More Historical Fantasy

Walk on Earth a Stranger  (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1)Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson


What a fabulous example of YA historical fantasy set in 19th century America! Lee Westfall is an engaging heroine, who must hide her ability to sense gold from both her best friend, who has proposed, and her evil uncle, who wants to use her. Starting in the played out gold seams of Georgia, her escape from her uncle leads her and her half-Cherokee bestie to join a wagon train heading west in the California gold rush of 1849. The story is full of drama and adventure, and Lee’s struggle with learning to trust gives it depth and resonance. This first installment of the trilogy has a satisfying resolution, but the full story remains to be told. I’ll be reading the rest for sure.

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Iron CastIron Cast by Destiny Soria

I bought this hardcover at the amazing Ripped Bodice bookstore in Culver City. Finding a new historical fantasy by a debut author thrilled me, and the story does not disappoint. The book's greatest strength, in my opinion, is the friendship between Ava and Corinne, who are each unique and beautifully brought to light. Soria's prose and research took me into the world, and the plot twists and obstacles were excellent. Very much hoping there's a sequel on its way. Highly recommend.

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Dust Girl (The American Fairy, #1) Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel


Set in the Dust Bowl era with a mixed-race heroine? Yes! And the fact Callie's dad is dark-skinned is the least of her differences from the good folk of a desperate rural Kansas. I love how Zettel tells a fast paced, action packed YA adventure story while seamlessly integrating real world issues of racism, poverty and institutionalized brutality. This is definitely a book that can speak to young readers as well as the young at heart.

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The Gathering Storm (Katerina, #1)The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

I was thrilled to find this series of historical fantasy, particularly because it is set in Tsarist Russia, a fresh time and locale for YA fiction. Bridges does a wonderful job interweaving the historically accurate with what is, at its heart, a paranormal fantasy. I also love how Katerina's thwarted ambition to become a doctor illustrates the obstacles even highly placed women faced amid the jewels, furs and balls.

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The Messenger (Mortal Beloved, #1)The Messenger by Pamela DuMond


Colonial American setting, strong female protagonist, adventure, romance and fantasy elements? Yes, please! DuMond's time-travel romance has everything I enjoy in my favorite genre. I even enjoy Madeline's contemporary voice in the historical setting, which the structure demands. A strong opening to a promising series.

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The Bloodletter's Daughter: A Novel of Old BohemiaThe Bloodletter's Daughter: A Novel of Old Bohemia by Linda Lafferty

This exquisitely written novel transported me to Old Bohemia, where a girl on the brink of womanhood dreams of being a doctor after years of helping her father, the town bloodletter. Primarily a realistic historical, there is one paranormal element that propels this fantastic book onto my list of great YA Historical Fantasies.

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Goddess Born (Goddess Born, #1)Goddess Born by Kari Edgren

Edgren's strong debut is a beautifully written historical romance, set in the Pennsylvania countryside not long before the Revolution. The main character's inherited talent for healing provides the perfect dollop of fantasy to sweeten the suspenseful plot without overwhelming the authentic feel of the 18th century world the author so deftly created. I'm eager to read the sequel.

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Sequestered at an English boarding school in 1895, shadowed by a handsome young man from India and having visions of future events...Gemma Doyle's story was gripping from the start. And all my favorite elements - history, YA and a bit of magic. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

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The Red GardenThe Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

I loved this book. A long time fan of magical realism, I've always been interested in seeing it in an American setting. This story covers centuries of interlocking stories in the same rural Massachusetts location. Most are straight historical, but others seamlessly incorporate elements of fantasy in my favorite manner. Off to read more Alice Hoffman!

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Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal


Written in the Jane Austen style, this book was a natural for my "historical fiction, touched by magic" list. I particularly enjoyed the magical elements mixed with the otherwise reality-based Regency setting.

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Plain KatePlain Kate by Erin Bow


Erin Bow's YA novel is beautifully written. Set in a vaguely medieval/Eastern European locale, it follows the gritty "Plain Kate" on a harrowing journey to recapture her shadow, stolen by a magician who becomes both more sympathetic and repulsive as the story progresses. This lovely and sophisticated complexity gives the novel a resonance that enriches the already compelling plot. Highly recommend.

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Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I adore Greek myths and fairy tales, so this blending of the two drew me immediately. But what made me appreciate it all the more was the beautiful imagery and prose. The writing delivers on the promise of the gorgeous, complex cover art. Familiar elements spiral with new twists to bloom into a lovely, romantic, haunting tale that lingered in my imagination.

