Historical Fantasy Books With Strong Female Characters

Over the last year, I’ve been making a concious effort to read more. When things first shut down, however, my ability to concentrate just… wasn’t there. And that was a problem, because I’m happiest and at my most creative when I’m exposed to lots of new things. Eventually I devloped a few strategies for reading more. Re-learning what I actually liked to read was one of the most important techniques I used. Historical fantasy books with strong female characters were a type of book that reliably held my interest

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links I may make a small commission at no cost to you. See my full disclosure policy for details.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is the book that got me out of my reading slump. It intersects with characters and events from the Odyssey, but is more of a parallel story than a retelling. By following the life of the goddess and witch Circe, Miller manages to bring new depth and interest to greek mythology. More than the story, however, it was the writing that drew me to this book. Reading it felt like sitting next to an old woman who was telling me a story. Available at Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, and your local bookstore.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows a woman who makes a bargain and ends up blessed with immortality and cursed to be forgotten by everyone the second they lose sight of her. I absolutely adore the main character. Addie is dealt more than one bad hand. But she learns to make the most of the life she has been given. The book alternates historical fantasy with the modern world in a wonderfully compelling way. I highly reccomend pairing this book with a crisp autumn day and a big mug of lapsang souchong tea. Available at Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, and your local bookstore.

Magic Lessons by Allice Hoffman

This historical fantasy book is a prequil to Practical Magic and is wonderfully atmostpheric as it explores the origin of the curse featured in the orginal novel. At once hearbreaking and empowering, this book is, at it’s heart, about love. This book that manges to weave together historical settings with magic and fully fleshed out characters wonderfully. Hoffman’s writing is similar to Miller’s in that it feels like the narrator is sitting next to you telling her own story. Available at Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, and your local bookstore.

The Lost Apothacary By Sarah Penner

While I have mixed feelings about this book overall, I can say that it was exteremly difficult for me to put it down once I started reading it. Like Magic Lesesons it, has a historical setting and deals with women and relationiships. However, this book has 3 protaginists, one of which is a researcher living in our present. I loved the historical storyline and gladly would have spent more time there. The modern storyline was less compelling. Speaking as an acadmic who has worked in archives and museums, there were a few too many liberties taken with reality. Yes, that’s right, I have more problems with poor rearch eithics than actual magic. Even with those issues, I’d still say it’s worth a read. Especially if you’re looking something quick to get you back into the flow. Available at Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, and your local bookstore.

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The audio version of this book was perfect for keeping me company while working on a complex embroidery project. Set in midieval Russia, the author weaves together history and folklore. The main character is very much of the “not like other girls” variety, which isn’t usually a trope I care for. However, the author handles this in such a precise and delicate way that I ended up liking both the story and the character a lot. The book stands well on it’s own, but if you find yourself wanting more, there are two sequals. Available at Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, and your local bookstore.