The Heroine's Journey Reading List

Where can you find the heroine's journey?  Which books and movies offer the purest form, step by step?

Epics    Children’s and YA Books    Movies, Musicals, and Television    Mainstream and Classic Books   Comics   Fantasy Books    Novel-Length Fairy Tale Adaptations    Feminist Fairy Tale/ Folktale Collections    Feminism and Commentary   Mythology Databases


Also try this list of Feminist Fairytales for kids and teens.

Heroine's Journey Reading List FAQ Links

From Girl to Goddess Chapter Guide Bibliography Reviews






The Trojan Women


Descent of Ishtar into the Lower World.

Inana’s Descent to the Nether World.” 

Hymn to Demeter and other Homeric Hymns

The Burden of Isis

The 1001 Arabian Nights

Kalidasa.  “Sakuntala and the Ring of Recollection.” 

Apuleius, Lucius. "Cupid and Psyche." The Golden Asse.

The Tam Lin Version Three: Child 39C

The Hell-Ride of Brynhild

The Lay of Brynhild

The Ancient Lay of Gundrun

Devî Gita

Lord, Karen, Redemption in Indigo


Dudbridge, Glen. The Legend of Miao-shan. London: Ithaca P, 1978.

Emerson, N.B. Pele and Hi’iaka: A Myth from Hawaii (New York: AMS Press 1915).

Hirschfield, Jane. Women in Praise of the Sacred

Zolbrod, Paul G., Diné bahané: The Navaho Creation Story (USA: U of New Mexico P, 1984).

Cassuto, U. The Goddess Anat., Translated by Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1971.

Courlander, Harold. The Fourth World of the Hopis. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1971.

Trial of Joan of Arc. Translated by W.S. Scott. London: Associated Book Sellers, 1956.

“The Alphabet of Ben Sira.” In Rabbinic Fantasies: Imaginative Narratives from Classical Hebrew Literature Yale Judaica Series, edited by Professor David Stern and Mark Jay Mirsky, 167-202. USA: Yale U P, 1998.

Cameron, Anne. Daughters of Copper Woman. Canada: Press Gang Publishers, 1981.

Spretnak, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece: A Collection of Pre-Hellenic Myths. USA: Beacon Press, 1992.


The Internet Women’s History Sourcebook


Many strong heroines can be found in these other classic epics:

The Tain

The Mahabarata

The Ramayana

The Mabinogion

The Younger (Prose) Edda.

The Elder (Poetic) Edda.

The Nibelungenlied

Wagner's Ring of the Niblung

The Volsung Saga

Le Morte de Arthur


The Kalevala

The Book of the Dead

The Bible


The Therigatha

The Nibelungenlied

The Qur’an

Popol Vuh

Ovid, Metamorphoses

Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

The Decameron

The Iliad

The Odyssey


Works & Days

Enuma Elish: The Epic of Creation

Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Son-Jara : a West African tradition

The Songs of Ullikummi (Hurrian myth)

The Ozidi Saga


Lianja of the Mongo

Jeki la Nzambe in Cameroon



Some of the best mythology databases likewise contain these epics:

The Celtic Literature Collective: Containing the Ulster Cycle, Fenian Cycle, and more

The CELT Project: Corpus of Electronic Texts

The ETCSL Project: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature

The Internet Classic Archive

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook

The Internet Sacred Text Archive

The Perseus Digital Library Project

The Theoi Project

Anatolian database

Other ancient manuscripts

European texts (though not in translation)

Ancient Texts (Greek and Roman)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online


Children’s Books

The Oz Books by L. Frank Baum

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

    The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

    Prince Caspian

    The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"

    The Silver Chair

    The Horse and His Boy

    The Magicians Nephew

    The Last Battle

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

    The Hunger Games

    Catching Fire


The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

    Dealing with Dragons

    Searching for Dragons

    Calling on Dragons

    Talking to Dragons

The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

    Alanna: The First Adventure

    In the Hand of the Goddess

    The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

    Lioness Rampant

Immortals by Tamora Pierce

    Wild Magic

    Wolf Speaker

    Emperor Mage

    The Realms of the Gods

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

    The Golden Compass

    The Subtle Knife

    The Amber Spyglass

The Tiffany Aching Books by Terry Pratchett

    The Wee Free Men

    A Hat full of Sky


The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke




Sorcery & Cecelia Series by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

    Sorcery & Cecelia

    The Grand Tour

    The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After

The Young Wizards Series by Diane Duane

    So You Want to be a Wizard

    Deep Wizardry

    High Wizardry

    A Wizard Abroad

    The Wizard's Dilemma   

    A Wizard Alone

    Wizard's Holiday

    Wizards at War  

    A Wizard of Mars

The Abhorsen Triology by Garth Nix




The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

    A Great and Terrible Beauty

    Rebel Angels

    The Sweet Far Thing

Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black




The Great Alta Saga by Jane Yolen

    Sister Light, Sister Dark

    White Jenna

    The One-Armed Queen

The Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey

    Arrows of the Queen

    Arrow's Flight

    Arrow's Fall

The Girl Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan .

