Newest Historical Fiction Reviews

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The Parentations by Kate Mayfield

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Fantasy, Historical Fiction

In eighteenth century London, sisters Fitzgerald, Constance and Verity are changed forever when they become entwined with the Fowler family - and charged with protecting a mysterious child. Fast forward to the London of 2015, and the sisters are still waiting - with no way of knowing if the boy is alive or dead. Far away, a hidden pool grants those who sup from it eternal life, but also forces them to keep a secret for two hundred years. As those years pass by, those who were granted immortality find that it's far from a blessing - with true darkness emerging in the absence of death. Full Review

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Munich: The Man Who Said No! by David Laws

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Thrillers

I've played Neville Chamberlain in public, you know – a full one-line in a Beyond the Fringe sketch, where he says he has a piece of paper from Hitler. I then proceeded to prove it was a paper bag, in fact, by blowing it up and immediately bursting it. That is what that paper was to many – the indicator of a lot of hot air, and only leading to an unwelcome noise, when WW2 actually struck anyway. Certainly, not everyone was keen on his appeasement with the Nazis, and this book opens with the first-person reportage of one such man, keen on showing proof to Chamberlain that he should not sign the Sudetenland away. But he only got so far before his story was cut off entirely – leaving a grand-daughter, Emma, at Cambridge but under a cloud of ignominy, to pick the last, barest threads of the story up and see just what did happen to him. Oh, and her help has just come out of prison… Full Review

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Kin by Snorri Kristjansson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Unnthor Reginsson is the uncrowned king of the valley; retired Viking farmer and rumoured owner of a large hoard of gold. He is gathering his clan, a grand reunion after ten years of absence. It is time for strengthening family bonds, feasting, telling tall tales and remembering shared history. Full Review


Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction

Templar Silks is a great example of historical fiction done well. It's a fictitious account of William Marshal's time in Jerusalem during the late 1100s during a brief spell of calm before the death of King Baldwin to leprosy in 1185. Elizabeth Chadwick has written a previous book about William Marshal but glossed over this period in his life for lack of research. In this book she goes back to fill in the gaps having spent time studying this particular period of his life. Her main problem, as she acknowledges at the end of the book, is that virtually nothing is known of Marshal's time in Jerusalem. We know when and why he went, we know who the major power players were, we know when he came back and that is about it. So understandably, this book is probably more fiction than history but it is brilliantly written none the less. Full Review

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Revenge by Mitchell & Mitchell

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction

Revenge opens with the news that Charles Stuart is to return to the throne as Charles II of England. A young woman, Ruth Courtney, is returning home to her family's farmhouse, excited at the prospect of a new King. She arrives home, however, to find her home ablaze and surrounded by renegade soldiers, supporters of Cromwell, her family nowhere to be found. Full Review

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The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Baghdad Clock is a tale of two friends growing up during the first and second Iraqi war. Shahad Al Rawi uses magic realism to illustrate the displacement felt by a young girl and her neighbourhood. The novel introduces us to the various characters surrounding the protagonist. They are full of life and yet never seem to add anything to the central narrative. Rawi, it would seem, has a problem with telling a story. Full Review

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The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Horror, Historical Fiction

Maybe you've heard about Scarcross Hall? Hidden on the old coffin path that winds from the village to the moor top, the villagers only speak of it in hushed tones - of how it's a foreboding place filled with evil. Mercy Booth has lived there since birth, and she's always loved the grand house and its isolation, but a recurrence of strange events begins to unsettle her. From objects disappearing through to a shadowy presence sensed in the house, mysteries come to light that can only be solved by Mercy unearthing long-buried secrets. And will a dark stranger help Mercy protect everything she has come to love or tear it from her grasp? Full Review

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Walking Wounded by Sheila Llewellyn

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction

David Reece was called up in 1941 and sent to fight in Burma. On his return in 1946, he finds a return to civilian life quite beyond him and, after a brawl, is sent to a military psychiatric hospital. There, he is treated by Daniel Carter, a psychiatrist whose instincts tell him that talking therapies can work with men like David, but who is working in a profession enthusiastically adopting invasive procedures such as ECT and lobotomy. Walking Wounded follows both men as they both try to come to terms with traumatic experiences and find a place in a world moving on from WWII. Full Review

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction

So, you arrive in all ignorance at Auschwitz, and see the horror there, and immediately swear to survive the ordeal to see retribution dealt on those behind it, but what do you do to see that oath out? Do you get to work diligently as the Nazis demand, to the extent you get the word collaborator muttered behind your back? Do you dare to stick your neck out and get a job that means you're actually a Jew working in the political wing of the SS, answerable to Berlin? Do you dare get contacts with civilian workers building the place, and trade the loot purloined from the incoming victims' belongings with food they smuggle in for you, under the eyes of all the camp guards? The man whose real life story inspired this novel did all that, and survived to tell the tale, but he also managed to do something even more daring, and unexpected – he dared to invest hope in a burgeoning love that he found in the camp. Full Review

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The Optickal Illusion: A very eighteenth-century scandal by Rachel Halliburton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction

Rachel Halliburton's debut novel opens in London in January 1797. Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, is reflecting on the past year's scandal involving the Provises, father and daughter, and worries that he handled everything poorly. From the start the book's figurative language is appropriately full of colour and painterly techniques: 'He had intended to deal with them honourably, but now everyone in London was saying he had not. It was as if somebody had dropped a small amount of ivory black paint into yellow orpiment on a palette – the more he prodded and stirred the memory, the murkier it became.' Full Review

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W by John Banks

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Historical Fiction, General Fiction

On the slopes of Mt Hood in Oregon, an 1000-year old Viking is discovered frozen - three thousand miles further west than any previously known Viking exploration. Josh Kinninger is inspired by the Viking discovery - three personal catastrophes having left him angry, unmoored and with his world in turmoil. Beginning a journey westward, he's filled with a desire to wreak vengeance on the individuals he finds morally corrupt. Full Review

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

3.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

Christmas at Woolworths is the sequel to wartime saga The Woolworths Girls, and continues the story where the first book left off. Members of the close-knit community in Erith are doing their best to pull together and keep morale high, even though the future is uncertain. At the heart of the neighbourhood, the home of kindly matriarch Ruby is a beacon where family and friends can gather for good food and conversation: a way to forget the troubles outside. Spirits remain high; even when the bombs are falling so close to home. We catch up with the three friends from the first book: Sarah yearns for peace and an end to the war, Maisie is desperate for a child and Freda would love to find romance. Will they all get their wishes this Christmas? Full review...

