The Compulsive Reader: Your Ultimate Historical Fiction Guide

Friday, March 21, 2008

Your Ultimate Historical Fiction Guide

I got an email from a reader, Harmony, today, and she mentioned that she was sorry that there weren't more good historical fiction YA books out there. Well, Harmony, don't despair, because there are a LOT of good YA historical fiction novels, but you may just not know about them. So that's why I've worked to compile a list of some of my favorite historical fiction novels. I hope you will check them out!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a story narrated by Death. It's the story of Liesel, and how she acquired a new set of parents, learned to read, and hid a Jewish man in her basement. It's the story of how she became a book thief.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie doesn't really belong anywhere. She's been shuffled around from distant relative to distant relative, always looking for somewhere to call home. Then a letter from her uncle arrives. In it, he tells her that he has left her his farm, and it is his wish for her to live there. So without hesitation, Hattie heads out. Click here to read more.

The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi

Princess Elizabeth knows that to say she will be queen is a dangerous thing, and would be considered treason. But yet, she can't help plan and wonder...what would she do if she were queen? To read more about The Redheaded Princess, click here.

Ann Rinaldi is known for her numerous historical fiction novels. Click here for more.

Star-Crossed by Linda Collison

Patricia Kelley stows away on a ship bound for the Caribbean not long after word of her father's death reaches her. She's determined to go there and claim his estate. But when she is discovered, things don't go anywhere near as she planned. Click here for more information.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

When a guest at the inn that Mattie works at dies, troubling feelings and memories from the past year surface: life is hard for farmers in the early 20th century, and even though she's expected to continue her work on the farm, Mattie has higher aspirations. But is it too late?

The Bloody Jack Adventures by L.A. Meyer

This lively series tells the tale of Mary Faber, commonly known as Jacky. Jacky was once a London street urchin, but rather than lay down and accept her life as a beggar, she makes something out her life by signing on as a ship's boy. Her travels and adventures range wildly, but her her spirit and passion will ensure that any reader will fall in love with her. The books, in order, are: Bloody Jack, The Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger, In the Belly of the Bloodhound, and Mississippi Jack.

The Strongbow Saga by Judson Roberts

This series follows the life of Halfdan, once a slave to the Vikings, and now one of them. It's riveting, fast paced, and honest. Halfdan is an admirable character, but he still has his faults. So far, there are three books: Viking Warrior, Dragons from the Sea, and The Road to Vengeance (pictured on the left).

Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Incantation tells of the struggle the Jews faces in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Estrella thought she knew who she was, until the truth was unleashed. And with that truth comes a betrayal. For more, click here.

My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow

Louise doesn't really think about segregation too much. But then Ruby Bridges tries to go to her school, and her mother, along with every other parent, pulls her out of school and taunts little Ruby every day as she goes to and from school. Things only continue to get more turbulent when a stranger comes into town, and is strangely curious about what is happening. To read more, click here.

The Boston Jane Trilogy by Jennifer L. Holm

Jane, a proper young lady, surprises everyone by sailing to the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest in order to meet her childhood love, William. But when she fianlly arrives, she's astounded to find that there are no towns, William is gone indefinitely, and worst of all, she is the only proper woman for hundreds of miles. This is the story of what she makes of it. The three books are: An Adventure, Wilderness Days, and The Claim.

Byron Carmichael Book One: The Human Corpse Trade by J. Eric King

I know, sounds creepy, right? But it's really not all that scary. Instead, it's a story of three teens who manage to fall into a computer game that synthesizes the late 18th century. Click here for more details.

Annie, Between the States by L.M. Elliott

Annie's childhood is cut short by the impeding war between the states. As her teenage years progress, she is forced to give up many of her amenities, take on the household responsibilities, and tend to the wounded, while at the same time fend off attacks from both the North and South. All the time, she has to wonder, which side is really the right one?

The Young Royals Series by Carolyn Meyer

Do you ever wish that you knew more about the royal figures in history than just what the history books depict? If so, delve into this wonderful series by Carolyn Meyer, each book focusing on a different royal figure. The books include: Beware, Princess Elizabeth; Doomed Queen Anne; Mary, Bloody Mary; and Patience, Princess Catherine.

Pirates! by Celia Rees

Both Nancy and Minerva have their own prisons to escape from: Nancy, from a loveless marriage to a brutal man, and Minerva from slavery. SO together they take to the high seas, with only each other, and join one of the most fearsome pirate crews around.

Blood Secret by Kathryn Lasky

In this story, Lasky weaves the past and the present together to create a legacy that was always present but forgotten. Alternating between the past and the present, this novel tells of the persecution and the resilience of the Spanish-Jewish people.

Avon True Romance for Teens by Various Authors

If you're looking for a good historical romance, check out the Avon True Romance novels. They include numerous settings and situations, and they're all written with teens in mind. Though all but the two by Meg Cabot are out of print, you can still get many of them at book trading sites, used book stores, etc. The titles are: Samantha and the Cowboy, Belle and the Beau, Anna and the Duke, Gwyneth and the Thief, Nicola and the Viscount, Catherine and the Pirate, Miranda and the Warrior, Tess and the Highlander, Emily and the Scot, Amelia and the Outlaw, Josephine and the Soldier, Victoria and the Rogue

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

I am reading this right now, and it is a wonderfully crafted novel that will keep you up late. When Ellen agreed to work at Hallendorf School, she never expected it to be so odd. But she hardly takes notice, and instead works as hard as she can. When she encounters Marek though, she'll find herself entangled in a daring daring plan that will put her in danger of being arrested by the Nazis, whose takeover of Austria might not be all that far off. Eva Ibbotson has written many stories set in the early 20th century, each cover as pretty as the next. They include: A Countess Below Stairs, A Company of Swans, and The Morning Gift.

There are a TON more historical fiction novels out there. These are only a few that are on my shelf. If you're looking for more, shoot me an email and I might be able to recommend a few more. Have a favorite that you didn't find on the list? Email or comment to tell me about!


Chelsea said...

AWESOME list, Tirzah. I've read a few on there and they're all great. Can't wait to read the others. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks.

And I can't remember for sure but isn't A Great and Terrible Beauty historical?

Unknown said...

Yes, but I tried to lean away from the more popular novels that loads of people know about. Also, in my mind, it's almost more of a supernatural than historical, but it's a great one to keep in mind.

(I am going to make a confession that will probably astound you all: I haven't finished The Sweet Far Thing yet. Yes, I know. I have no excuse other than having 15 different publicists needing reviews...)

Nurin said...

That's a great list. I've read about half the books on the list (The Book Thief is one of my favourite books). I think I'll give a few of the others a try as well.

Chelsie said...

This is an amazing list, and I'll be sure to keep it in mind when looking for something different to read =]


little librarian said...

Amazing Tirzah, I am actually reading "The Northern Light" right now and I thought it was one of those books that no one had ever heard of before.