Newest Historical Fiction Reviews

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A Treachery of Spies by Manda Scott

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

When Inspector Inès Picaut is called to investigate the horrific murder of a strikingly beautiful elderly lady, she's puzzled – whilst the identity of the woman has been erased, it's clear that she has been killed in the same way that traitors to the resistance were executed in World War Two. Solving the mystery will lead Inès deep into the history of this woman – and back to a time when the men and women of 1940s France were engaged in a desperate, brutal fight for survival against their Nazi oppressors. As more and more secrets come to light, Inès discovers that there are many in the present who would rather their past stay buried – and many who would kill to keep secrets safe… Full Review

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Murmuration by Robert Lock

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

Murmuration follows the lives of a host of characters from 1863 to the present day. From a risqué comic to a fortune teller, we see the birth of Blackpool and its steadily fading glamour. There is a hint of mysticism to the tale, with the mesmerising dance of starlings over the pier acting as an anchor throughout the distinct narratives here, drawing together disparate stories of lives captivated by the sea. Full Review

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The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H Winthrop

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

In an isolated Louisiana town, a young black prisoner sits in his dingy cell, staring at the shadow of the window bars cast onto the concrete wall by the evening's dying sun rays. At midnight, he will be dead; strapped to a chair and electrocuted for the rape of a white girl, who later committed suicide. He is resigned to his fate; it is futile to protest his innocence or to expect anyone to believe what really happened; after all, love between a black man and a white woman was never going to have a happy ending in a small town filled with small-minded people. Full Review

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A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

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

Witchcraft, the supernatural and the will to survive at all costs collide in a story that never shies away from the darker side of human nature. The land is unhappy, the old spirits want revenge and famine is kindling a resurgence of the old faith. As fear rises, it is increasingly difficult for Prioress Johanne to ignore that something rotten has taken root. The sacred well is tainted, its healing waters run red with blood and strangers are blowing in on a wind of change. Full Review

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Mr Peacock's Possessions by Lydia Syson

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

On a remote volcanic island off the coast of New Zealand, a family of settlers struggle to make such an unforgiving place a home. When a ship appears, they feel that their wishes have been granted and their community reinvigorated – but high hopes are swiftly dashed when a vulnerable boy disappears. As both settlers and newcomers come together in the search for the child, they uncover far, far more than they were looking for – discovering dark secrets about both the island and those who inhabit it. Full Review

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The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

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

Audrey, a complex mix of flights of fancy and seriousness, wanting, needing, to be more than what everyone expects of her, escapes from the straightjacket of her home. Where every action, every thought, every yearning is controlled by her father, who only once in his life threw caution to the wind and married way beneath him for love. Now a widower and remarried, he has rigorously returned to upholding what is right, what is proper, the bastion of doing what is expected. Full Review

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The Butcher's Daughter by Victoria Glendinning

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

The Tudor era is often chosen for historical fiction because it has such a wealth of intrigue, plots and machinations. The regular cast of courtly characters are usually rich and powerful, with so many to choose from that the well never seems to run dry and the characters are often those high up in the circles of power, or those prepared to do anything to get there. This book, however, is totally different. Set in the mid–to–late 1500s we see the world through the eyes of Agnes Peppin, a young, poor woman. As a woman she can either marry, or join a convent. Since Agnes has disgraced herself then she has no choice at all, and she is sent to join the nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey. Full Review

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Silence in the Desert by David Longridge

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

As the shadow of the Second World War descends upon the planet, four people are explored in a tale of love and friendship. Henri, fulfilling a family tradition in joining the Foreign Legion, Bill, arriving at Cambridge on an RAF scholarship, Leo, struggling to align his beliefs with those of his upbringing, and Elisabeth, crossing continents and changing names are all brought together by strife and turmoil. As the war rages, these men are tested like never before, with trust, loyalty and love leading to decisions that affect both their lives and those all around them. Full Review

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Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

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

When it comes to Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, popular opinion is divided. Some see her as a scheming marriage-wrecker from an ambitious family who would stop at nothing to gain favour in the king's eyes. Others view her as a pious and God-fearing woman who brought calm and stability into Henry's life following his turbulent marriage to Anne Boleyn. Perhaps both sides are true, to an extent. In The Haunted Queen, the third book in the Six Tudor Queens series, author and historian Alison Weir puts flesh on the bones of a Queen haunted by the shadow of a formidable predecessor. Full Review

