Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics

This week’s topic asks us to turn a spotlight on our favourite heroines. Whilst casting around for an angle – do I really want to trot out Jane Eyre, Jo Marsh or Lizzie Bennett again? – I was distracted by reading my daughter her bedtime story. And whilst Mesdames Eyre, Marsh and Bennett would all fit the topic – or more kick ass heroines like Lisbeth Salander, Arya Stark or The Priory of the Orange Tree‘s Ead or Tané – the power of literature to inspire young minds is so powerful that I thought I would focus on inspiring female heroines in the books she has been reading because there are many.

Feodora (Feo) in The Wolf Wilder, Katherine Rundell

Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

This is, by far her favourite book at the moment – and the character that she wants to dress up as for World Book Day this year. The wolves help massively as she sleeps with a massive wolf soft toy that she chose when she was about four, clutching it one Chrsitmas and howling “Awoooo!” – and for a little girl with delayed speech we couldn’t not get it for her! And Feo herself in the novel is courageous, wild, dangerous and passionate – a fantastic creation!

Betty, Fliss and Charlie Widdershins in A Pinch of Magic, Michelle Harrison

The Widdershins sisters, Betty, Fliss and Charlie are trapped, prevented from leaving their home on Crowstone by an ancient family curse. When they inherit three magical objects with the power to change their fate, adventure beckons. But are they being led into even greater danger?

The first two books in this series were glorious as the sisters used their pinches of magic to free their family from the curse – considering that two storylines run alongside each other and intertwin despite the time difference , and that time travel is a key plot point, I was very impressed that she managed the complexities. The antagonists in the first two books are very human – their motives are jealousy, greed and small mindedness – and she could cope with that; alas, the third book introduces evil witches and that has so far been too scary for her!

Prue Haywood, Wildspark, Vashti Hardy

A year after the death of her older brother, Prue Haywood’s family is still shattered by grief. But everything changes when a stranger arrives at the farm.

A new, incredible technology has been discovered in the city of Medlock, where a secretive guild of inventors have developed a way to capture spirits of the dead in animal-like machines, bringing them back to life.

Prue knows that the “Ghost Guild” might hold the key to bringing her brother back, so she seizes the stranger’s offer to join as an apprentice. But to find her brother, she needs to find a way to get the ghost machines to remember the people they used to be.

I loved the science and engineering embedded in the narrative of this novel, alongside the supernatural ghostliness – the machinery that Prue has to create is critical and how wonderful to see a heroine using her STEM skills.

Sophie Hatter, Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Sophie may be a little timid and withdrawn at the start of the glorious novel – convinced by the narrative of being the eldest child – but once cursed she becomes a force of nature, stomping about and grumbling and being with such power that she enchants the world around her.

Faith, The Lie Tree, Francis Hardinge

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

Faith is glorious – as are most of Hardinge’s characters – managing her own sense of identity and independence in a very challenging and narrow minded community. We love her!

October, October October, Katya Balen

October and her dad live in the woods. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They live in the woods and they are wild. And that’s the way it is.

Until the year October turns eleven. That’s the year October rescues a baby owl. It’s the year Dad falls out of the biggest tree in their woods. The year the woman who calls herself October’s mother comes back. The year everything changes.

Wildness is a definite theme with my daughter’s reading and October lives in the wild, a feat that she wantto emulate! Also there is a lot of neurodivergent coding in October’s characterisation and – as I’ve said on the blog before – my daughter has just been diagnosed autistic.

Julia, Julia and the Shark, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston

The shark was beneath my bed, growing large as the room, large as the lighthouse, rising from unfathomable depths until it ripped the whole island from its roots. The bed was a boat, the shark a tide, and it pulled me so far out to sea I was only a speck, a spot, a mote, a dying star in an unending sky…

Julia has followed her mum and dad to live on a remote island for the summer – her dad, for work; her mother, on a determined mission to find the elusive Greenland shark. But when her mother’s obsession threatens to submerge them all, Julia finds herself on an adventure with dark depths and a lighthouse full of hope…

More animals – do we sense a theme? Wolves, owls and now the unfathomably old Greenland shark! Some of the issues in this book – it is an extraordinarily powerful exploration of mental health – went over her head, but the language and the illustration kept her rapt. I loved Julia and her difficult but powerful relationship with her mother.

Isabella, The Girl of Ink and Stars, Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped.

When her friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search. The world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep.

Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

Oh look, another Kiran Millwood Hargrave! To be honest, there could have been more! This was my first taste of her as an author and I adored the fierce independence and determination of Isabella, alongside the mythic thrust of the tale. For a nine year old, it is a cracking adventure story!

Morrigan Crow, Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed, destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But, as the clock strikes midnight, she’s whisked away by a remarkable man called Jupiter North and taken to the secret city of Nevermoor.

There she’s invited to join the Wundrous Society. Mystery, magic and protection are hers – if only she can pass four impossible trials, using an exceptional talent. Which she doesn’t have…

Simply cracking good fun! We have only read the first one and it feels like a wider and darker narrative is developing – this novel felt like a wholly enjoyable exercise in worldbuilding. But Morrigan Crow, again, is independent, and feisty and determined… and as a book it has a fantastic Magnificat!

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, The Murder Most Unladylike series, Robin Stevens

At Deepdean School for Girls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have set up their own detective agency. But they are struggling to find any real crimes to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.)

Then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. To add to the mystery, when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove one happened in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

I’ll end on one that we have not read yet but which I am looking forward to – this series seems like a lot of fun and a chance to get her into detective fiction as well as fantasy and myth – and with two smart and bold female heroines.

And there we have ten fantastic heroines in books that straddle upper middle years and young adult categories – and who are compelling enough to appeal to me as an adult, and one who is increasingly distant from the target audience!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

February 21: Favorite Heroines
February 28: Genre Freebie
(Pick a genre and build a list around it. It could a list of favorites, a to-read list, recommendations for people interested in reading books in that genre, “if you like this, try this”, etc.)
March 7: Bookish People I’d Like To Meet (These can be authors, book characters, book bloggers/influencers, cover designers, cover models, etc.)
March 14: Books on My Spring 2023 To-Read List
March 21: TTT Rewind (Pick a previous topic that you missed or would like to re-do/update.)
March 28: Books for People Who Liked Author X

17 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Heroines”

  1. I enjoyed your post! I ducked out of TTT today because, like you I’m sure I’ve written about favourite heroines before and didn’t feel like going over the same ground again. So, these heroines are all new to me – I don’t read children’s books these days, but looking at these maybe I should. October, October appeals to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your twist on the topic! I’m glad there are so many strong, admirable heroines showing up in children’s literature these days. That’s wonderful. MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE sounds super fun. I’m going to find a copy of that one for myself 🙂

    Happy TTT!



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