The best fantasy books with female main characters and awesome magic

The Books I Picked & Why

Mistborn: The Final Empire

By Brandon Sanderson

Book cover of Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why this book?

Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets – but in The Final Empire, the first book in the Mistborn trilogy, she will have to learn to trust a band of ambitious thieves to master powers of which she never dreamed. I loved Vin’s journey as a character through the Mistborn series – she’s fragile but strong, brave, reckless, and ruthless. The magic system in this world – based around controlling magnetism and metals – is also completely original and immersive. 

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State of Sorrow

By Melinda Salisbury

Book cover of State of Sorrow

Why this book?

Our enigmatic heroine, Sorrow, rules the Court of Tears, covering for her grief-maddened father, who has turned their once celebrated land into a living monument for the brother who died before she was born. Joy is literally forbidden. But in this twisty turny political tale – in which the magic slowly blooms – nothing is as it seems… I loved it!

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Isles of Storm and Sorrow: Viper Book 1

By Bex Hogan

Book cover of Isles of Storm and Sorrow: Viper Book 1

Why this book?

Viper mixes the best bits of Pirates of the Caribbean with a bold, fun, and traditional kind of magic in a female-led fantasy adventure that will grip you until the very last page. Our heroine, Marianne, is fated to become the Viper: the leader of a pirate empire protecting the Twelve Isles… only the current Viper stands in her way. He’s corrupt, merciless, and leaves a trail of despair and destruction in his wake… and he happens to be her father. 

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The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale

Book cover of The Goose Girl

Why this book?

This is an old favourite of mine. Based on the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, this story follows Ani – our princess – as fate forces her to disguise herself among her enemies and discover her destiny. The magic of this novel is in how Ani can speak and understand the language of animals. It’s charming and cosy and completely unputdownable.

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The Bone Season

By Samantha Shannon

Book cover of The Bone Season

Why this book?

Samantha Shannon’s world-building in this series is second to none. We find ourselves in a future alternate version of the world, where the government monitors the population for those people with extraordinary powers: clairvoyants. Paige, our main character, is one of these – and a bit of an antihero to boot (my favourite kind of hero!). You will love and be frustrated by her – and root for the simmering romance plot.

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