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The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of "The Arabian Nights" by Cameron Dokey

A beautiful rendering of the Scheherazade story. Loved the element of the stories being inspired by running fingertips over cloth. Romantic and transporting. Definitely recommend.

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Severed: A Tale of Sleepy HollowSevered: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow by Dax Varley

Dax Varley's spin on the legend of Sleepy Hollow was a gripping read. Katrina Van Tassel is a fabulous heroine, who doesn't know how brave and strong she really is until events present her with the love of her life and several very real threats to her life. With twists and turns and a very human hero, "Severed" is a super enjoyable book.

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Courtship and Curses (Leland Sisters, #3)Courtship and Curses by Marissa Doyle

What a fun twist on the regency romance! Sophie's lameness and the loss of her mother and little sister make her feel like damaged goods going into the London season, but she is drastically underestimating her charms. Having finished "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" not long ago, I enjoyed the overlap of the magical elements and the Duke of Wellington's leadership in the war against Napoleon. Particularly recommend for regency romance readers looking for a touch of magic.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The strange photos that illustrate this tale are such a rich part of the story. I loved how Riggs played with the idea of madness vs gifted, as the young hero tried to deal with his grief, only to discover that he wasn't the problem. How boring a world we'd live in without peculiar children.

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Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion, #1)Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

New York City in the Roaring '20's, Harry Houdini and an awesome mother/daughter love/hate relationship are a great cocktail in this fun new book. Anna's a wonderful heroine, and her love story with Cole is perfect for the story. Exactly my genre too - essentially straight historical fiction, but luscious vein of fantasy to give it a twist.

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In the Shadow of BlackbirdsIn the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

The devastation of the Spanish Flu wiping people out at home while soldiers were wiped out overseas is almost too horrible to imagine. Yet that's what people endured in the autumn of 1918, and is the perfect setting for a brilliant young girl's dark encounter with the spiritual world. Love the heroine, Mary Shelley Black, as she navigates her collapsing world with brains and pluck.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I really enjoyed the narrator's voice in this dense historical in which magic is a part of ordinary life, albeit neglected over time. Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Stranges' evolving relationship from mentor and mentee to competitors was beautifully crafted, and the magician they both battle an more than worthy adversary. Great story, great swim in sophisticated possibilities of the English language.

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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

A classic steampunk novel, I fell in love with Lyra the moment I met her. I thought this was a great series, with imaginative worlds and characters. Too bad the movie fell short. So hard to adapt long, intricate books.

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Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Tessa is a fun heroine to follow, and the fantasy Victorian world is sexy. Looking forward to reading more of the series.

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Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I came late to this well known historical fantasy, but loved it immediately. Having grown up reading historical fiction and fantasy, I absolutely adore when the two are merged. Jamie is such an appealing hero and "Sassenach" such a strong, smart and relatable heroine, I'm sure to be reading every book in the series.

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The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Absolutely delicious and delightful. Clever and sensuous. I so want to go to the Night Circus myself, as I'm sure every reader does. Morgenstern did a masterful job jumping time periods and characters without dropping a thread as well. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work!

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Before Ever AfterBefore Ever After by Samantha Sotto

I really enjoyed Samantha Sotto's "Before Ever After." It's a touching tale of forever love and a delightful trip through history in the form of an unravelling mystery.

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The Tales of the Otori TrilogyThe Tales of the Otori Trilogy by Lian Hearn

Ever since reading the first in this series, "Across the Nightengale Floor," I've been a huge fan of Lian Hearn. I am drawn to the world of ancient Japan, and these books are a wonderful way to travel there, while being captivated by the romance, action and intrigue of the fantasy story.

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison's "Beloved" is the book I wish I'd written. It has all the elements I love - history, rich language, strong female protagonist, and a throbbing thread of magic. This book will always hover out in front of me as a goal and inspiration.

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The Memory PainterThe Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack

I read an ARC of this novel, which was one of the most exciting reads I've had in a long time. From the opening pages, I knew I was in the hands of a master storyteller, utilizing sumptuous detail and dramatic tension to suck me in. What evolved was a deeply romantic tale of love through the ages, combined with a taut thriller and sections of exquisite historical fiction, all blended seamlessly into a compelling plot. This novel seems destined to appeal to equally to readers of romance, thrillers, fantasy and historicals. I look forward to reading whatever Womack comes up with next.

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