The Last Hours by Minette Walters

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

In June 1348 the Black Death came into the country through the port of Melcombe in Dorset. Ignorant of many rules of hygiene which we'd find basic nearly seven hundred years later, the disease rages through the country. On the estate of Develish, Lady Anne Develish took control of the future of the people who lived in the demesne after her husband had ridden off to try and secure a marriage for his daughter. Two hundred bonded serfs lived on the estate and when Lady Anne realised the virulence of the plague she ordered that the estate refuse entry to anyone, including her husband and his entourage, for fear that they would bring the disease to her people. Full review...

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting and Paul Russell Grant (Translator)

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

While his grandfather lived the past was an area of certainty for Edvard. At aged 4 he'd been taken to live with his grandparents, having survived the accident that killed his parents. Now his grandfather has died revelations are coming to light showing Edvard his family history is different from what he'd believed… his mother's birthplace, his mother's name, the whereabouts of late Great-Uncle Einar… and that's without looking more deeply into the fatal accident itself. Edvard is determined to solve the puzzle, a determination that will take him away from his native Norway to an area of France synonymous with devastation and a remote Scottish island loaded with secrets. Full review...

Kingmaker: Kingdom Come: (Book 4) by Toby Clements

5star.jpg Historical Fiction

1470 dawns and the next chapters of the War of the Roses are ready to play out. King Edward thinks that the future has been settled but treachery is still lurking. Meanwhile Katherine and Thomas also have their world turned upside down when that ledger and a chance comment threaten all they have, including their lives. Full review...

Guns in the North (The Sir Robert Carey Mysteries Omnibus) by P F Chisholm

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

1592: Sir Robert Carey flees the strictures of Elizabethan court – and his creditors – in order to become Deputy Warden of the West March in Carlisle. The Scottish/English borders and those who inhabit them are different from the world he's left behind but it will have to become his world. It's now his job to bring law to the lawless. This isn't easy when every local he comes across has an affinity and a heritage of crime to some degree. For Robert the best thing about the job is its proximity to the woman he loves but he doesn't know what he'll do about that yet either. Meanwhile he soon realises that those who are supposed to be on his side are plotting against him but they don't realise what they're up against. Full review...

The House with the Stained-Glass Window by Zanna Sloniowska and Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator)

4star.jpg Historical Fiction

Marianna, an opera singer in the soon-to-be Ukrainian city of Lviv, is mistakenly shot dead at a political rally in the dying days of the Soviet Union. This novel begins with both anger and hope, as Marianna's coffin is covered in the illegal blue and yellow flag, and her death seems to herald the birth of a new nation. But the day of her funeral is also the day of her daughter's first period – a girl who must learn how to be a woman in this time of drastic change, with no mother to guide her along the way. Full review...

False Lights by K J Whittaker

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

Cornwall, 1817.

What if your worst mistake changed the course of history? Napoleon has crushed the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, and his ex-wife Josephine presides over French-occupied England. Cornwall erupts into open rebellion, and young heiress Hester escapes with Crow, Wellington's former intelligence officer, a half-French aristocrat haunted by his part in the catastrophic defeat. Together, they become embroiled in a web of treachery and espionage as plans are laid to free Wellington from secret captivity in the Scilly Isles and lead an uprising against the French occupation. In a country rife with traitors, Hester and Crow know it is impossible to play such a game as this for long... Full review...

Seven Dead by J Jefferson Farjeon

4star.jpg Historical Fiction

Ted Lyte was petty criminal, but not usually the housebreaking type. He lacked the courage. However, needs must, and whilst feeling down on his luck he decided to try his chances at an isolated house with a shuttered window. ...he might find a bit of alright behind those shutters! Wot abart it? Ted does indeed find something interesting behind the shutters, but it definitely isn't what he'd hoped. In a locked room he finds seven dead bodies; six men and a woman. Fleeing the house in horror, he is pursued and caught by a passing yachtsman, Thomas Hazeldean, who also happens to be a journalist. Fascinated by Ted's story (and a possible scoop), Hazeldean decides to investigate this curious case and its assortment of odd clues, including a portrait shot through the heart, an old cricket ball and a mysterious note written by one of the victims. Full review...

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

The first chapter of Salt Creek opens in Chichester, England, in 1874. Hester Finch is a respected and reasonably wealthy member of her community. But she can't stop her thoughts wandering back to her adolescence, spent on Salt Creek Station in the remote South Australian Coorong region. Hester feels has never felt so alive as then, when we had so little. Full review...

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

5star.jpg Historical Fiction

At the World's Fair in 1962, it seems that all eyes are focused on the future. The Space Needle dominates the landscape, filling people with anticipation about things to come. One visitor, however, has his mind firmly focused on the past. Ernest Young is helping his daughter Ju-ju with a story she is writing for her newspaper; a story about a young immigrant boy who was given away as a prize in a raffle at the World's Fair in 1909. Full review...