One of my favorite things about immersing myself in a good book is coming across characters that really stick with me. Sometimes they’re good — and sometimes they’re soooo bad. While I’m not always sure I know what makes them so appealing, they definitely have traits that make me re-read the books they appear in. For those looking to discover some unforgettable characters, I might just have a few recommendations to get you hooked on a new series.
And so, without further ado, here is a random list of my (current) favourites:
Literary Heroes & Heroines
Kate Daniels – Kate Daniels series, Ilona Andrews
Who doesn’t love a lady who can wield a sword like nobody’s business and knows magic words that can bring a ten-foot rampaging golem to its knees? But that’s not the only reason I love Kate Daniels. This feisty heroine (staggering understatement) is also amazing because she’s complicated, dark, completely neurotic in her special Kate way, as she awkwardly avoids any sort of bond or relationship with anyone… and then falls for the Beast Lord. Good fun!
Richard Gansey III – Raven Cycle, Maggie Stievater
I love geniuses, especially when they are obtuse. Gansey is that special kind of genius — he’s like an alien among people because he’s just so darn awkward. I see a theme here. I must really like awkward people (reflection of myself, maybe?). But he’s also very compelling because he cares so much about people. He really is a different kind of person.
Elizabeth Bennett – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Liza Bennett is the heroine for the ages. I’m convinced she’s the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer — sarcastic and cutting people to the quick with her wit. And – oh yeah – only slightly less clueless than her Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth is really different than other girls her age. She has a very independent mind and doesn’t mind sharing it. Smart female characters make me really happy as a reader.
Sookie Stackhouse – Sookie Stackhouse novels, Charlaine Harris
Any character who practices her impeccable manors on vampires and improves her mind through teaching herself a ‘word of the day’ is a friend of mine. Sookie is so complex; she’s so smart, and yet ends up getting into all sorts of trouble she shouldn’t. And I love that her mind-reading ability (her superpower/curse) makes her complicated, exceptionally strong, and yet really quite fragile. I love this woman.
Jace Herondale – Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare
Jace is a funny one. He seems destructive, which both annoys and upsets me. And yet his heart is always in the right place. He cares too much, is too sensitive, and so when he gives his heart away, he doesn’t do it by half measures, either to his friends or to Clary. This causes him no end of problems — but as a reader, I just can’t put him down.
And now on to the Evil Ones, who are so much harder to pick than heroes and heroines. Have you noticed that a lot of times the villains aren’t people but forces and systems? That’s especially true of YA Dystopian fiction (i.e. “the Games” in The Hunger Games). Still, here are a few noteworthy villains that you should definitely check out.
The Lilin – The Dark Elements series, Jennifer L. Armentrout
Okay, is it just me or was the Lilin SUPER CREEPY? I was really impressed by how upset (and dare I say it, almost scared) as I read about the being that would take the soul of the one it possesses, and literally killed a lot of the main characters in this amazing series. Don’t mess with the Lilin — you may not live to regret it!
Valentine – Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare
I had scary daddy nightmares after reading this series. It’s rare to read about a father who manipulates and uses his children as cruelly as Valentine. But it’s how he lies to Jace and Clary about who Jace is that just chills my blood. Kept me reading on and on, but boy, did I ever feel for these characters!
Tori and Dr. Davidoff – Darkest Powers series, Kelley Armstrong
Okay, this is a 2-for-1 because, holy, between frenemy Tori and the evil (or misguided?) Dr. Davidoff, there were seriously times when I didn’t think Chloe was going to live through the series. This is one of those series where the “bad guy” is actually a company, but there are some pretty awful people in the book anyhow. In fact, all of the characters in this series really stick out as memorable and completely addictive, so if you haven’t yet picked up this YA series I highly recommend it!
Roland – Kate Daniels series, Ilona Andrews
What do you do when the villain of your piece has been alive, literally, for aeons and is the most powerful being on the planet? Roland is the stuff of legends and nightmares. He created the zombies in the Kate Daniels world. And he can do anything. Think master magician and blood sorcerer. Think a man so powerful he creates realities and worlds and gods. I frankly don’t understand a being of his magnitude, which is why I kind of think of him as the scariest villain I can think of.
Bonus Pick: Bellatrix Lestrange – Harry Potter series
I don’t know why, but I was way more freaked out by Bellatrix Lestrange than Voldemort in Harry Potter. With Voldemort, I kind of got it. He wanted to control everything, so fine. But Bellatrix? What is she after? She just seems to enjoy hurting people, which upsets me, and frankly, kind of freaks me out. Maybe I’m too sensitive.
And so there you have it. My picks for top heroes and heroines! If any of these are new for you let me know how you like them!
True North by L.E. Sterling
Published by Entangled Teen Published April 4th, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction
Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.
While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.
As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.
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For a while I turned my back on the genre in favour of ‘high-brow’ literary texts. Ironically, it was my doctoral degree that saw me circling back. There’s something about the way postmodern literature plays with the arcane that had me utterly fascinated, and it wasn’t long until I fell headlong back into my old ways and haven’t looked back since.
My first novel, which isn’t in the Urban Fantasy or Fantasy genres, isn’t high literature, mind you, even if it tangles with some serious statements about politics and the way our western world runs. My editor described it as something between Charles Dickens and The Catcher in the Rye: Serious Fun, in other words.
My second novel, Pluto’s Gate, is where I’ve come home to myself: it’s a contemporary retelling of the Demeter-Persephone-Pluto story from Greek mythology. Folded into the mix is a Shaman-in-training, a magical book, Underworld Gods, a world covered in ice, a three-headed dog, and one lousy ex-boyfriend.
But I’ll tell you this much: I believe in the power of words and stories to transform our inner worlds. Whether the characters be vampires or vagabonds, a good narrative sucker punches so-called reality anyhow.