The Women of the Grishaverse

Image Source: (Art by Kevin Wada)

If you get me started on Leigh Bardugo and the incredible world and characters she created, I could go on and on about how obsessed I am with her work and creativity. One of the many aspects of these books I will praise her up and down for is the incredible set of heroines she stockpiled. 

In the center of the artwork above is Alina, our first introduction to the struggles of Ravka and the sun summoner herself. Then, clockwise from the top, we see Zoya, Genya, Inej, Nina, Leoni, and Tamar. They all look different and beautiful in their own way, shining with mere slivers of the stories they tell on the page. 

Even if I were to spoil their journeys for you and tell of their incredible exploits over the course of seven books, I wouldn’t be able to scratch the surface of the vital roles they play in the Grishaverse. What I ultimately love about them is how they each have something unique to say and aren’t afraid to say it. There are many YA Fantasy/Dystopian heroine stereotypes that the internet is not afraid to make fun of– just hop on Tik Tok and you’ll find plenty of satirical videos poking fun at the “not like other girls” depiction of many main characters– but none of Bardugo’s characters fall into those boxes. 

They are smart, witty, sensitive leaders with dynamic and difficult histories. 

They have big dreams, make significant sacrifices, and demand justice for others. 

They are kind, loyal friends and tough allies. 

No matter which woman you point to, there are a thousand ways she stands out from her peers. 

I guess I like these heroines because they reflect the unique nature of the people who read about them. They defy what the world says they can be and do it with merciless grace. I’m grateful for the space literature creates to celebrate strength like that.

From me and the women of the Grishaverse, happy Women’s History Month.