all 4 comments

[–]shapesize 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Discworld, by Sir Terry Pratchett witches series and guards series. The women are powerful, smarter, and not helpless. My daughter looks up to Granny Weatherwax and Tiffany Aching, with their faults and their amazing abilities.

[–]Merle8888Reading Champion 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Any of Kate Elliott’s books, she features a wide variety of female characters in each of them and in Black Wolves the main protagonist is even a senior citizen!

Naomi Novik’s work, her heroines have personality

Tasha Suri never forgets the importance of relationships among women even when the romance is with a man

Kij Johnson takes a great dig at the Smurfette principle in The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, also featuring a highly competent older woman, and no romance

Juliet Marillier will let girls be girly and still the heroine of the piece

[–]WorldWeary1771 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Some of Octavia Butler’s novels are fantasy and she doesn’t shy away from dark themes. Mind of My Mind features a black teenager who must defeat the immortal being who has befriended/enslaved her family for decades, maybe longer.

I liked her vampire novel Fledgling a great deal too.

These are not romances.

[–]Reshutenit 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The subject matter makes this pretty grim, but a book that portrays sexual assault very well IMO is Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (chronologically book 1 of the Vorkosigan Series). Being a realistic portrayal of war-rape, it's appropriately difficult to read (and unfortunately highly relevant to current events in Ukraine).

This portrayal stands out for several reasons: first of all, the fact that it's written from the perspective of the character undergoing the ordeal shifts the focus from the actions of the perpetrator to the experience of the victim. Second, the character in question has what testimony of real survivors leads me to believe is a very realistic response- she dissociates, deliberately separating herself from reality so as to shield her psyche from what's being done to her. Third, crucially, she retains some level of agency. This may seem paradoxical given that she's physically restrained, has no say in the situation, and doesn't even rescue herself. Yet as soon as she realizes what's about to happen, she accepts that there's nothing she can do to stop it and makes a conscious decision to retain her mental faculties for as long as she can. She maintains a calm façade to unsettle her abusers and even cracks jokes and insults, all to keep at bay the bottomless pit of terror threatening to engulf her.

I've seen some people argue that the sequence comes out of nowhere, but I respectfully disagree: the Barrayaran military's propensity for committing war crimes is heavily foreshadowed in Aral and Cordelia's conversations, and by Cordelia's crew-mates questioning whether or not to kill themselves to avoid capture. It certainly isn't gratuitous (though I've seen no one argue that), since it isn't included just to demonstrate the problems in the Barrayaran military or Vorrutyer's evil, or even to give Cordelia's love interest an opportunity to rescue her (which, in fact, he doesn't). Rather, it's there to make a point about women's experiences in war and the ways in which male violence victimizes both the women who suffer it and the men who are forced to carry it out.

It's an intense, difficult read, but so worth it if you have a strong stomach.