13 Wonderful Works of Historical Fiction

Part of what makes reading so special is a book's ability to transport readers to foreign lands or distant eras. If you're interested in the past, but prefer fiction to biographies and history books, check out these 13 novels that can act as your own personal time machine. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

13 Wonderful Works of Historical Fiction

Title Author(s) Era
1. Lilac Girls Martha Hall Kelly World War II
2. My Dear Hamilton Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie American Revolution
3. Murder in the Bowery Victoria Thompson Turn of the century
4. Island of the Mad Laurie R. King Roaring 20s
5. Emperor of the Eight Islands Lian Hearn Medieval Japan
6. The English Wife Lauren Willig Gilded Age
7. With You Always Jody Hedlund 1850s New York
8. The Beautiful Pretender Melanie Dickerson Medieval Europe
9. Rebel Queen Michelle Moran Mid-nineteenth century
10. The Indigo Girl Natasha Boyd Colonial America
11. The Book of Lost Fragrances M. J. Rose Ancient Egypt
12. The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill Julie Klassen Regency
13. The General's Women Susan Wittig Albert World War II

Why You Should Read Historical Fiction

Walter Scott: Father of the Historical Novel

Many people consider Sir Walter Scott to be the inventor of the modern historical novel. His most famous works, the Waverly Novels, were published during the early 1800s. These works inspired many future authors, including Balzac and Victor Hugo.

In Depth

Historical fiction is one of literature's most popular genres. It traces its roots back to the 14th century and continues to influence readers around the world to this day. In no particular order, here are 13 wonderful works that feature stories that take place in the past.

#1: "Lilac Girls" by Martha Hall Kelly. This work features the exploits of three women during Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939. Caroline Ferriday, a socialite from New York is working for the French consulate. Her life is in danger as Hitler sets his eyes on France. On the other hand, teenager Kasia Kuzmerick, becomes a messenger for the underground resistance force in Poland. She knows that she needs to be careful in doing her job as one mishap can get her killed. Meanwhile, Herta Oberheuser is a German doctor who works for the Nazi army.

#2: "My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton" by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. Eliza Schuyler is a young woman fighting for independence during the American Revolution. While at war, she meets Alexander Hamilton, falls in love, and marries him. They fight side-by-side until Alexander's death, leaving Eliza to single-handedly push on with their battle for peace. In the process, she also needs to preserve her husband's legacy against degrading issues which surface posthumously.

While at war, she meets Alexander Hamilton, falls in love, and marries him.

#3: "Murder in the Bowery " by Victoria Thompson. The plot centers on the cases being handled by private detective Frank Malloy and his wife, Sarah Brandt. One of their clients is Will Bert, who is searching for his brother, Freddie. Set during the tumultuous year of 1899, the story takes an interesting turn when Freddie is located. After mentioning Will's name, the boy suddenly runs off and is soon found dead, setting off an exciting mystery.

#4: "Island of the Mad" by Laurie R. King. Set in the late 1800s, this work focuses on Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes' search for their friend's aunt. The missing woman is Lady Vivian Beaconsfield, who has gone insane after she lost her father and brother from the Great War. She has been in and out of different mental institutions since then and her rational aptitude has seen improvement in recent years. Taking this into consideration, the detective couple searches for her, running into exciting twists and turns along the way.

#5: "Emperor of the Eight Islands: Book 1" by Lian Hearn. A child named Kazumaru is dispossessed of his birthright as the heir to the emperor's throne in medieval Japan. His uncle nearly kills him as part of the latter's grand plan of ruling the entire land. Kazumaru meets a powerful priest where he learns the art of sorcery. The boy eventually transforms into Shikanoko and attempts to take back the Lotus Throne, which rightfully belongs to him. What follows are action-packed scenes involving battles between warriors and animal spirits.

What follows are action-packed scenes involving battles between warriors and animal spirits.

#6: "The English Wife" by Lauren Willig. Bayard and Annabelle Van Duyvil are a couple living during the Gilded Age. Everything goes smoothly for them, despite Annabelle's rumored affair with an architect. The lovers mysteriously die, leaving Bayard's sister, Janie, searching for answers as to who killed them. Her search eventually leads her to revelations that she isn't prepared to find.

#7: "With You Always " by Jody Hedlund. Elise Neumann is the eldest of three siblings who are orphaned during the New York financial crisis in 1850s. She accepts a job in Illinois and works as a seamstress to support herself and her sisters. There, she meets Thornton Quincy, son of a dying wealthy businessman. Thornton's father is about to decide who among his children will inherit his wealth when he dies. Thornton sees this as an opportunity to prove his worth. His mission, however, is disrupted as he crosses paths with Elise.

#8: "The Beautiful Pretender" by Melanie Dickerson. Set in medieval times, the spotlight is on the new Margrave of Thornbeck who is looking for a bride. He selects several ladies of noble background and invites them to stay in his castle for two weeks. During their stay, they will be given several challenges. One of the ten women is not from an aristocratic family, but merely a servant. Avelina is sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to represent his daughter. Her mission is simple: don't get caught and don't let the commander choose her as his wife. But things get complicated when she starts falling in love.

During their stay, they will be given several challenges.

#9: "Rebel Queen" by Michelle Moran. The story is about Queen Lakshmi who defended the Kingdom of Jhansi in India against British invasion in the mid-19th century. During this time, her country is politically divided and can be easily invaded. The British troops are determined to conquer her city. But the main protagonist will not hand it over to them freely. She forms an army composed of both men and women. Even though they lack weapons and training, they fight valiantly for their beloved land. The book is hailed for its depiction of female leadership in a world dominated by men.

#10: "The Indigo Girl" by Natasha Boyd. This work showcases the incredible exploits of 16-year-old Eliza Lucas between the years 1739 and 1744. Upon the orders of her father, she leads their family's plantations in South Carolina. As the tension between Spain and Britain rises, Eliza realizes that they could lose their business and everything that they have. She finds a possible solution: start producing indigo dye, a well-loved product in France. Now, she needs to learn how to make it. She seeks the help of a few people and in the process, she learns the value of love, ambition, and friendship.

#11: "The Book of Lost Fragrances" by M.J. Rose. Jac L'Etoile's brother goes missing after discovering a profound family secret. Hoping to uncover what the secret is, Jac travels to Paris where she starts her investigation. There, she is haunted by visions of her family's old perfumery house. She then learns that her brother's discovery involves a legend pointing to an ancient perfume which dates back to the time of Cleopatra. The scent allegedly has the ability to unlock memories from the past. With such power, the fragrance can either make the world better or destroy it completely, depending on which hands it falls into.

She then learns that her brother's discovery involves a legend pointing to an ancient perfume which dates back to the time of Cleopatra.

#12: "The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill" by Julie Klassen. Jane Bell is a widow who inherits her husband's business. Unfortunately, she has no knowledge of how to operate the hotel. Because of her looming debt, however, she has no choice but to keep the inn running. She solicits the help of her estranged mother-in-law, Thora and the two set aside their differences and work together.

#13: "The General's Women" by Susan Wittig Albert. This World War II novel revolves around the relationship between General Dwight Eisenhower and his Irish driver, Kay Summersby. It also shows how their ties affected the life of Mamie Eisenhower in Washington. This historical fiction attempts to lay down the details from the points of view of the three figures. It gives the readers a unique glimpse of how Dwight and Kay's affair evolved during their stints in England, North America, France, and Germany from 1942 to 1945. The book is praised for presenting the lives of the characters in an informative, entertaining, and inspiring way.