    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
    The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

The Kairos and Chronos Series by Madeline L'Engle


First-generation (Murray) (Time Quartet)
    A Wrinkle in Time
    A Wind in the Door
    A Swiftly Tilting Planet
    Many Waters
Second-generation (O'Keefe)
    The Arm of the Starfish
    Dragons in the Waters
    A House Like a Lotus 
    An Acceptable Time
    Meet the Austins
    The Moon by Night
    The Young Unicorns
    A Ring of Endless Light
    Troubling a Star

Shorter Series

Wildwood Dancing and Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward by Patricia Wrede

Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip

Tehanu by Ursula K. LeGuin

The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

Foiled and Rats! Foiled Again by Jane Yolen

Coraline by Neil Gaimen

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle


Ella Enchanted

The Secret Garden

A Little Princess

Calico Captive

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Charlotte’s Web

Homecoming and Dicey's Song

The Island of the Blue Dolphins

A Girl Named Disaster

Julie of the Wolves

Number the Stars

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind

Caddie Woodlawn,

Little Women

Anne of Green Gables

Pippi Longstocking

The Paper Bag Princess


Movies, Musicals, and Television



The Wizard of Oz

Return to Oz

The 10th Kingdom

Xena: Warrior Princess

Dark Angel


Babylon 5

Wicked the Musical


Into the Woods


Stargate seasons 9-10

Pan’s Labyrinth

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ever After



Pretty Woman

The Last Unicorn

The Snow Queen

The Mists of Avalon

Lilo & Stitch

The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Dark Crystal

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Shrek Trilogy (Shrek / Shrek 2 / Shrek the Third)

Sailor Moon

The Powerpuff Girls






Mother of Tears

The Nine Lives of Chloe King

Once Upon a Time (ABC)

Agents of SHIELD

Agent Carter

Whale Rider

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Rogue One

Mad Max


Mainstream and Classic Books

Till We Have Faces


Jane Eyre

Tess of the D’Umbervilles

Gone With the Wind

Romeo and Juliet

All’s Well that Ends Well

Measure for Measure

As You Like It




The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser

Lives of the Greek Heroines by Louisa Menzies

The Handmaid’s Tale


Their Eyes were Watching God

Like Water for Chocolate

Daughters of Copper Woman

The Awakening


The Color Purple

The Joy Luck Club

The Woman Warrior

The Stand

The Scarlet Letter

To Kill a Mockingbird



(While the outfits and proportions are unfortunate, as is the tendency for someone like "Batgirl" to be cast as a sidekick, there is often a strong heroine's journey arc for the characters, especially on their own series.)


All Fall Down

The Avengers



Birds of Prey

Black Widow

Captain Marvel



Donna Troy




Ms. Marvel

Power Girl

Rising Stars






Superhero Girl

Squirrel Girl

Teen Titans

Wonder Girl

Wonder Woman



Fantasy Books

The Mists of Avalon  and The Fall of Atlantis
by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Otherland Series by Tad Williams

The Compass Rose Series


Kushiel's Legacy by Jacqueline Carey

    Kushiel’s Dart

    Kushiel's Chosen

    Kushiel's Avatar


    Naamah's Kiss

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

    Daughter of the Blood

    Heir to the Shadows

    Queen of the Darkness


    The Shadow Queen

The Tir Alainn Series by Anne Bishop

    The Pillars of the World

    Shadows and Light

    The House of Gaian

The Ephemera Series by Anne Bishop



The Troy Game by Sara Douglass

    Hades' Daughter

    Gods' Concubine

    Darkwitch Rising

    Druid's Sword

The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

    The Summer Tree

    The Wandering Fire

    The Darkest Road

The Secret Texts by Holly Lisle

    Diplomacy of Wolves

    Vengeance of Dragons

    Courage of Falcons

The World Gates by Holly Lisle
    Memory of Fire
    The Wreck of Heaven

    Gods Old and Dark

The Halfblood Chronicles  by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey




The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Julliet Marillier

    Daughter of the Forest

    Son of the Shadows

    Child of the Prophecy

    Heir to Sevenwaters

The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier

    The Dark Mirror

    Blade of Fortriu

    The Well of Shades

The Great Alta Saga by Jane Yolen

    Sister Light, Sister Dark

    White Jenna

    The One-Armed Queen

The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

    The Outstretched Shadow

    To Light a Candle

    When Darkness Falls

The Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey

    Arrows of the Queen

    Arrow's Flight

    Arrow's Fall

(For many trilogies, book one is a perfect representation of the heroine's journey, and the entire trilogy likewise follows such an arc. Also, many in this section are meant for mature audiences.)



