History is cool. Magic is cool. Putting them TOGETHER is one of my favorite things ever. So here are some of my favorite historical fantasies!
Once again, all titles in alphabetical order 🙂
by Destiny Soria
It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths–whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art–Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.
Features kickass female friendship, it is woefully underrated (meaning you can buy it for all the folks on your list and they likely won’t have it aka buy it for ALL the folks on your list), and it’s perfect for anyone who loves The Diviners
Era: 1919, Boston
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
by Kelly Jones
The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy. Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters–not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely. Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer. It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?
Super fun, basically Ally Carter meets the Regency era
Era: 1818, London
Odd & True
by Cat Winters
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life–permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister–despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances–might, indeed, have magic after all.
Sisterly monster slayers! I’m a huge Cat Winters fangirl so no surprise this is on here.
Era: 1909, Oregon
by S Jae-Jones
The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…
All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds–and the mysterious man who rules it–she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.
This is basically the definition of an atmospheric book. Gorgeous, goblin-y, and lyrical.
Era: early 1800s, Germany
by Robin LaFevers
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage to the respite of the convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. But how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who has stolen her heart?
Era: 15th Century, Brittany
A Shadow Bright and Burning
by Jessica Cluess
I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I? When Henrietta Howel is forced to reveal her unique power–the ability to control flames–to save a friend, she fears she will be executed. Instead, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers and declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one. As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves? Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettable heroine and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.
Era: Victorian England
These Vicious Masks
by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true–and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, These Vicious Masks is an action-packed, genre-bending novel by debut authors Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas.
X-Men meets Pride & Prejudice and it’s wonderful.
Era: 1882, England
The Witch Hunter
by Virginia Boecker
Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.
Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.
Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.
But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.
I’m a sucker for the romance in this one, NGL
Era: Medieval England