Favorite leading ladies who aren’t distracted from getting shit done by their love interest (they can still have a romance subplot – this is going to be subjective based on what you think would be ~too much~)
Yup, this is a day late! But it’s been a bit of a busy week, and my brain insisted on complicating the prompt by asking questions like:
“What’s the difference between ‘independent female characters’ and ‘strong female characters’ and ‘well-written female characters’?”
And “If a female character is involved in a romantic subplot and still gets shit done, isn’t that also a testament to how supportive the love interest is?”
Anywho, on to the show! (I tried to go for a variety of genres/subgenres for this one)
Vanessa Ives | Penny Dreadful
“I am nothing. I am no more than a blade of grass. But I am. You think you know evil? Here it stands.”
AKA my favourite female character in all media (despite the “ending” they gave her). You see, Vanessa Ives doesn’t walk around seeking romantic subplots. The romantic subplots seek her out, begging for a crumb of attention, because she’s a planet of her own goddamn making and her law of gravity is the only one worth obeying. For 3 seasons she does her own thing–a mesmeric combination of fearlessness and vulnerability, of kindness and unbridled anger–and the would-be suitors trail behind her with flowers, crying, “Please notice me!”
Vanessa has forever redefined the idea of a strong female character and I will live and die on her altar ’till the end of my days.
Anne de Vernase | The Soul Mirror (Collegia Magica 2)
Anne is given what has to be the worst hand of cards that could be dealt to a female protagonist in fantasy: her father has been accused of treason and kidnapping and is now on the run; her younger brother has been thrown in prison; her mother has succumbed to insanity; and now she’s received news that her younger sister has died in an “accident.” Oh, and on top of it all, she’s about to lose her family estate.
Yet she remains on her feet, head held high. With logic, empathy, and sheer determination at her disposal, she carves out a place at the royal court, uncovers a dark conspiracy, and saves the world. Brava, Damoselle. Brava.
Julie (“Queenie”) | Code Name Verity
“I am a coward”
It’s kind of impossible to explain why she’s such an incredible character and why she belongs on this list without going into spoilers, so this is gonna be vague.
Julie is a WW2 British spy who gets captured by the Germans and is forced to write up a comprehensive confession detailing everything to do with the British war effort. Gorgeous, clever, and sophisticated, she’s always had the attention of boys. But it’s her best friend Maddie who’s had her heart. And it’s Maddie that she keeps in mind as she’s tortured and interrogated to a breaking point.
Julie’s choice isn’t an easy one, but it’s one she stands by…and there’s a lot to be said for that.
And “Kiss me, Hardy” remains three of the most devastating words I’ve ever read.
Flavia de Luce|Flavia de Luce Series
“I am often thought of as being remarkably bright, and yet my brains, more often than not, are busily devising new and interesting ways of bringing my enemies to sudden, gagging, writhing, agonizing death.”
Flavia de Luce–chemist extraordinaire, amateur sleuth, and precocious tween–has no time for your romance nonsense. Not when there are delicious murders to be solved and chemical experiments to conduct. I mean, she’s also 11 for most of the series (because the author seems to want to keep her as a preteen for the rest of her life) so romance isn’t really on the menu for her right now, but still. She has little patience for the foolishness of adults and since no adult in her life can seem to rub two brain cells together to solve a murder, it’s up to her to figure things out. Again.
Felicity Montague | Montague Siblings Series
“You deserve to be here. You deserve to exist. You deserve to take up space in this world of men.”
Felicity is one of the best female characters I’ve come across in the past couple of years and I absolutely adore the development she goes through in Lady’s Guide. This is a girl who knows she can go toe-to-toe with the men when it comes to medicine and science, and she will do what it takes to prove that–to herself and to others.