Celebrating a subgenre: Historical Fantasy

Today’s Wyrd & Wonder prompt is ‘Historical Fantasy’, a subgenre that basically combines two of my favourite genres: fantasy and historical fiction. I love it, because I like learning about history through fiction and I enjoy reading about magic. It’s also interesting to see how history would have been different if magic was involved. Here is my top five historical fantasy books:

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
This book is amazing! It’s the best example of historical fantasy I have read so far. The Embroidered Book is a great historical novel with an incredbily well-thought-out magic system. It’s the story of Marie Antoinette and her sister Charlotte, if they would have a book of spells. The spell book gives them power, but every spell requires a sacrifice

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Malaysia, in the 19th century. Her father asks Li Lan if she would like to become a ghost bride. A rich family wants her to marry their recently deceased son. While considering this proposal, Li Lan becomes involved in the Chinese afterlife. It’s an interesting world with ghost cities, corrupt officers and some vicious ghosts. I loved how the writer combined real Chinese practices with folklore and her imagination.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This book is set in the 1920’s, but inspired by Maya mythology. The result is a unique story with ancient gods and demons walking through modern Mexico City. The world-building is amazing and the story also has a couple of great characters. Especially Hun-Kamé, the God of Death. At the beginning of the book he’s a cold and quite awful character. At the end of the story I actually liked him.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
A fun and very enjoyable story! This is a magical retelling of the life of Lady Jane Grey. She lived in England during the 16th century and is also known as the Nine Days Queen. Jane is about to become involved in a conspiracy and is going to mary a stranger who regularly turns into a horse.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Vasya lives in a small Russian village where it’s always winter. During the cold nights people tell each other stories about a demon that claims unwary souls. Vasya knows these stories aren’t just fairy tales, because she can see the spirits. The writer managed to create a very atmospheric world based on Russian folklore.


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