Of Feminist Werewolves and Consenting Vampires - Kickass Feminist SFF

The Bluestocking

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#1
Today I half-jokingly posted "Feminist werewolves. That is all." as my Chrons status update and @Ensign Shah asked me what series I was reading.

I told her about them and then checked this section to see if anyone's started a thread listing of kickass feminist SFF series/books or SFF with feminist themes and characters as well.

There are, of course, the classics and/or bestsellers from Margaret Atwood, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ursula K Leguin, Octavia Butler, Anne McCaffrey, Suzanne Collins et al. However, I'm talking about books that have come out in the last 10 - 15 years and are lesser known - they have their own loyal fan bases but aren't as widely known as the books by the authors above. Many of them come from Urban Fantasy and YA... which isn't a surprise given that female authors dominate those genres/spaces.

NOTE: Strangely, there seems to be more books featuring feminist werewolves than feminist vampires...

So I thought I'd kick off the list here. These are books that I have read and therefore can personally recommend. I know that there are a ton more out there so please add your own recommendations if you have them!
  • The OTHERS OF THE COURTYARD series by Anne Bishop - Excellent Second-world Fantasy featuring a werewolf male protagonist who understands the importance of consent and female autonomy.
  • The PARASOL PROTECTORATE series by Gail Carriger - Steampunk mashed up with paranormal romance and a hefty helping of laugh-out-loud comedy. Carriger writes with superb comic timing and her female protagonist is one helluva woman (whose werewolf husband loves her precisely because she is so).
  • The WORLD OF THE LUPI series by Eileen Wilks - In Wilks' world, werewolves are staunchly anti-violence against women, grandmothers change into formidable tigers, and the lead protagonist is a Chinese American female cop who can kick ass with the best of them.
  • The CASSANDRA PALMER series by Karen Chance - Urban Fantasy featuring a female protagonist who has to deal with sexism and school her love interests (one a vampire and one a mage) about the importance of treating her as an equal partner. Lots of high octane paranormal action and lots of well-rounded female characters as well.
  • The ORPHAN X series by Gregg Hurwitz - A feminist James Bond!
  • The WARM BODIES series by Isaac Marion - Marion writes beautifully about female friendship and a male zombie who understands the concept of consent.
  • The TRUTHWITCH series by Susan Dennard - An epic fantasy with a strong female friendship at its core and plenty of female-led action sequences.
  • The GLAMOURIST HISTORIES series by Mary Robinette Kowal - Jane Austen-type fantasy with a twist - the protagonist is a skilled glamourist and an independent-minded woman who is in a marriage of equals.
  • The CRAFT SEQUENCE series by Max Gladstone - A world where "lawyers ride lightning bolts, souls are currency, and cities are powered by the remains of fallen gods"... and female characters have power and influence.
  • The SHIFTERS series by Rachel Vincent - The female protagonist is a werecat who breaks the patriarchal mold to lead her people and square off against alpha male werecat contenders who want her dead.
  • The MAGIC EX LIBRIS series by Jim C. Hines - An amusing and very humane tale featuring powerful librarians, kickass tree nymphs, and a whole lot of book adventures.
  • The NIGHTSIDE series by Simon R. Green - Shotgun Suzie. 'Nuff said.
  • The ALEX VERUS series by Benedict Jacka - A male protagonist who treats women as his equal, plenty of well-rounded female characters, and a giant female spider who is a Wise Woman figure of sorts.
 
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Juliana

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#2
Adding:

Seanan McGuire's INCRYPTID series is amazing. Really good fun and the first two books have a female MC that does competition ballroom dancing with knives and guns strapped under her costume...

VE Schwab's DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and sequels have the awesome Lila Bard, thief and adventurer.

Elliott James' PAX ARCANA series has a male protagonist, John Charming, werewolf and former Knight of the Covenant. Like the Alex Verus books, Charming also treats women as equals, and his partner is a literal Valkyrie.
 

Randy M.

