I’ve never experienced Autumn but, God, do I love it! The season between joy and terror, between death and new life; I love the strange and yet enticing atmosphere in the air. When I saw the prompt for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I knew immediately that I wanted to make a list of books featuring “strange” female characters in literature. And by strange, I mean women we are unused to.

The cruel ones. The merciless. The soft-hearted woman who isn’t afraid to draw blood. Or the cold-hearted woman who allows unkindness to grow around her. Wild women who are bizarre, and terrible.

From my personal reading experience, I find that when we celebrate the strong women characters in literature we always mean women who fight for a good cause, or girls who have compassion in their bones. We forget that there are women who are also very mean. While this is not something to uphold, I think, literature should have female characters that are truly bad. To portray women as always the good, the kind-hearted characters belittles the emotions we have. When we write them this way, we are telling women that anger, lust, greed, vanity, and every vice has to be swallowed down, because it is unbecoming, it is uncomfortable for men, because, because women are supposed to be nurturing! 

This isn’t to glorify female rage but to show that it exists. And being unusual, it is feared. Confession? This rage is something that can be used for good. But, I digress.

So, enjoy my little list of books with our strange female characters.

Oh, regarding my TBR and Want to Read books, though I haven’t read them yet, these are books I get the whole “unusual women” vibes from! 

July Text Divider

And back behind those smiling lips,
And down within those laughing eyes,
And underneath the soft caress
Of hand and voice and purring sighs,
The shadow of the panther lurks,
The spirit of the vampire lies.


O, younger brothers mine, beware!
Look not upon her beauty bright;
For in her glance there is a snare,
And in her smile there is a blight.

The White Witch, James Weldon Johnson

July Text Divider


Image result for deathless catherynne valente Image result for the handmaid's tale margaret atwood 36373425 15783514

Deathless by Cathrynne M. Valente [Amazon || Book Depository]

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood [Amazon || Book Depository]

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent [Amazon || Book Depository]

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman [Amazon || Book Depository]

July Text Divider


38650653 37007910 29759152 33503519

Tell Me You’re Mine by  Elisabeth Norebäck  [Amazon || Book Depository]

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox [Amazon || Book Depository]

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier [Amazon || Book Depository]

Creatures of Will & Temper by Molly Tanzer [Amazon || Book Depository]

July Text Divider


The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik House of Spines by Michael J Malone Not Even Bones

The Bear & The Nightingale by Katherine Arden [Review || Amazon || Book Depository]

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik [Review || Amazon || Book Depository]

House of Spines by Michael J. Malone [Review || Amazon || Book Depository]

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer [Review ||Amazon || Book Depository]

Gone Girl The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn [Review || Amazon || Book Depository]

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin [Review || Amazon || Book Depository]

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton [Review || Amazon || Book Depository]

July Text DividerWhat did you think of this post? Do you agree that we need more women characters that are less than virtuous? Recommend me a book with a despicable female character!

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  1. Norrie says:

    I love reading about all kinds of character.
    If you want a truly nasty woman, try Skin Deep by Liz Nugent (if you haven’t yet). The main character is truly despicable, and throughout the whole book does nothing that is not selfish or downright mean. A totally fascinating story!

    I see you have another Liz Nugent on your list. Hope it will be good! I also bought it recently but haven’t read it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lois says:

    I am all for reading more of the “bad women” in literature. I think it’s important to celebrate women in all their highs, lows, and unapologetically evil ways. There are so many layers to all of these different women and it should be explored and celebrated, even if you don’t agree with them.
    Spinning Silver is on my most anticipated tbr list. Admittedly, I have a serious case of cover love, but I have good faith that the story will be just as compelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. emmareadstoomuch says:

    i LOVE this post. the reason i love Gillian Flynn so much is that she writes female characters who are allowed to be dark and twisted and imperfect! even in YA, where feminism is often celebrated and there are a lot of powerful female characters, a lot of them are really traditionally ideal. it bugs me. i like reading about imperfect women!!

    relatedly, i love Gone Girl! i can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. also i lovelovelove The Ocean at the End of the Lane. happy reading 😀


    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      Yes, I think, people tend to forget that a strong female character isn’t about kicking ass. I do love reading books that show the worst side of women without it having to be related to maternal instinct or the scorned woman. There’s something very refreshing about those kind of characters!

      Thank you!! Looking forward to Ocean ^^

      Liked by 1 person

  4. FranL says:

    I agree, but I think that we see do see “bad women” appear in some interesting ways. I discussed it a while back in this post: https://franlaniado.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/fairy-tales-princesses-gothic-witches-popular-fiction/ In a lot of popular novels we see women who appear to be virtuous and fit a princess mold, but often there’s a bit of a fairy tale witch lurking beneath the surface. I discuss how that dynamic appears in several different novels. Take a look if you’re interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marta says:

    I love this discussion and the recommendations!
    I think we’re being super unfair on unlikeable women, there are so many favourites male characters that are super unlikeable and still beloved by the bookworms. I adore reading about those heroines, the ones with ambiguous morals, that’s probably why I adore Gillian Flynn’s books. So mind-blowing and thrilling.
    I loved your recommendations, I didn’t know Spinning Silver (that I have a copy of) has a “bad heroine”, now I’m basically dying to read it!!
    Lovely post! ❤


  6. tasya @ the literary huntress says:

    Yaas, I love this post! I didn’t enjoyed Deathless (I wasn’t in the right mood) but the MC is intriguing. And I love The Bear and The Nightingale, it’s amazing! Another book you should check out is Forest of A Thousand Lantern, the MC is a true villainess in the making!


  7. Kat @ Novels & Waffles says:

    I love the Bear and the Nightingale! It’s so dang atmospheric – I need to get my hand on the sequel. Also, I think this is a really interesting point you are making. Yes, we need all kinds of characters. The good and the bad. But also, the characters who are mostly good, and a little bit bad. And the ones who are a little bit good, and mostly bad. Or those that are in between. Humans are complicated and so characters should be too 🙂 Thanks for a wonderful discussion post!


  8. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    What a great list Cam! I think humans in general inherently have bad things about them… they are a product of nature, nurture and their environment and example too. I do think we focus too much on being what people imagine good as being and not on the authentic female experience. It’s not all rape and abuse, but it doesn’t exclude those things either… the important thing is to make it authentic. My 2 cents anyway 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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