Aug 31 2012 11:00am

Kicking Ass and Taking Names: Action Heroines from Vincent, Brook, Moning, and More

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Hollywood movies have figured out what romance and fantasy readers have known for years: Women kick ass.

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) told moviegoers women can lead a rebellion.

Black Widow (The Avengers) showcased our talent for multitasking, handling both troublesome men and saving the world simultaneously.

Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises) reminded film audiences that tales of redemption aren’t just for those with the Y chromosome.

As we see more films with kickass female characters, I can’t help but think of all the great book heroines who are made to be action heroines.

Shadow Bound by Rachel VincentRachel Vincent writes strong female characters. It’s a staple of her style. (And, not coincidentally, one of the reasons she’s a favorite of mine.) The main character of her Unbound novel Shadow Bound is made to lead an action film.

Kori Daniels is lithe. She doesn’t look like she could kill you six ways before you blink. It’s part of what makes her so perfect for a mob kingpin’s security detail. If Kori were in a room with Jeremy Renner, even he would RUN. The fact that she can step through shadows makes her even more potent as a human weapon.

In addition to her lethal nature, Kori has the screw-it-all mentality needed to do dangerous things. The only thing that matters to her is keeping her younger sister safe, and she will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Heart of Steel by Meljean BrookMeljean Brook’s Iron Seas novels are straight-up steampunk adventure. The second novel, which can be read as a standalone, Heart of Steel features a heroine who knows how to put the boys in their place. Yasmine, the captain of the Lady Corsair airship, has the scars from battle we’d expect from an experienced fighter.

She is wicked with a blade and quick to make decisions, but what really makes her an action star is what she’ll do to rescue one of her own. Yasmine rallies the troops, she fights to the end and protects what is hers with vivacious swagger.

There’s something to be said for seeing the everywoman become the heroine. Action movie with coming of age elements? Oscar bait! In that case, we must look to none other than MacKayla Lane from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series.

Shadowfever by Karen Marie MoningIf you’ve read the series, you know, Mac starts off wearing pink and mixing drinks. Not exactly what we picture going all Jason Statham on evil’s ass. She just needs a little sexy sensei action from Jericho Barrons. Once Mac has learned her destiny and how to use her skills, we watch her transform into a fae killing machine.

She’ll do the nasty things necessary to keep the fight going – eating fae flesh included – and she’ll work with whoever can help. She’ll make bad decisions and fight her way back from them. Hell, MacKayla Lane will go all Indiana Jones on your ass and scour an ancient castle filled will all sorts of evil magic for one relic.

Flesh and Blood by Kristen PainterThe reader may pick up on a hint of Jason Bourne with the slow reveal about Chrysabelle in Kristen Painter’s House of Comarré series. The woman has been kept to provide blood to vampires for years, only after her release do we discover how lethal she is with a blade. Sparring with her unlikely friend, we find this lost little girl isn’t in need of saving. She’s trained to fight, and her instincts are deadly. She doesn’t have all the answers, but she knows how to fight and quickly we see her put those skills into action to save everyone. Sound like something you’d want to see on the big screen? Me, too.

There are so many wonderful heroines in urban fantasy and paranormal romance that could easily take over an action movie. Add your favorites in the comments. Maybe we’ll get lucky and producers will heed our call for more female leads in film.


While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. mo0nlitnht
Jayne from The Back Sun's Daughter series by M.L.N. Hanover would also make a great on screen heroine. She's resourseful, sarcastic, and one hell of an instinctive fighter. She also knows that without her team, she wouldn't be able to kick any evil's ass.
Carmen Pinzon
2. bungluna
I would love to see any of Ilona Andrew's heroines in a movie. These authors write great kick-ass, strong heroines.
Lege Artis
3. LegeArtis
Kate Daniels, Mercy Thompson, Charlie Madigan, Gin Blanco,Sirantha Jax...
There are awesome UF heroines, but these are my favorites.
6. Lee @shewolfreads
I feel like a broken record when asked this question because I always say the same thing...Jane Yellowrock. I love her. She's kick ass, smart, broken, and courageous. Love her. Truly one of my all time favorite UF heroines.
7. parawriter
Okay, where is Cat on this list from Jeaniene Frost's Cat and Bones stories, full of cover to cover badass chick action as she leads a team against the worst evil on Earth, or as a duo with the magnificent Bones and all their badass friends? This woman rocks!
8. Camo
It's All About MacKayla ..Her Transformation just had me Coming Back for More...J.B. Too...Darynda Jones
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