How do we define a heroine? The answer to that question is as unpredictable and unique as the women in these novels are. Some exhibit exceptional bravery in times of distress through combat or by acting against opposing forces. Others sacrifice themselves and their freedom for their friends and family. Some even appear selfish by finally taking hold of their agency. We see these attributes across literature, from Little Women to From Blood and Ash. To celebrate the fictional women that have inspired us, we’ve compiled just a few of our favorite heroines!
10. Jo March (Little Women)
The second eldest of the March sisters, Jo was unapologetically true to herself. Throughout the novel, she defied womanly expectations and societal norms to pursue her happiness. She was no fan of vanity and became a figure that her sisters looked up to. For years, readers have connected with Jo’s modern way of thinking, her creativity, and her independence. She continues to inspire young girls to chase after their dreams by pushing the boundaries.
9. Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale)
In a dystopian society where a totalitarian group overtakes the U.S., Offred was quickly stripped of her rights as a woman solely because she was fertile. Despite almost everything being taken away from her, Offred created her own form of rebellion by making herself available to the Commander while being romantically attached to Nick. She also put herself in danger to secure information about her child. Offred’s courage in the face of extreme torture and death will always have us rooting for her.
8. Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Among all the Pevensie children, there’s no doubt that Lucy was the most heroic. She was the first of the kids to visit Narnia and showed great kindness to Mr. Tumnus. Although her siblings didn’t initially believe her, Lucy stuck by what she believed and returned to help the creatures of Narnia. Lucy’s courage throughout the series does not go unrecognized. Lucy fought courageously with her compassion and adventurous spirit and was eventually crowned Queen, a role we all knew she deserved.
7. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
Many of us grew up with the brilliant and heroic witch, Hermione Granger. Hermione risked her life, and even expulsion, to help her friends and save Hogwarts. She was a terrific friend, staying by Harry’s side when he needed someone the most, and she excelled at anything she set her mind to. Hermione even bent time to attend multiple classes to learn as much as possible. She was courageous, kind, brave, and everything we aspire to be.
6. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
In another dystopian world, Katniss is one of our favorite modern heroines. Her initial selfless act of saving her sister from playing in the Games caused a chain reaction. Katniss became the symbol of rebellion and hope for the districts, even if she did not see herself as such. Katniss is empathetic towards others and consistently risks her life for those she loves. She was true to herself even in the face of prominent figures in the Capital. Katniss was not only a hero to the districts but a hero to everyone that read the series.
5. Alina Starkov (Shadow and Bone)
Although this heroine’s story begins with being afraid of the power she possesses, Alina’s bravery outshines her fear. When she and her regiment’s ship was attacked, Alina risked her life to save her best friend, Mal. She initially had difficulty learning how to control her power, but she became one of the most powerful Grisha once she embraced it. Despite the deceit and manipulation Alina faced, she overcame her fears and learned self-control regarding her immense power.
4. Vasya Petrovna (The Winternight Trilogy)
Vasya was undoubtedly different from the rest of her siblings. Like many of our heroines on the list, Vasya defied the social expectations set in place. She evaded getting married and being sent away by her stepmother to keep her freedom. Vasya was often described as a wild girl in nature, but moreover, she deeply cared about her family and the spirits of the household and forest. She valued all of their lives and constantly put herself in harm’s way to protect them.
3. Fang “Rin” Runin (The Poppy War)
Rin stands out on our list because she leans more towards being the novel’s anti-hero. She was sarcastic, blunt, and had a strong will for things she wanted. Rin was talented when it came to combat and shamanism. However, she is not driven by selflessness like other heroines to fight in the war; she is instead consumed with wanting revenge. Rin faced many personal obstacles throughout the trilogy and made tough decisions to succeed in the war. We admire Rin for her ambition, bravery, and pursuit of justice.
2. Jude Duarte (The Cruel Prince)
Jude had to grow up fast to protect her sisters at an early age. As a mortal living in a world amongst fae, she could observe and get away with more things like lying, but she also had to work even harder to make up for it. Jude was brilliant, true to herself, and did what she thought was right. However, this sometimes landed her in situations where she must reflect on the motives behind her actions. Jude had a heart for her loved ones and would stop at nothing to keep them safe.
1. Penellaphe “Poppy” Balfour Da’Neer (From Blood and Ash)
Lastly, and most recently, we have the complex and misunderstood heroine: Poppy. From birth, she was already stripped of making any decisions for herself. But when Poppy was old enough to sneak out, she played cards at a brothel, helped townsfolk die with dignity by using her powers, and learned combat. She also defended her loved ones and put their needs before her own. When Poppy did act in ways that may appear selfish, it was only because she was finally allowing herself to follow her path. This, along with Poppy’s passion and empathy for others, made her a true heroine.
Love women as much as we do? Check out our articles that amplify their voices here!