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In Gold's Name by Marcus Dalrymple

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

It was about 1509 when a series of mystical events foreshadowed the end of the Aztec Empire and the inhabitants were to some extent conditioned to accept the pale faces who arrived many years later with their deer-without-antlers. Some thought the Spaniards were gods. Antonio Vega was no god, but he was essentially a decent man, particularly by the standards of the time. He was the finest marksman with his harquebus on the force, but at the age of twenty three he believed that the expedition in October 1520 was to establish trade links and to convert the local inhabitants to Christianity from the local religions which required human sacrifices. He'd joined the army from a seminary and whilst you wouldn't call him naive, he'd failed to appreciate that 'establishing trade links' meant finding and removing the Aztec gold and that any conversion would not be by winning hearts and minds but by threats and torture. Full Review

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The Industry of Human Happiness by James Hall

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

The Industry of Human Happiness first and foremost is a novel about music. It is about human beings being able to find music and magic in the simplest of places. Max and his younger cousin have realised their dream of opening a gramophone company. However, their ambition and hubris soon puts them on a course towards London's underworld. They will ascend broken and their lives changed forever. Full Review

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The Spirit Photographer by Jon Michael Varese

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

Jon Michael Varese's debut novel was inspired by the life story of the real-life father of spirit photography, William H. Mumler. His fictional stand-in here is Edward Moody, who was a battlefield photographer under Matthew Brady and now owns his own photography studio in Boston. Moody is dismissive of spiritualism, yet considers himself to be doing a service to the bereaved by fabricating family photographs in which the ghost of a departed loved one appears. This involves getting hold of an image of the loved one and superimposing it on the negative being developed, so that it seems to appear hazily in the background. Looking back from today's high-tech perspective, it's hard to see how anyone could have been fooled, but suffering people in desperate situations often want to believe; the same goes for séances. Full Review


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Precept: A Novel by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

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

Nathan Whyte is tremendously excited about the arrival of Frederick Douglass in Ireland. And even more excited that his Quaker father, who is publishing the British edition of Narrative, Douglass's memoir of his life as a slave, will be accompanying the famous black American abolitionist on his speaking tour. Nathan is deeply impressed by Douglass, who is a charismatic figure and a gifted orator. But Ireland will have as big an impact on Frederick Douglass as Frederick Douglass will have on it. We watch him through Nathan's eyes as he sees for himself the beginnings of the horrors of the potato famine and meets and befriends the famous Irish nationalist, Daniel O'Connell. Full Review

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The Indomitable Chiesa di Santa Maria by Daniel Peltz

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

When we first visit the Chiesa di Santa Maria we're in the company of Molly Cavendish who is a part-time guide at the Museo di Santa Maria, which is what the ruins of the Chiesa - a chapel - have now become. Crowds flock to see its centrepiece, a renaissance fresco with a history which grabs the attention of young and old. Molly uses the history to entertain the tourists, but there's more too it than she knows, particularly as the history of the building is also the history of the Vannini family, who helped in building the chapel some six hundred years ago and one of whose descendants is the director of the museum. Full Review

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Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley

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

Lady Mary chronicles the famous story of Henry VIII's love affair with Anne Boleyn, his divorce from Katherine of Aragon, Anne's execution for adultery, and Henry's subsequent marriage to Jane Seymour, which finally produces the much longed for birth of a male heir. This time, the story is told through the eyes of an important but often neglected player - Henry's young daughter, Mary. Mary's hopes of her family staying together are crushed by the divorce and she is treated terribly by a father under the influence of the Boleyn faction. Lady Mary follows her through these awful years and you can't help but root for the little girl stuck in the middle of these tumultuous events. Full Review

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My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

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

You are a lass of twenty eight. Plucky, penniless and in Regency era London the race is on to find a suitable suitor - or else doom yourself to life as an eternal spinster. Along your journey you'll be accompanied by Lady Evangeline Youngblood - a fiesty noble eager to save you from a life alone, and fired by a rogueish sense for adventure. When it comes to suitors though, you'll have to make the ultimate decision between witty, pretty and wealthy Sir Benedict Granville, wholesome, rugged and caring Captain Angus MacTaggart, or the mad, bad and terrifyingly sexy Lord Garraway Craven. With orphans, werewolves, long lost lovers and ancient Egyptian artifcats along the way, it's clear this isn't going to be an easy decision... Full Review

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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

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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