YA Book Reviews by Amy: Historical Fiction Favorites
This week I decided to focus on some of my favorite historical fiction titles. I tend to read two specific time periods: Victorian England (which also corresponds with my love of Steampunk) and reading WWII titles. So, I wanted to pick an array of time periods that did not include my two most read. Instead here are the settings that I chose for this blog: 15th century Brittany assassin squad, 15th Century Ottoman Empire during the times of Vlad the Impaler, 16th century England power shift between monarchies, 18th century English travel adventure, late 1700’s French Revolution, 1861 travel tale of finding rare species, a range of time periods with women that were different, and lastly, a book placed in the late 1800’s at an insane asylum close to home in Ohio.
Each one of these reads brought either emotion, humor, adventure, or a sense of belonging that I really connected with. This is only the beginning of my recommendations for Historical Fiction.
Get into your time machine and jump into these awesome Historical Fiction reads!
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Ismae escapes an abusive home and goes to the convent of St. Mortain; there she and her ‘sisters’ learn dangerous skills from the god of death. These young ladies become assassins to rid the world of bad and evil people. When Ismae is assigned to the high court of Brittany, she is not sure who to trust and begins to wonder if she can follow through when she begins to fall for her target.
This is a fantastic read that has a lot of slow character-building moments that are important to really enjoying the story. This book also can make readers by learning about the history of the 1400’s in Brittany (no longer an independent country) and the politics involved. If you enjoyed this book, there are two more in the series called Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
This is a reimagining of the life and infamy of Vlad the Impaler, only genderbent; what if Vlad the Impaler was really Lada Dragwlya, a girl that was raised to be ruthless and seemingly uncaring, but with a need to be a ruler to help her people of Wallachia. Her brother, Radu, does not have the concerns that Lada does and only wants to love and be loved. They both must grow up with their enemies and learn to become rulers.
This was a powerful read; this entire series had me emotional and ended up being my favorite books that I read last year. Continue with Lada and Radu’s story with Now I Rise and Bright We Burn.
This title is available on Overdrive
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton
This is a hilarious reimagining of the events that transpired after the reign of Edward VI, in which Lady Jane Grey was crowned Queen of England for only nine days before she was beheaded. But what if Edward VI did not really die? And Jane did not have to meet her dastardly end? What if the romance between her and her husband became a little more magical?
This book is so much fun and had moments in which I was laughing out loud. If you like a spin on historical events, but still able to learn about the past, these stories are for you. Pick up the companion books: My Plain Jane which is about Jane Erye and Charlotte Bronte and the newly released My Calamity Jane.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Monty has always been the reckless and troubled son of a wealthy family; he does not want to inherit his father’s business, or the responsibility that goes with it. What Monty does want is to be loved by his best friend, Percy, and live the luxurious life. Everything changes when Monty decides to have one last hurrah by touring Europe. Adventures await for Monty, Percy, and Felicity (Monty’s younger and more sensible sister).
This was a fun story; Monty begins as an unlikable protagonist that grows on the reader as the pages go on. LGBTQIA+ representation and good diversity in characters elevates this book even more. You can continue reading about these characters in Felicity’s story The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, the short novella The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Luck and the final book in the series following the youngest Montague sibling The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks which will be out in December this year! I cannot wait.
Enchantee by Gtia Trelease
Camille Durbonne must take care of what is left of her family: her younger, sick sister and her older brother that is unintentionally ruining her family with gambling debt. Camille knows that this isn’t what her parents wanted for them. Camille can use magic to turn pieces of metal into money to purchase the necessities. When push comes to shove, Camille must use her magic for something bigger like stealing from the glittering court of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
This story has bits of inspiration of Cinderella and contains a wonderful use of magic.
This title is available on Overdrive
The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Elodie, a girl living in 1861 England, knows she wants more in life than just waiting for things to happen to her, she wants to create her own path. When her father disappears on an expedition in China, Elodie decides to find him and the mysterious and rare orchid he was trying to find. Disguising herself as a man while traveling on board the Osprey, she must keep her identity and the truth of her passage a secret.
This was a great standalone for anyone likes a strong female character, but also, Elodie does not feel out of place for the period.
A Tyranny of Petticoats by Jessica Spotswood
This short story anthology contains 15 different tales of women in varying situations throughout American history. Some tales include: pirates, belles, saloon owners, bank robbers, and more.
This collection spans centuries starting in the 1700’s until 1968. There are sure to be a couple of short stories that you will enjoy or will stay with you.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Grace Mae is sent to an institution after her family sends her there to protect a secret that would shame them. When a visitor notices Grace’s skill, he decides to take her to his own facility to investigate criminal psychology. Grace must navigate a freedom she has never known for a girl in the late 1800’s, she does not have to worry about expectations placed on her and she may even find her own revenge.
This is a great Historical Fiction with a sense of suspense and mystery; Grace and her team are trying to find the identity of a serial murder. A dark and slightly disturbing standalone that will leave you thinking.