A Review of ‘The Heroine’s Journey” by Gail Carriger

If you’ve poked around my blog before, you’ll know I’ve written a series of posts on novel structure/story structure. I’ve become passionate about the topic. When I heard there was a story structure I’d never heard of before, naturally I had to learn more about it. As I read one of Gail Carriger’s series before and I’ve seen her give a speech at a writing convention, this was an easy purchase for me as I trust her perspective on the topic.

I’ll explain what the mechanics of the Heroine’s Journey in another article; this blog will be solely a review of this book itself.

The Heroine’s Journey is the feminine counterpart to the Hero’s Journey. Gail Carriger explored the cultural context and narrative use of both the Hero’s Journey and the Heroine’s Journey. In this book, the author explores the history of both Journies, and both are ancient. The Hero’s Journey (debatably) goes back all the way to the Odyssey, Odysseus’s adventures trying to return home. The Heroine’s Journey is just about as old, if not older: early examples of this storytelling format go back to Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, with the myths of Demeter, Isis and Ishtar. In the modern day, ‘Sabriel’ by Garth Nix represents an example of the Hero’s Journey, meanwhile Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/Philosopher’s Stone represents the Heroine’s Journey. (Just as an author can write a Hero’s Journey featuring a female protagonist, so too can an author write a Heroine’s Journey featuring a male protagonist.)

The author explored both journeys from a sociological perspective as well as literary nuts-and-bolts perspective. The author explored how the Hero’s Journey encourages self-reliance and self-sacrifice- potentially valuable traits, but also potentially self-destructive ones. The author explored how the Heroine’s Journey encourages teamwork with friends and compromise with enemies- also potentially valuable traits, but not innately self-destructive. The author proposed that modern day authors have a responsibility to write more books involving the Heroine’s Journey, because that would encourage less self-destructive behavior.

The author did a good job of presenting her arguments in a compelling format, providing several dozen examples and counterexamples. This book is for all readers, both men and women! I can go to a ton of places online in order to find advice on writing the Hero’s Journey (like my own blog, for example), but there’s a dearth of info on the Heroine’s journey; this book was the author’s attempt to remedy that absence.

STARS: 4.2 OUT OF 5 STARS (5 stars=Perfect, 4 Stars=Great, 3 Stars=Good, 2 Stars=Fun but Flawed, 1 Star=Not Recommended)

GRADE: This is a very good book, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you have an interest in fiction writing or are interested in the intersection of sociology and narrative.

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended (How I Rate Books)


Genres/Tagwords: Writing Advice, Nonfiction, Structure

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:

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