Feminist Fairy Tale/ Folktale Collections

Agha-Jaffar, Tamara.  Women and Goddesses in Myth and Sacred Text. USA: Pearson Education, Inc, 2005.

Barchers, Suzanne I. Wise Women: Folk and Fairy Tales from Around the World.  Libraries Unlimited, Colorado, 1990.

Kate Bernheimer. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales.

Chinen, Allan B. Waking the World : Classic Tales of Women and the Heroic Feminine. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1996.

Cox, Marian Roalfe. Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated. London: David Nutt for the Folklore Society, 1893. ©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales February 1, 2006

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths and Stories of the Wise Old Woman Archetype. New York: Random House Large Print, 1996.

Gonzenbach, Laura. Beautiful Angiola: The Great Treasury of Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales Collected by Laura Gonzenbach. Jack Zipes, translator and editor. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Jurich, Marilyn. Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature. Greenwood Press. Westport, Conn. 1998.

King, Coretta Scott. Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales.

Lambert, Johanna,  Ed.  Wise Women of the Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Powers. Collected by K. Langloh Parker. Inner Traditions International: Rochester, Vermont, 1993.

Lurie, Alison. Clever Gretchen.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. New York : Dutton, c1981. 40

Phelps, Ethel Johnston.  Tatterhood.

Phelps, Ethel Johnston.  The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World.  Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston: New York, 1981.

Rush, Barbara.  The Book of Jewish Women’s Tales.  University of California Press: USA, 1994. 

Ragan, Kathleen.  Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters.  WW Norton and Co.: New York, 1998. 

Yolen, Jane. Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls

The Woman in the Moon: And Other Tales of Forgotten Heroines
The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women
Folktales of Strong Women (Audio Cassette)
Tatterhood and Other Tales: Stories of Magic and Adventure
Cut from the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend and Tall Tale  a wonderful directory of bibliographies, links, and criticism.

Women in Mythology, Religion, and Herstory  goddess legends

New Fairy Tales by Rosemary Lake with a feminist spin

Snow White Scholarly research on this popular tale.

Novel-Length Fairy Tale Adaptations


The Fairy Tale Series:

 Steven Brust The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

 Kara Dalkey The Nightingale

 Pamela Dean Tam Lin

 Charles de Lint Jack the Giant-Killer

 Gregory Frost Fitcher's Brides
Tanith Lee White as Snow

 Patricia C. Wrede Snow White and Rose Red

 Jane Yolen Briar Rose

 Stand Alone Novels:

CS Lewis Till We Have Faces

 Orson Scott Card Enchantment

 Pegg Kerr The Wild Swans

 Ellen Kushner Thomas the Rhymer

 Mercedes Lackey

    The Black Swan

    The Fairy Godmother


    The Fire Rose

    Fortune's Fool

    Gates of Sleep

    The Serpent’s Shadow

    The Snow Queen

    Phoenix and Ashes

    Reserved for the Cat

 Gregory Maguire

    Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

    Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: A Novel

    Mirror Mirror: A Novel

    Lost: A Novel

    The Dream Stealer

Julliet Marillier

    Daughter of the Forest

    Wildwood Dancing

    Heir to Sevenwaters

 Dennis L. McKiernan

    Once Upon a Winter's Night

    Once Upon a Summer Day

    Once Upon an Autumn Eve

    Once Upon a Spring Morn

    Once Upon a Dreadful Time

Robin McKinley



    Rose Daughter

    Spindle’s End

Josepha Sherman The Shining Falcon

Sherri S. Tepper Beauty

Terri Windling The Armless Maiden: And Other Tales for Childhood's Survivors

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Editors

    Snow White, Blood Red

    Black Thorn, White Rose

    Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears

    Black Swan, White Raven

    Silver Birch, Blood Moon

    Black Heart, Ivory Bones

 Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Editors (Children’s Fiction)

