Top Ten Unusual Character Names

  1. Elbereth – The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien. Elbereth is, broadly speaking, a star-goddess. I just think her name has a lovely ring to it.
  2. Lirael – Lirael, Garth Nix. A pretty name that sounds fantastical without being unpronounceable or unwieldy. Nix tends to be good at those kinds of names.
  3. Lyra Belacqua – Northern Lights, Philip Pullman. Again, it’s unusual enough to mark her out without being difficult to pronounce or use every day.
  4. Mosca Mye – Fly Trap, Frances Hardinge. Mosca’s name means “fly”; I love that her name isn’t pretty and meek and flowery, because it reflects her difficult, unconventional personality.
  5. Blue Van Meer – Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl. Slightly pretentious and unusual in a self-conscious way, it’s another name that tells you exactly what the character is like.
  6. Ariel Manto – The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas. Ariel’s name is a pseudonym, and its Shakespearean connotations are perfect at conveying the impishness of the book’s narrative; nothing’s ever quite “real”, because the real is unapproachable.
  7. Steerpike – Titus Groan, Mervyn Peake. I can’t think of another name more villainous than this one.
  8. September – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne Valente. The name is admittedly a little Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but September herself is pretty much anything but.
  9. Nyx – God’s War, Kameron Hurley. This name’s perfect, too: it means “night”, and Nyx’s past is as dark as her future.
  10. Bellis Coldwine – The Scar, China Mieville. Cold by name, cold by nature. I like that it sounds like a real-world name while being slightly different.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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