Historical Fiction

The Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Reads of the First Half of 2022

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Aurora Lydia Dominguez

Staff Writer

Aurora Lydia Dominguez is a journalist, high school teacher and college professor based in Hollywood, Florida. A journalist at heart, she worked for places like The Miami Herald and J-14 Magazine as a reporter and editor before going from the newsroom to the classroom. Aurora's passions include reading a book on Saturday mornings with her cat Luna, time with her husband Seb and pop rock shows. You can email her at aurily50@hotmail.com.

In all honesty, it took a bit for me to get into historical fiction. As a girl that has always loved her fantasy and romance, for some reason historical reads were never first on my reading radar. But, in the past couple of years, I’ve been more intrigued by these books, both adult and YA, and what stories and background they offer the reader as a whole.

For example, one historical fiction YA that completely won me over recently was a book by Ruta Sepetys called The Fountains of Silence. The story, with had elements of romance and pure drama woven in with true to the past historical elements, is set in a post-war Spain, specifically in Madrid, in 1957. What I loved about this book and the way it lured me with its story, was the writing and the fact that I could tell that while the author incorporated some fictional characters, she definitely researched the history of Spain at the time and made sure the character’s experiences and life mirrored what people would’ve gone through at the time. It was a lovely read that I recommend to many. She also has a new historical fiction book coming out in February, I Must Betray You!

With that said, I am extremely excited to read and welcome a new batch of anticipated historical fiction reads for the early part of 2022. Promising lessons, romance, drama, and intriguing backgrounds, I highly recommend you set aside some room in your TBR for some of these exciting and well-crafted novels coming out soon.

Cover image of "The Mitford Vanishing" by Jessica Fellowes.

The Mitford Vanishing by Jessica Fellowes

This adult historical fiction mystery promises a twisty plot and premise sure you hook you in.

In the story, the year is 1937 and the characters are set in a time when war in Germany has been ongoing and a civil war has started taking over Spain. The Mitford sisters are heavily divided at this time due to their political differences. Also, former maid Louisa Cannon has changed careers to work as a private detective alongside her policeman husband Guy Sullivan. One day, the duo gets a call from writer Nancy, one of the Mitfords, hoping that they can look into why her sister Jessica, a Communist, has vanished in Spain. As the duo begins to look into the disappearance, they find themselves involved with the disappearance of a soldier as well, and then start realizing that the cases might be connected and there are so many secrets that are at times kept behind closed doors, that always seem to come to light at the most unpredictable times.

The book seems perfect for fans of history and wartime period dramas, as well as dysfunctional family narratives that could certainly grasp an eager reader from the first page.

Cover image of "Hotel Portofino" by J.P. O'Connell.

Hotel Portofino by J.P. O’Connell

I am a huge fan of drama in stories, as well as the era known as the Roaring Twenties, which makes me eagerly look forward to this novel.

The book is set in the 1920s in the Italian Riviera, where we follow a wealthy family in the midst of opening an upscale hotel. We follow owner Bella Ainsworth, who is not only being targeted by a sketchy politician trying to involve her in Mussolini’s Italy at the time, but is also struggling with the hotel and its success, as she deals daily with pampered and demanding guests complaining and wanting more and more every moment. Add marriage troubles and a slow recovery for her and her family from the Great War, and you get a story about family, relationships, business and human resistance as whole.

I expect emotional elements and characters that grow and evolve after traumatic times in this book, one that is worth looking forward to.

Cover image of "The Red Palace" by June Hur.

The Red Palace by June Hur

From the wonderful author of the YA title The Forest of Stolen Girls comes a new YA historical fiction tale to look forward to in early 2022.

The story is set in Joseon, Korea in 1758, as we follow main character 18-year-old Hyeon, who has recently gained a position as a palace nurse. This is a time where it’s extremely difficult to pursue a career, especially if you are an illegitimate daughter. Hyeon just wants to make her father proud and focus on work. Yet, one day, her teacher and main mentor is accused of the mysterious murder of four women in one night. Hyeon is now determined to prove her teacher’s innocence, but this quest will lead her to Ejoin, a young policeman who wants to also uncover the truth. But what happens next will chill them to the bone, as it seems like the murders lead to the Crown Prince himself. What will they uncover next?

I love this author’s writing and immersive storytelling, so I am pretty certain this is going to be a fabulous read to add to my collection.

Cover image of "Violeta" by Isabel Allende.

Violeta by Isabel Allende

I adore Isabel Allende and her writing, and will never forget being able to see her speak about her books in Miami about two years ago, so I am truly excited for this one!

The book follows Violeta, a girl with five brothers in 1920. We follow her life throughout 100 years, as she lives through such happenings such as the Spanish Flu and then The Great Depression. She comes of age and finds herself living in a remote land as she meets her first interested suitor. The story is told in letters, and we follow her growth and lessons learned through other historic events such as the fight for women’s rights and pandemics.

I am excited to meet this character and see how Allende brings history and Violeta’s character development to life in this story.

Cover image of "The Christie Affair" By Nina de Gramont.

The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

From the author of The Last September comes a mysterious historical fiction adult read that tries to uncover it all.

The book, set in London in 1925, follows the strange disappearance of Agatha Christie at the time. Apparently, during that time, her husband got tangled and lured into an affair by Miss Nan O’Dea, a sudden happening that puzzled everyone in society at the time and led to Agatha going missing for 11 days. The book then follows these characters, as we try to figure out why and how O’Dea was involved in the sudden disappearance of Christie after the mistress set her sights in her husband, which led to marriage issues.

I am excited to read this one, which seems to promise ups and downs, a look at a scandalous London in the 1920s, and awesome storytelling.

Cover image for "Take My Hand" by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (April 12)

This historical fiction novel targets a time when the forced sterilization of Black women was a reality in the 1970s American South, promising a realistic and thoughtful tale.

The book follows Civil Townsend, who has just finished nursing school, and hopes to help the community as much as she can. She works at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic and she wants to make sure she helps other women with their life and the choices they must make about their bodies. She decides to take a home case, which leads her to India and Erica Williams, sisters that are 11 and 13 years of age, and are currently being mandated to take birth control shots. This is the only way, as part of a poor family, that they can receive and keep welfare benefits for the family and avoid getting pregnant. Their lives take a tragic turn when Civil comes to visit them one day and realizes they both have been sterilized against their knowledge and will.

The story promises drama and lessons, as we will see how Civil handles the situation, and if she will speak up or not. This looks to be a beautifully told story that represents a past reality and decisions that were made to change the future.

The cover image of "Little Souls" by Sandra Dallas.

Little Souls by Sandra Dallas (April 26)

From the acclaimed historical fiction author Sandra Dallas comes a new story for fans of gripping tales.

Set in Colorado in 1918, in the middle of the Flu epidemic, World War I is currently happening and Denver is struggling as different places are desperately converted into hospitals. Helen and Lutie moved to Denver from Ohio after their parents’ passing, seeking change. The sisters have diverse careers, with Helen being a nurse and Lutie working as an advertising designer in a local store, and they want stability and growth. Once there, they thankfully are able to make some money to afford a rental apartment. They are struck with more tragedy when their tenant dies from the flu, and they now have to care for the deceased tenant’s daughter, Dorothy, changing their lives immediately.

What follows is some drama, as Helen is suspected of a sudden murder, and they try to pin it as a casualty of the flu, which makes their lives spiral out of control and brings along many changes ahead. Promising to explore the power of sisterhood and making it through difficult circumstances, this is sure to be a powerful read.

Cover image of "La Hacienda" by Isabel Cañas.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (May 10)

I am excited for this adult historical fiction, which promises to feature supernatural elements.

Set after the Mexican War of Independence, we follow Beatriz, who lost her father to murder and also suddenly lost her home. Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes to her, and she immediately sees this as a chance to be in a new home, relationship, and sanctuary. Yet, little did she expect what come next when she steps into Hacienda San Isidro, an eerie home cloaked in mystery. It seems Rodolfo’s first wife suffered a strange and mysterious demise, and when Beatriz is left alone in the home, she hears voices and seems haunted by the Hacienda, all while Juana, her new husband’s sister, brushes it all off.

The book continues as Beatriz decides to pair up and seek help from Padre Andrés to uncover what’s going on, leading to witchy ideas and happenings. This book seems extremely interesting, filled with thrilling elements to boot.

Are you looking forward to anymore historical reads this 2022? Will you pick any of these up when released? Let me know on Twitter @AuroraMiami. Have a great time reading your way through this new year!