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#3
Among the classics, don't forget The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter, feminist fairy tales told with wit and humor, illustrating and dramatizing her points without preaching; I believe this book has directly influenced many writers, male and female and Carter's influence extends to more mainstream writers as well.

And from that, while you seem more interested in series, I'd point to sf/f/h in short fiction written from a woman's perspective as being particularly strong since around the turn of the century:

M. [Mary] Rickert: Holiday (I haven't read Map of Dreams yet)
Holly Phillips: In the Palace of Repose
Theodora Goss: In the Forest of Forgetting
Angela Slatter: A Feast of Sorrows
Tananarive Due: Ghost Summer
Caitlin Kiernan: To Charles Fort, With Love
Susannah Clark: The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
Sarah Monette: The Bone Key (male protagonist, but this is Monette's take on ghost/horror stories of M. R. James and H. P. Lovecraft and her female characters range from plucky to frightening)

In between other books, I'm dipping into another collection by Monette, and I have other collections by Kiernan and Phillips, as well as collections by Kij Johnson, Ekaterina Sedia, Kage Baker, Catherynne Valente, Patricia McKillop, Elizabeth Bear, Maureen McHugh, Nnedi Okorafor, Nalo Hopkinson and Gemma Files.

And that doesn't even take into account the massive collections Saga just reissued from Ursula K. Le Guin or DAW's reissuing of Tanith Lee titles.


Randy M.
(hoo boy, I knew I was behind in my reading, but geez)
 

The Bluestocking

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#5
Yay! Kickass female characters is just what mini Ensign Shah and I need. Thank you for the list. Will collect up my book tokens immediately. :love:
Some of the book series I've listed may not be suitable for under 12s but here are a couple of series by the some of the authors I've listed that are YA and may be just what mini Ensign Shah would love:
  • The FINISHING School series by Gail Carriger - About a finishing school for teenage female spies in Carriger's Steampunk Victorian alternate world.
  • The PRINCESSES series by Jim C. Hines - Featuring alternate characterisations and adventures for all the fairy tale princess stories ranging from Snow White to Sleeping Beauty. In Hines' version, all of them are kickass and that save their own selves, thank you very much!
 

The Bluestocking

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#6
Seriously though - anybody read any books or book series with a feminist vampire in it?

I can't think of any. Feminist vampire slayer, yes. Feminist vampire? No. Maybe on TV (Buffy) but not books (I'm excluding TV series tie-in books).
 

Jo Zebedee

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#8
Seriously though - anybody read any books or book series with a feminist vampire in it?

I can't think of any. Feminist vampire slayer, yes. Feminist vampire? No. Maybe on TV (Buffy) but not books (I'm excluding TV series tie-in books).
Actually the best - by quite a long margin - female vampire character I've read was a beta read for a Chronner (@ctg ) who has the most astonishing character. And definitely kickass.
 

Inari Writer

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#10
Symphony of the Ages by Elizabeth Haydon is an ongoing epic fantasy with a very powerful female protagonist who does drive the plot at certain points. She's something of a Mary Sue though.

People have name-checked Seanan McGuire a lot but not mentioned the Toby Daye series which has a kickass, interesting protagonist. It's set in the secret world of the Fae; men and women are completely equal and sexuality is not a problem.

Catherine M. Valente is always worth checking out. Very clever and lyrical writer of both fantasy and sci-fi. Can definitely recommend Deathless. I believe she did a short story about a female astronaut as well.

Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura depicts a society with an interesting gender dynamic. There's a male protagonist who belongs to a race of shapeshifting draconic humanoids. His species is matriarchal because females are larger and stronger, (as a rule), and Queens are the most powerful of all. Queens mate with male Consorts who are usually delicate, pretty creatures that wear jewellery and stay home to look after the kids.
 

SilentRoamer

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#11
Ok well. I will preface this by saying I am not exactly sure what this thread is looking for. I don't really know what "feminist" themes would be but I am making assumption that the OP is looking for books that treat gender in a specific way or treat women in a specific way. I don't want to get into a discussion about it in thread as I don't want to derail the thread but if anyone in the thread wants to PM and educate me that would be most appreciated.

