Historical YA Romance Starter Guide

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Do you love the idea of time travel? The idea of jumping into the past and exploring the known and  unknown? I have always been a huge fan of history, and I think that is why I have always been a HUGE fan of Historical Fiction and Historical Fantasy. I am a reader who is always looking to discover more Historical Fiction in Young Adult literature, and because of that, I am going to share some of my favorites with you today! So let’s get started and talk about some crazy good historical reads!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

How can I talk about historical fiction and not mention TID by Cassandra Clare? I can’t. This trilogy, (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess) is fantastic and will wrench your heart out of your chest, turn it to dust, and then revive it once more. Clare does such a great job of mixing her unique world of shadowhunters and downworlders with the dark and romantic world of the 1870s in London. Like always, Clare’s characters are deep and complex with a whole lot of sass and spunk. Her female characters are so inspiring, and the boys in this series will be sure to make you swoon! I love this trilogy and recommend it to everyone!

Synopsis: In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Grey is a book that made me fall in love with historical fiction. And do not get this book mixed up with Fifty Shades of Grey, because it is nowhere near the same type of story. This book is so beautiful. I loved this story because it felt like a new take on a WWII story, a new side of the war that I had never read about or heard of. The characters were so exquisite and interesting and the story was intriguing and one that I could not put down.

Synopsis:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon

I remember being so extremely excited for this book when I heard it was going to be released. I had read other books by Lorie Langdon and was already a huge fan of her writing, but this book really blew my socks off! This is such a clever take on the tale of Oliver Twist that stays true to the original that so many people hold in their hearts, while adding a cool, dark, and unique turn to the story.

Synopsis:

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

I remember when this book hit the shelves of bookstores and took the YA community by storm. I put off reading it for a while, determined to not jump on the bandwagon, but once I opened up the pages of this novel, I was instantly enthralled by the characters and the plot. I always tell people that this series is like a new Sherlock Holmes mystery. The characters are so witty and intelligent, and I am always pulled in by the genius plots of these books! (The other books in the series are Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping from Houdini) It is such a good series, and I cannot wait for the next book!

Synopsis:

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Oh, Outlander… how could I talk about Historical Fiction and romance and NOT talk about Outlander (even though it’s not technically YA)? It is the pillar of the genre, a perfect mix of war, steamy Scottish men, and history! And to add icing on the cake, it has a great Book-to-TV adaptation as well! I fell head-over-heels in love with this story when I first read the book. I wasn’t able to put it down and absolutely loved going straight from reading the book to then watching the show. Gabaldon does such a great job on her research and history that it feels as if you are really stepping foot in the 1700s along with Claire. It is a truly magical story!

 Synopsis:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Want to check out some of my other favorite historical fantasy reads? Here is a list of more books that I really recommend to check out!

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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