The best dark fantasy novels about supernatural women

Joseph Stone Author Of A Perfect Night
By Joseph Stone

Who am I?

As a reader, I’m obsessed with strong female characters. In most books, even the strongest women play second fiddle to the men. Whether to fit into society or attract men, most women will swallow their light to be less than. My frustration with this outcome of our patriarchal culture is the main reason most of my protagonists are women. I want to hear their voices in everything I write, undiluted, untempered, and unapologetic. It so happens my favorite genre is the supernatural, and the women on this list have each dazzled and inspired me to write about the powerful feminine in all my books.


I wrote...

A Perfect Night

By Joseph Stone,

Book cover of A Perfect Night

What is my book about?

Frances Tarantino has felt her mother's spirit by her side ever since the woman's tragic death. Fran's mother sends beautiful ladybugs to land on her dress whenever she feels lonely or afraid. And on those rare occasions when Fran misbehaves, her mother disciplines her. As Fran falls in love for the first time, she learns how dangerous a parent's discipline can be.

Fran's grand aunt, Aurora Ciconne, vowed never to take another husband when she became widowed at twenty-two. And now, at fifty-eight, Aurora insists she does not need a man. But in secret, she has always been a bride. When Fran develops their family's gift of sight, Aurora searches for a way to free them both from the diabolical enslavement they can speak of to no one else.

The books I picked & why

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The Witching Hour

By Anne Rice,

Book cover of The Witching Hour

Why this book?

This was the first dark fantasy novel I ever read on the matter of divine feminine power, and it remains by far the greatest. Dripping in lush, elegant prose, Anne Rice’s story of the haunted Mayfair family has never left my mind. Rice exposes the histories of thirteen incredible women, each haunted by a diabolical ghost who follows their bloodline through the centuries.  

You’ll need a month and an organization chart to ingest every detail, but you won’t regret getting lost in this magnum opus. The sequels are far more digestible and focused, but nowhere near as delicious as this big, beautiful book of rich, powerful, and erotic witches.


Carrie

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Carrie

Why this book?

At its heart, this is a coming-of-age story about an abused and humiliated girl who doesn’t know how much power lies waiting inside her. Strength, dignity, and forgiveness, you wonder? Sure, Carrie White bears all that in her heart. But she has one other source of feminine strength you’ll never forget.  

What works best in Stephen King’s dark fantasy is the pure, unapologetic dish of supernatural revenge Carrie serves her foolish peers when they poke the dragon one too many times.


Dead Until Dark

By Charlaine Harris,

Book cover of Dead Until Dark

Why this book?

At the outset, Sookie Stackhouse seems like a normal young woman living the best life she can in a not-so-fabulous part of rural America. She has all the problems you’ve likely faced yourself. But she has a secret that sets her apart from everyone else: you’ll never keep a secret from her. She doesn’t just read a room well, Sookie can hear your very thoughts… and you disgust her, son. But all that changes the day she meets a man whose mind is closed to her. 

Harris’ legacy character from Dead Until Dark spawned a powerhouse series filled with vampires, shifters, witches, fairies, and so much more to haunt her readers. It’s an excess of riches that’s just too much fun to read. But what makes the whole adventure possible—what makes all those other hearts bleed—is an ordinary, small-town girl named Sookie.


The House of the Spirits

By Isabel Allende,

Book cover of The House of the Spirits

Why this book?

I read Isabelle Allende’s first book against my will, having lost a bet with my mother at seventeen, and it continues to be one of my favorite books ever. A generational saga set in the revolutionary world of post-colonial Chile, the story begins with young Clara del Valle, whose eyes are open to the spectral world. She’s able to predict the future, and the horrifying realities of that gift almost destroy her. 

This was one of the stories that made me interested in spiritual realism in literature, and it was a huge inspiration for several of my own works. And whenever my mom complains that I need to stop writing so much about witches, werewolves, and ghosts, I remind her of the day she forced me to read her favorite historical fiction novel.


Circe

By Madeline Miller,

Book cover of Circe

Why this book?

This novel is a marvelous read and so unlike anything I’ve come across outside an ancient history course. Set in the world of Greek mythology, it starts with the mildly interesting story of Circe, the divine but plain and powerless daughter of Helios, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. When the girl falls in love with a mortal fisherman, Glaucous, she violates the tenants of her world to turn him into his ‘true’ self through witchcraft. She then learns the price of her crime and the true nature of men.

Madeline Miller knocks you on your ass as she opens the door to a sweeping story of one woman’s refusal to be mistreated. Crafting the ultimate feminist icon, her protagonist never bows or scrapes or leaves a single abuse unanswered. Instead, Circe finds her true power is her ability to stand tall whatever the price.


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