Happy to enter into a dialogue and increase my understanding.

So I have read Symphony of Ages by Elizabeth Hayden as mentioned above. Rhapsody (the female protag) is a bit of a Mary Sue but I always found her character believable and the way she relates. Though as every man she meets falls in love with her because she is so beautiful and as she was a prostitute before that I am not sure how this fits with feminist themes. I did however really enjoy the series but stopped at book 5 because I felt the plot had been neatly wrapped up and this was a sequel for a sequel sake.

Recently I read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, this is interesting in that the Radch don't have gendered pronouns in their language at all. As a reader it means gender identity is difficult to place, compounded by that are the facts that fashions and customs differ so much world to world it can be difficult to tell the difference. As a reader you have to work out the sex of the characters which adds a slightly interesting element. Although overall I didn't find this as groundbreaking as I have read in reviews. This was also an award winner.

I also have a copy of Joanne Russells The Female Man which I have been meaning to read and is supposedly very good.

I just wanted to throw a few things in and maybe a different perspective. :)
 

Inari Writer

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#13
Can't believe I forgot about The Mistress of the Empire series by Wurts and Feist.

It's a classic 'woman in a man's world' story about a young noblewoman in an East Asian style Empire surviving the near annihilation of her family and ultimately rising to greatness and rewriting the rules of her society. And she does it with intelligence, deal-making and courage.
 

Daisy-Boo

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#14
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is a Native American car mechanic who also happens to be a shapeshifter who turns into a coyote. She is drawn into the business of the local werewolf pack and also various other supernatural beings. She's a strong, intelligent and resourceful woman who also happens to own the most charming cat (a plus in my book!).

Not werewolves but I can also recommend the Greywalker series by Kat Richardson. About a female private detective who is viciously assaulted and is clinically dead for two minutes. She recovers and then discovers that after her ordeal she can now see the ghostly "Grey". Another series is The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. A witch, living vampire and a pixie join forces to investigate supernatural crimes while also navigating their own complicated lives and relationships.
 

SilentRoamer

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#15
I agree with @Inari Writer about Mara of the Acoma.

Mara is one of my favorite female characters in Fantasy. I think this trilogy is easily among the best of Feists work.

I should also mention Gemmell's Hawk Eternal series, probably my least favorite Gemmell and one the critics pan the most but still better than a lot of dreck out there.
 

The Bluestocking

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#16
Adding the following two series since I'm in the middle of reading them and they are bona fide feminist:
  • The JANE YELLOWROCK series by Faith Hunter - The adventures of a female Cherokee Skinwalker who works as a bounty hunter specialising in killing vampires.
  • The KATE DANIELS series by Ilona Andrews - Kate Daniels is a supernatural P.I. in a world where magic and technology battle for dominance. Plenty of feminist issues dealt with and tucked in including the female leadership and female friendship.
 

The Bluestocking

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#17
Okay, everybody - I've found a feminist vampire series:
  • The CHICAGOLAND VAMPIRES series by Chloe Neill - The protagonist is a feminist human who got turned into a vampire and proceeds to spend the series (it's still going strong) teaching the male vampire leader about treating women with respect.
 
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hitmouse

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#18
Male reader here. No problem at all with feminist fiction/female leads etc.
I read the first of the Gail Carriher Parasol Protectorate books out of curiosity. Well written, funny, good pace and characterisation. I must confess I found reading it a deeply peculiar experience: basically a high-class Mills & Boon swoony romance tacked on to an interesting fantasy. I am not criticising the book, so much as reflecting on why I found it a bit unsettling.
 

The Bluestocking

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#19
New addition to the list:
  • Faith Hunter's new series SOULWOOD tackles everything from misogyny to church cult polygamy to violence against women. And her not-quite-human lead protagonist Nell Nicholson Ingram is one of the most outstanding female characters I have read this year!
 

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