Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers, and Freaks


358 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 1-894549-33-3
DDC 305.42





Edited by Emily Pohl-Weary
Reviewed by Tami Oliphant

Tami Oliphant is a Ph.D. candidate in Library and Information Studies at the University of Western Ontario.


This invigorating collection of fiction, essays, comics, and artwork
explores, reworks, and analyzes the portrayal of women as superheroes,
witches, assassins, and slayers. Taking inspiration from sources as
diverse as the Russian witch Baba Yaga, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and
Pippi Longstocking, contributors unleash their powers of super-humour
and super-wisdom to dispel myths and clarify the relationship between
female superheroes and feminism.

Editor Emily Pohl-Weary has done a tremendous job of maintaining high
quality over a variety of formats. The art, fiction, and essays—from
such contributors as Sonja Ahlers, Sophie Levy, and Lisa Rundle—are
all superior. Although it is difficult to praise some pieces over others
in such an outstanding collection, highlights include these essays:
Nancy Gobatto’s “Ready to be Strong?: Angelina, Buffy and Me,”
which explores the relationship between strong, and often misunderstood,
women (Buffy Summers and Angelina Jolie) and claims about their sanity;
Sandra Kasturi’s “Divine Secrets of the Yaga Sisterhood,” which
wonders why there are no older female superheroes; and Carly Stasko’s
“How to Be Your Own Superhero,” which offers life-affirming advice
on how to act like a superhero in everyday life (Step 1: identify your

Girls Who Bite Back is whip-smart. Often its tone is like that of a hip
older sister reassuring the reader that it is okay to be and think
differently than everyone else. Teenage girls and early 20-somethings
who are exploring their identities and what it means to be female will
relish the book. It would also be an excellent addition to the reading
lists for appropriate undergraduate courses. In sum, this book, which
reminds us that all women are powerful, is a must-have for all public
and academic libraries.


“Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers, and Freaks,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024,