Top Ten Historical Fiction Books of 2015

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We've noticed a growing appetite for top class historical fiction and there have been some very good examples in 2015. In making our selection we've avoided books which are the later parts of trilogies and where you really need to have read the earlier books to get the best from them, but here's our selection, in alphabetical order by author:

Son of the Morning by Mark Alder


The fourteenth century - Edward III sits upon the throne, trying to rebuild a country bought to its knees, and conquer France - a land thought to be rightfully his. However Edward has a major problem - it is said that the Angels will only fight for France. Edward has little choice - fail and fall in battle, convince the Angels to switch sides, or open the gates to hell and begin a holy war... Full review...

The Penny Heart by Martine Bailey


After living a life of crime in order to scrape by, Mary Jebb is spared from the gallows – and banished to Australia. Before leaving for the penal colony of Botany Bay, she sends two engraved penny heart tokens to key players in her world. One of these takes us to Delafosse Hall, where Mary’s story meets that of shy artist Grace Moore – and yet more confidence tricks begin. Full review...

The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements


Katherine Ferrers is a young orphan – growing up in the turbulent period of the English Civil War; she has little choice but to marry for the sake of her family and to trust her considerable inheritance into the care of her husband. As the war comes to an end, and those who supported the losing King are punished severely, Katherine finds herself with no money, few friends, and a house that has become a prison. Wishing for a life away from her cold, oft absent husband, Katherine meets a man who changes her life, with Katherine choosing to join him in a life that provides her with the excitement she craves – and yet may prove all too dangerous… Full review...

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback


1717: Paavo, a fisherman in Finland, develops a phobia of water which causes him to worry that he will be unable to provide for his wife Maija and daughters Frederika and Dorotea. By a stroke of luck, his Uncle Teppo fancies the life of a fisherman and so offers to exchange his land in Swedish Lapland with Paavo. Paavo and Maija readily accept but their newly adopted life isn't easy and their surroundings in the shadow of an inhospitable mountain are creepily hostile. This is enforced when the girls discover a dead man one day on their way to the goats' pasture. Word is he was killed by a bear or wolf but the fatal wound is a clean cut; the sort inflicted by a human. However, while her mother helps the local priest investigate, Frederika discovers that finding a dead body may not be the worst thing that happens to her. Full review...

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale


Patrick Gale has a substantial backlist, and several of his books have been bestsellers - Notes From an Exhibition, The Whole Day Through, and A Perfectly Good Man the most recent. A Place Called Winter is his latest, and is his first full length novel that delves into the realm of historical fiction. Full review...

The Stolen Queen by Lisa Hilton


Nine-year-old Isabelle of Angouleme is betrothed to Hal, son of Hugh de Lusignan. She doesn't like him much but she's learning to gently manipulate those around her so she feels life will be interesting and rewarding. However with England's King Richard the Lionheart all changes. Isabelle will marry King John instead – a totally different prospect for all concerned. This is a match that will not only be a challenge for the young girl but will show her the true heart of her mother and the true art of political manoeuvring. Isabelle may be the pawn in all this but it's not a role she takes to willingly, despite the nightmares of the horned man and the occurrences of a certain May night that will haunt the rest of her life. Full review...

The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland


In 13th century England Gisa, niece and ward of an apothecary attracts the attention of one of his more sinister clients. Elsewhere Wilky, a small child, is taken from his parents in lieu of a debt and then taken to a monastery which is a cover for something less than Christian. Meanwhile in France, Vincent, a scribe's apprentice, is framed for a theft and has to run for his life. The three will meet but under circumstances that turn out to be the stuff of dark, bloody nightmares. Full review...

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major


Adeline is an enigma. She has lived in a nunnery ever since her rescue, several years ago. She cannot speak, nor can she remember much about her previous life. She tries desperately to piece together the ephemeral fragments that come to her in fitful dreams. Something has taken everything away. Something so powerful that it has rendered her speechless. Full review...

The War at the Edge of the World: Twilight of Empire: Book One (Rome Reborn) by Ian Ross


Centurion Aurelius Castus has risen through the ranks from the crack legions of the Danube but now finds himself in a Roman army on the very edge of the world – 4th century Britain, near Eboracum. Although his men are kept at battle fitness, his latest mission is one of peace. He must take a cohort to escort an envoy on a visit to the barbarian Picts. The local tribes are in the process of picking a new leader and, as the area's future is resting on it, the Romans want to influence the choice with diplomacy. However not everyone has been honest with Castus; people as well as situations are not all they seem. Castus must depend on his own initiative and ability to survive as he soon realises he can trust no one. Full review...

The Winter Isles by Antonia Senior


Scotland 1122: A son is born to a warlord on the Scottish Islands. The warlord GilleBride, is a man who doesn't realise his glory is receding. One day the realisation does hit him, along with a Viking raid. In the heat of invasion his son, although only 15, must take over. Can a lad actually lead a people? History will tell and legend will embellish for that boy is Somerled and this is his story. Full review...


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