From ancient Egypt to the grunge era, historical fiction novels are a fun immersive way to experience the past! Even if you’re not into togas or petticoats, sometimes it’s nice to escape modern times and immerse yourself in the action and drama in a different time period. Here is a list of our favorite historical fiction novels, and what makes them special!
13 Historical Fiction Books You Don’t Want to Miss
1. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Set at the turn of the 20th century in Edwardian England, a new generation of Shadowhunters works to solve the mystery of the illness that is plaguing their society. Everything you love about a Shadowhunters book mixed with the charm and class of early 1900s England makes this book an absolute must-read.
2. Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle
In this timely novel, Margarita Engle explores World War II on the home front, as seen through the eyes of those who were part of the Zoot Suit Riots in LA. Told entirely in verse, this important yet often-ignored part of American history is also a great pick for poetry lovers!
3. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
No historical fiction list is complete without Fever 1793, which serves as a lot of people’s first foray into the genre. During the summer of 1793, Philadelphia was overrun with yellow fever. Fourteen-year-old Mattie must fight to stay alive through heat, panic, and chaos caused by the outbreak of a deadly disease.
4. The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann
In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women in the early 20th century whose lives intersect when they are locked up by a world that took the poor, the disabled, the marginalized—and institutionalized them for life.
5. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Not just a historical fiction, but a time-traveling fantasy! Esta, a talented thief of magical artifacts, must go back to the New York City of 1902 in order to stop the dark Magician from destroying the Maegus’s last hope of survival.
6. Angel Thieves by Kathi Appelt
An ocelot. A slave. An angel thief. Multiple perspectives spanning across time are united through themes of freedom, hope, and faith in a most unusual and epic novel from Newbery Honor–winning author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt.
7. Anastasia and Her Sisters by Carolyn Meyer
Life as a Russian royal is anything but the fairy tale, especially for Anastasia Romanov. Her brother and the heir to the throne suffers from a painful blood disease, which has caused the tsarina to seek counsel from Rasputin, a man whose true intentions are a mystery to the entire court. But these problems soon pale in comparison to national upheaval when Germany declares war and the starving poor revolt.
8. Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper
After losing her family, being torn away from everything she knows to be sold into slavery, Amari is only concerned with survival. The goodness she finds does little to soothe the humiliation and despair she feels daily, but with the help and hope a real and true friendship provides, Amari begins to believe she can reclaim her freedom.
9. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
After being rescued by the Shadowhunters, Tessa Gray finds herself thrown into a world of demons and dangerous magic, where an evil Magister hopes to corrupt her newfound powers for his own devices. There’s action, mystery, magic, and romance, all you can expect from a Cassandra Clare series!
10. Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
The series starts when Isabel is only thirteen in Chains, but she endures hardships beyond her years, in the hopes of reuniting with her sister Ruth, who was sold to a Southern plantation. Laurie Halse Anderson is an expert at exploring the nuance of what it meant to fight not just for your country’s freedom, but your own. In the exciting and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, Isabel and her friend Curzon will witness the Battle of Yorktown.
11. Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes
Yuki Nakahara, like many Americans of Japanese descent, was sent to an internment camp in the Utah desert after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the hopes of fighting this injustice, he enlists in the Army. But he is not ready for the segregation and prejudice that awaits him on the front line, or back at home—if he returns—in this little-known history of the Japanese Americans who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.
12. The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee
Stella dreams of being a space engineer and Galliard has only ever known life inside Red Sun, the local hippie commune. The day Stella and Galliard meet, there is something in the air in their small town. Literally. So begin weeks of pink lightning, bloodred rain, unexplained storms…And a countdown clock appears mysteriously above the town hall. With time ticking down to some great unknowable end they’ll each have to make a choice.
13. What Every Girl Should Know by J. Albert Mann
This compelling historical novel spans the early and very formative years of feminist and women’s health activist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, as she struggles to find her way amidst the harsh realities of poverty.