The world of women expands far beyond mortals. Diana, Princess of the Amazons, inspired a generation of adolescents to step forward and fight for truth in 1941. Then in 2017, Wonder Woman emerged once again to set off a spark inside today’s young women. In 1992, Joss Weadon’s film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, followed by the 1997 spin-off television series by the same name, gave girls an all-powerful warrior teen who fought against the forces of darkness — one girl in all the world with the strength to destroy the demons, monsters and vampires plaguing the streets of Sunnydale. 

But these modern examples of mythical females were not the first of their kind. Thousands of witches, female warriors and other legendary women fill the mythology canon. Hecate, Baba Yaga, Artemis and Medusa among countless others have bewitched and awed us mere mortals since before recorded history. 

With the success of contemporary, popular anthologies of women like Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, and Mackenzi Lee’s Bygone Badass Broads, it’s high time that someone put together a collection of tales about the many fierce females that reign throughout our world’s diverse mythology.

AN ANTHOLOGY OF WOMEN MORE MAGICAL THAN THE REST

Just in time for Women’s History Month, Kate Hodges has blessed us with Warrior Witches Women: Mythology’s Fiercest Females (White Lion Publishing), an illustrated anthology featuring modern retellings of the world’s greatest legends. 

Broken into five chapters, Hodges’s anthology explores legendary women across different eras, lands and cultures. From the famous Greek bringer of misfortune Medusa, to the Jewish demon Lilith and the Japanese supernatural beast Futakuchi-Onna, this collection of tales explores both the myths that saturate Western fame and the legends you’ve yet to hear about — but trust me, after you get to know them, these magical ladies are impossible to forget. 

Harriet Lee Merrion’s gorgeous illustrations breathe new life into these mythical women, many lost in the winds of time. Now, dusted off and rejuvenated, these stories will empower women of all ages and squash those persistent patriarchal images of the demur wallflower.

Truly a work for the modern woman, Hodges’s anthology includes a playlist for Mythological Women, featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Tori Amos and Björk among other fantastic artists. And if this collection hasn’t quelled your thirst for stories of legendary ladies by its end, Hodges has provided a list for further fierce female reading.

So whether you’ve just read Madeline Miller’s Circe, finished binging Xena: Warrior Princess or have only just come to learn of the many magical mistresses mythology has to offer, keep the theme of fierce females going beyond March’s celebration of women. Hodges’s Warriors Witches Women is an excellent place to start.

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Kate Hodges has over 25 years writing experience on magazines, having been a staffer on publications including The Face, Bizarre, and Just Seventeen and Sky, writing for many more including Smash Hits, Kerrang! and NME. She has also worked for Rapido TV, makers of cult show Eurotrash, luxury brand marketing company Noir Luxe and P For Production films. She writes part-time for The Green Parent magazine. Her first ‘proper’ book, Little London, a guide to free and cheap, family-friendly things to do in the capital, was published in 2014. Her second, London in an Hour, came out in 2016, and Rural London, in 2017. Her fourth book, I Know A Woman, was published by Aurum in February 2018.

She lives in St Leonards-on-Sea with her two children. In her spare time, she plays in the bands Ye Nuns and The Hare and Hoofe.