The Sirens Review Squad is made up of Sirens volunteers, who write reviews and books lists of fantasy and related works by women or nonbinary authors. If you’re interested in sending us a book list or review for publication, please email us! Today, we welcome a book list by Casey Blair.
Women in SFF Who Dream Big Dreams and Don’t Let Anyone Stop Them
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
This is about a girl who has no reason to believe anything is possible but does anyway, and she sets off on a quest to find the answer to happiness. As one does.
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
An untried but brilliant poet-diplomat thrust into the heart of a galactic empire, with Byzantine politics written by an academic Byzantinist? Yes, you can take my money.
Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien
This heroine is going to be the very best martial arts skater (yeah, you read that right) like no one ever was. Oh wait, she already is.
The Legend of Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron
Pretty much every female character in these books, be she a sorceress, a scientist, a goddess-general or the demonically possessed, is completely uncontainable. Also no one has time for romance.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
No spoilers on this book’s heroines, but, uh, if you haven’t read this book yet I don’t know what to tell you other than you really, really should. It’s as stunning of an achievement as everyone says.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
This is a heroine who just flatly does not understand giving up—and certainly not when there are magic libraries involved.
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
Unraveling institutional oppression with epic tournament battles. That’s it, that’s the pitch.
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
No one is going to stop this quiet heroine from completely changing how the world understands magical creatures.
Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner
Pro tip: Don’t try to keep a genius magic scholar heroine down.
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
In a city that’s a dazzling blend of cultural experiences, this story has so many amazing women across walks of life—princess or businesswoman or unstoppable djinn.
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
This heroine is devoted to her magic work first and foremost—even if she’s not good enough, even if no one else cares, she doesn’t sacrifice what matters to her for family or love or anything. Her children and husband (that’s right, a heroine older than the age of 30! sorcery!) cope.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Gonna be a seamstress and make clothes out of literal magic, nbd.
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
In a futuristic post-apocalyptic Brazil, this heroine weaponizes the power and clarity of art for resistance, rebellion, and change.
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
This is a heroine with a chip on her shoulder a mile wide who does not know the meaning of letting anything go and will call out and hold absolutely everyone accountable—herself most of all.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
This heroine is just straight-up an unabashed villainess, and it is SO MUCH FUN.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Being a young dragon when everyone is stronger is hard. Instead, consider getting transformed into an even weaker human and determining to learn all the secrets of chocolate. That will definitely go well.
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Outcast from everywhere and everyone, this is a heroine who makes her own place and changes the world to do it.
Casey Blair writes adventurous fantasy novels for all ages, including the novella Consider the Dust and her cozy fantasy serial Tea Princess Chronicles. After graduating from Vassar College, her own adventures have included teaching English in rural Japan, attending the Viable Paradise residential science fiction and fantasy writing workshop, and working as an indie bookseller. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and can be found dancing spontaneously, exploring forests around the world, or trapped under a cat. For more information, visit her website or her Twitter.