My Favorite Historical Fiction Novels

I watched V for Vendetta for the first time last night, and it's got me in this historical fiction mood. Which, if you think about it, is kind of odd, since it's set in a near-future world. But, if you think about it more, it's not that odd, because the entire beginning scene is about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 with the Guy Fawkes mask origins. Which just has me itching to read a good historical fiction novel (with magic, obviously, the best ones always have magic...)


9361589
9361589

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Published Year: 2011
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Subtitle: Excellent

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves."

This book has such excellent prose that if I tried to describe it I would just disgrace myself! I absolutely loved this story, characters, setting, basically everything about this book (full review here). I've been mentally begging/wishing EM to write another book asap, but so far nothing has been published (don't worry, I'll continue with my ESP).


7278720
7278720

A Matter of Magic (books 1 & 2) by Patricia Wrede

Published Year: 2010
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Subtitle: Excellent

"When a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into a traveling magician’s wagon, Kim doesn’t hesitate. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London, Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. A hard life and lean times have schooled her in one lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But when the magician catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice; then the real trouble begins."

This version actually combines books one and two (picked it for the cover, no shame). I loved these two books, again historical fiction AND magic? How could I not love it? Kim is an engaging character, and I of course also love characters like hers. If you're in the mood for some magical historical fiction, this is the book for you (mostly it's the book for me, but I hope it's the book for some of you too!).


40440.jpg
40440.jpg

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Published Year: 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subtitle: Great

"Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.

Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer."

Definitely a more serious novel, and unfortunately no magic (if you're into that sort of thing, though why anyone would be against magic is beyond me), The Thirteenth Tale makes the list because it's one of those books that I think about often. I didn't know what I was getting into when I read it, but it stayed with me a long time after I read it.


64481
64481

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Published Year: 2004
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subtitle: Excellent

"Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown entrusts her with the task of burning a secret bundle of letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers that the letters could reveal the grim truth behind a murder.

Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, Jennifer Donnelly's astonishing debut novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original."

Classified as a coming of age novel, A Northern Light is one of my favorites. Also, two in a row without magic (see, I do like just regular old historical fiction)! A Northern Light is a really great read, I absolutely loved watching Mattie's character growth. She was such a fantastic character and I loved JD so much for writing this book (also, didn't hate the murder mystery, love a good intrigue).


18143977
18143977

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Published Year: 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subtitle: TBR

"Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge."

So I actually haven't read this one yet, but it sounds so freaking good. It's been on my list for awhile, and I'm excited to finally read it! Has anyone read it yet? What did you think? I know there's no magic (right?!), but was it worthwhile?