A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales

The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

The Faery Reel

 Denise Little, Editor Twice Upon a Time

 Jane Yolen, Editor


    Xanadu 2

    Xanadu 3

Angela Carter The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories

Tanith Lee Red as Blood



Feminism and Commentary

For a More Complete List, see the From Girl to Goddess Bibliography

Auerbach, Nina, and U. C. Knoepflmacher, editors. Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Bernheimer, Kate. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: Women Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales. New York: Anchor Books, 1998.
Birkhauser-Oeri, Sibylle. The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairy Tales. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1988.
Bly, Robert and Marion Woodman. The Maiden King. Henry Holt and Co, New York, 1998.
Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Everywoman. New York: Quill, 2004.Coffin, Tristram Chervin, Ronda. The Woman's Tale: A Journal of Inner Exploration. New York: Seabury Press, 1980.
Cinderella: A Casebook. Alan Dundes, Ed. Wildman Press: New York, 1983.
Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Crown, 1994.
Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
Gould, Joan. Spinning Straw into Gold. New York: Random House, 2005.
Haase, Donald. Fairy Tales and Feminism: New Approaches (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies). Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004.
Harries, Elizabeth Wanning. Twice Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale. Princeton: Princeton University, 2001.
Jurich, Marilyn. Scheherazade's Sisters : Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature (Contributions in Women's Studies). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.
Lederer, Wolfgang. The Kiss of the Snow Queen: Hans Christian Andersen and Man's Redemption by Woman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Levorato, Alessandra. Language and Gender in the Fairy Tale Tradition: A Linguistic Analysis of Old and New Story-telling. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Lundell, Torborg. Fairy Tale Mothers. New York: Peter Lang, 1990.
Minard, Rosemary. Womenfolk and Fairy Tales. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975.
Murdock, Maureen. The Heroine’s Journey. Boston: Shambhala Pub, 1990.
Orenstein, Catherine. Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale. New York: Basic Books, 2002.
Paradiz, Valerie. Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales. New York: Basic Books, 2004.
Perera, Silvia Brinton. Descent to the Goddess. Canada: Inner City Books, 1981.
Potter, Tristram. The Female Hero in Folklore and Legend. Seabury Press: New York, 1975.
Rusch-Feja, Diann D. The Portrayal of the Maturation Process of Girl Figures in Selected Tales of the Brothers Grimm. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.
Schectman, Jacqueline M. The Stepmother in Fairy Tales : Bereavement and the Feminine Shadow. Boston: Sigo Press, 1993.
Sellers, Susan. Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women's Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.
Tatar, Maria M. The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales. Princeton: Princeton University, 1987.
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. The Feminine in Fairy Tales. Boston: Shambhala, 2001. Revised edition.
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. Problems of the Feminine in Fairytales. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1986.
Warner, Maria. From the Beast to the Blonde. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994.
Waelti-Walters, Jennifer R. Fairy Tales and the Female Imagination. Montreal, Canada: Eden Press, 1982.
Zipes, Jack. Beauties, Beasts and Enchantments: Classic French Fairy Tales. New York: New American Library, 1989.  a wonderful directory of bibliographies, links, and criticism.

Women in Mythology, Religion, and Herstory  goddess legends

New Fairy Tales by Rosemary Lake with a feminist spin

Snow White Scholarly research on this popular tale.

345 variants on Cinderella

Matrifocus articles  A great magazine for women in myth

Journal of Mythic Arts




Specific Collections

The Celtic Literature Collective: Containing the Ulster Cycle, Fenian Cycle, and more

The CELT Project: Corpus of Electronic Texts

The ETCSL Project: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature

The Internet Classic Archive

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook

The Internet Sacred Text Archive

The Perseus Digital Library Project

The Theoi Project


Mythology General

Myths and Legends

Encyclopedia Mythica

Encyclopedia of Monsters

The Open Directory Project

Regional Folklore and Mythology


Norse Mythology

Yggdrasil: the Norse mythology interactive worldtree.

Norse Mythology: key points from figures to runes.

Norse Mythology


Fairy Tales Online 

Surlalune Fairy Tales: The best fairytale website for commentary, collections, and retellings Flash presentations of delightful tales.

Hans Christian Andersen All his fairy tales, plus resources.

Folklore, Myth, and Legend Hundreds of online fairy tales.

Cinderella Resources

Cinderella Stories by Continent

Fairy Tale Links

Fairy Tales: A Guide to Resources on the Web

Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Mythology Links

Fairy Tale Bibliography

Fairy Tale Review


Goddess Names from Around the World

Home Page
About the Author
Heroine's Journey
Fairy Tale Resources
Buffy & Whedon
Doctor Who
Game of Thrones
Hunger Games
Mortal Instruments
Henry Potty
SAT and Students
For Writers