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90+ Of Your Favorite Works of Historical Fiction

Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

This week’s Riot Recommendation is sponsored by To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey.

to the bright edge of the worldIn the winter of 1885, decorated hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an impossible expedition: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn’t return.

Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point.

Historical fiction allows us to imagine a time period we’ll never experience (and for most of history: thank God), to roll around in the sights and smells and events of days gone by. Alternative history takes it a step farther, transporting us back in time and then imagining what might have been. So here are Riot Readers’ favorite works of historical fiction:

Distant Marvels by Chantel Acevedo

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

The Birthday Boys, Every Man For Himself, Young Adolf, Master Georgie, and According To Queenie, all by Beryl Bainbridge

City of Thieves by David Benioff

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick

Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Saxon Tales series by Bernard Cornwell

The Dust that Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernieres

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Rebels and Traitors, Master and God by Lindsey Davis

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Corrag by Susan Fletcher


Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez

Goddess by Kelly Gardiner

A Good American by Alex George

Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The Physician (part 1 of Cole series), Shaman (part 2) and The Last Jew (standalone) by Noah Gordon

I, Claudius, and Claudius The God, both by Robert Graves

Hild by Nicola Griffyth

At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen

The Big Sky, The Way West, These thousand Hills, Fair Land Fair Land, all by A. B. Guthrie

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

Coventry by Helen Humphreys

Deafening by Frances Itani

Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones

The Far Pavilions by MM Kaye

Legacy by Susan Kay

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Agency Series by Y.S. Lee

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies, and A Place Of Greater Safety, all by Hilary Mantel

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka

Dead Man’s Walk by Larry McMurtry

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Corn King and the Spring Queen by Naomi Mitchison

Bernice Morgan’s novel Random Passage and its sequel Waiting for Time

Queen’s Bastard by C.E. Murphy

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Daughter of Lir by Diana Norman

Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O’Brien

Instance of the Fingerpost Iain Pears

When Christ and His Saints Slept, and Falls the Shadow, both by Sharon Kay Penman

He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Oliver Pötzsch’s Hangman’s Daughter series

Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon

The King Must Die by Mary Renault

The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell

London by Edward Rutherfurd

The Girl who Played Go by Shan Sa

Katherine and Avalon by Anya Seton

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The Ptolemies by Duncan Sprott

Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth series

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Very Rich Hours Of Count Von Stauffenberg, and The Women Of Whitechapel And Jack The Ripper, both by Paul West

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak