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My Top 5 Historical Fiction Books (Five Fall Favorites)

Happy Friday, and welcome to the fifth day of the Five Fall Favorites blog party! We’re getting so close to the finish line!

You can find all of the information about the Five Fall Favorites blog party by seeing my first post from Monday, or by going to the lovely host (Kate Willis Hoppman)’s site, but for a quick recap, each day this week, a group of bloggers is each sharing their five favorite books in a particular genre – the goal being for us all to find some great new reads!

There is also a grand giveaway at the end of all this, with some of the prizes featured below in the images below. You can enter that giveaway by just following this link.

Part of the epic grand prize!

And to add to the excitement, every day there’s also a Kindle deal going on, where you can snag the featured ebook free on Amazon. These are great stories written by many of the authors participating in this blog party, and I encourage you to check them out!

Today’s featured deal is Jim Wood by Rebekah Morris (click this link or the image below to find it)!

So what’s our topic today?

My Top 5 Historical Fiction Books

Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. Most of the first books I remember reading explored some point in history, from the Mandie series, The Magic Tree House books, the American Girl series, and various biographies about historical figures.

Most of all, I enjoy stories that make history come alive; helping me to picture and remember it better. And while I have a love-hate relationship with writing historical fiction (so much research!), I’m almost always up for reading it. That also applies to historical fantasies, which combine my two favorite genres!

I’ve read too many good ones to list over the years, but these are some of my very favorites!


Author: Nadine Brandes

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Target Audience: Young Adult (YA)

What Stuck Out To Me: This is one of my favorite books of all time, hands down. While I’ll admit the main character took me some time to like, I related to him from the start and still cared about his story. And by the end, I loved his character growth. The characters in general were all very relatable, colorful, and realistic.

Speaking of colors, I loved the unique and creative magic system in this one. It made sense and it and the masks fascinated me. The historical setting was well-described and vivid, the romance thread sweet, and the action fast-paced and unpredictable. I enjoyed the fun spin on a real event in history (a plot to blow up the English Parliament – NOT the French Revolution like I incorrectly stated before, haha). Also, Nadine tends to use some of my favorite character-related tropes, so it’s always cool to get to indulge in those, haha.

Tricky Content: Intense action, a magic system based on colors, betrayal, violence, a kiss, drunkenness of minor characters, and subtle references of racism (historically accurate but not portrayed as right).

I Recommend It To: Teens and up that enjoy twisting and mysterious historical fantasies, especially set in 1600’s France.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

Treasure Island

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Genre: Historical fiction

Target Audience: Anyone?

What Stuck Out To Me: I have faint memories of my dad reading this book to my siblings and I when we were younger, but it took me until recently to read it for myself again. Because I grew up watching Treasure Planet (one of my favorites!), the original story actually surprised me a bit, and I enjoyed all the mystery and intrigue as they sought out their treasure.

Of course, having written pirate stories myself, I enjoyed it for that reason; getting to see all the ships, pirate terms, and historical aspects. But I also just enjoyed the characters and how vivid and unique they were. The action kept me on my toes, especially in the later half of the book. Morally, of course I don’t agree with many of the actions the characters took, but I always appreciate getting to explore those issues through the characters.

Tricky Content: Some archaic, racist language (what you’d expect from a historical fiction of that time period), drunkeness and smoking, violence, and deaths.

I Recommend It To: Mature middle grade readers and up that enjoy treasure-hunting pirate stories with action and mystery.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Author: John Boyne

Genre: Historical fiction

Target Audience: Young Adult (YA)

What Stuck Out To Me: I’d heard very little about this book when I picked it up, so it consistently took me by surprise. The Holocaust is a heartbreaking topic, and I thought it was fascinating getting to read a story set on the opposite side than I usually hear about. The contrast of the young protagonists’ innocent narrative voice vs his harsh, cruel surroundings and family actions really made me think.

There’s no easy way to cover this topic, but this book helped me emotionally connect even more to the victims of World War II, especially the Jews, and also imagine the lives of those on the opposing side. The forbidden friendship between the two main characters was both sweet and sad. Emotionally, I’d compare this book to Bridge to Terabithia. A story that may not be light or easy, but that tackles deep themes and sticks with you. It stuck with me.

Tricky Content: An implied affair, upsetting ending, deception, implied violence, and disturbing scenes and descriptions regarding the Holocaust. Many advocate that this is not an accurate look at this part of history, and warn not to take it as facts.

I Recommend It To: Mature middle grade readers and up that want to more deeply contemplate and feel connected to the events of the Holocaust/World War II.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!


Author: Katherine Paterson

Genre: Historical fiction

Target Audience: Middle Grade (MG)

What Stuck Out To Me: Speaking of Bridge to Terabithia, it took me years to realize that the same author also wrote this book, another one I used to read often and enjoy. She has a way of tackling very hard themes and topics in a way that sticks with you, through vivid stories and realistic characters. This book was no different for me.

I loved the protagonist of this story, a hard-working girl with grit and a determination to survive and help her family. Throughout the story, she undergoes a lot of character growth, turning into a strong young woman, despite (or because of) the challenges thrown at her. The thorough picture of what factory life for children in the 1800’s was like is so sad and at times very disturbing, and I learned a lot from this book. Though it doesn’t have a ‘happy’ ending, per se, it is satisfying and hints toward a better future for the protagonist.

Tricky Content: Depictions of child labor, exploitation of underage workers, children experiencing neglect, poverty, and girls receiving harassment and inappropriate attention from grown supervisors, a teenage pregnancy, and a character’s short confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

I Recommend It To: Mature middle grade readers and up that want to learn more about the 1800’s factory lives of many children from a ‘first-hand’ perspective.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Genre: Historical fiction

Target Audience: Adults

What Stuck Out To Me: This is one of the longest books I’ve read, and I really liked it. The sheer volume meant that it was able to go in-depth into the lives of several main characters, switching viewpoints from chapter to chapter. All of the characters’ lives intertwined at some point, and I found it fascinating to see how everything came together by the end of the book.

The themes and topics here aren’t easy to consider, but I appreciated how much this book made me think and really contemplate what life would have been like for African Americans during the Civil Rights movement. Of course one story by someone who didn’t live it can’t be completely accurate, but the research done was obvious, and the plot and surroundings felt very deep and nuanced. All of the characters were realistic and relatable, and had vivid personalities and growth. I came away saddened, but also inspired by it.

Tricky Content: Miscarriage, frequent smoking and drinking, mild to severe language, racist terms, phrases, and views from characters, abuse, some violence, and disturbing scenes. Again, many warn that this is not an accurate depiction of what African Americans went through during this time period, so obviously remember it is an educated story and read with discernment.

I Recommend It To: Young adults and up that want a deep and often even disturbing exploration of what the people involved in the Civil Rights movement may have suffered.

Here’s the link to add it on Goodreads!

We’ve reached the end of day five of the Five Fall Favorites blog party! What are some of your favorite historical fiction reads? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

Again, check out Kate’s host post here, for a full list of other bloggers participating and so that you can find even more book recommendations! Don’t forget to join the giveaway here, and pick up the daily Kindle deal (Jim Wood by Rebekah Morris), here!

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