Are Mine by Janeal Falor (2013)

  163. Dream Student by J.J. DiBenedetto (2013)

  164. Infernal Ties by Holly Evans (2016)

  165. Seeds of Autumn by H. B. Lyne (2014)

  166. A Wilderness of Glass by Grace Draven (2019)

  167. Wyvern by Grace Draven (2007)

  168. The Ghost And The Graveyard by Genevieve Jack (2012)

  169. Legends Of Red Sonja by Gail Simone, (2014)

  170. Soulless: The Manga: Volume Three by Gail Carriger and Rem (2013)

  171. The Galapagos Incident by Felix R. Savage (2014)

  172. Society Of The Mind by Eric L. Harry (1996)

  173. Glimmers Of Glass by Emma Savant (2016)

  174. Hunting Party by Elizabeth Moon (1993)

  175. Oath Of Gold by Elizabeth Moon (1989)

  176. Star Rider by Doris Piserchia (1974)

  177. The Road To Farringale by Charlotte E. English (2017)

  178. Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (2013)

  179. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (2012)

  180. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (2011)

  181. From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris (2008)

  182. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris (2007)

  183. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris (2006)

  184. Dead As A Doornail by Charlaine Harris (2005)

  185. Dead To The World by Charlaine Harris (2004)

  186. Cornered Magic by Charissa DuFour (2015)

  187. The Iron Butterfly by Chanda Hahn (2012)

  188. Saga Volume Nine by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (2018)

  189. Awakened by Brenda K. Davies (2012)

  190. Styx And Stoned by Boone Brux (2015)

  191. Nolander by Becca Mills (2012)

  192. Shiftless by Aimee Easterling (2014)