8 Best Historical Fiction Books You Must Read

Is it possible to travel through time? The judgment is still out for theoretical physicists, but book lovers may confidently say “no.”

Whether you want to go to biblical Judaea or experience the turmoil of World War II firsthand, historical fiction can transport you to the hues and textures of a distant or current past.

If you’re bored of the present, look no further: here are 8 of the finest historical fiction novels to transport you to another era.

We’re drawn to the past for a reason. History cannot be avoided. Decisions are based on previous occurrences, and the stories of people who came before us have an impact on our lives.

Historical fiction works appeal to current readers because they allow us to immerse ourselves in a different era.

From the fields of Ancient Greece to the trenches of WWI, each of the historical fiction novels on this list recounts the story of a different individual.

Let’s dive in.


Best Historical Fiction Books

1. A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

1. A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

About the Book

“A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel” written by New York Times bestselling author Amor Towels is a tale about a man who is instructed to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

A Bolshevik tribunal declares Count Alexander Rostov an unrepentant aristocrat in 1922, and he is condemned to house detention at the Metropol, a magnificent hotel across the street from the Kremlin.

Rostov, an irrepressible man of wit and erudition, has never worked a day in his life and is now forced to reside in an attic room as some of Russia’s most turbulent decades occur outside the hotel’s doors.

Surprisingly, his decreased circumstances allow him to enter a far broader universe of emotional exploration.

Book Review

This is the book for you if you’re searching for a summer read. A story about a Russian aristocrat stranded in Moscow during the tumultuous 1930s, beautifully written.

It’s an old-fashioned novel in the finest sense of the phrase, brimming with intellect, erudition, and insight.

Any moment is a good time to read this book. Even in the weirdest, saddest, and most restricted situations, individuals find ways to be joyful, create relationships, and make a difference in one another’s lives.

Towles resurrects the cinematic black-and-white Manhattan of the golden era with this snappy period drama. His protagonists are young Americans attempting to live real lives in difficult times.

Key Takeaways from the Book

This remarkable work weaves a spell as it chronicles the count’s attempt to develop a better knowledge of what it is to be a man of purpose, brimming with comedy, a dazzling array of people, and one brilliantly depicted scene after another.

About the Author

Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow are New York Times bestsellers by Amor Towles. The two books have sold over four million copies worldwide and have been translated into over thirty languages. Towles, his wife, and their two children live in Manhattan.

Book Details

You can purchase this book in Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, and Hardback versions.

  • Author: Amor Towels
  • Pages: 496 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Poitical Fiction, Historical Thrillers, Political Thrillers.

2. A Rising Man: A Novel (Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries) 

2. A Rising Man: A Novel (Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries) 

About the Book

“A Rising Man: A Novel (Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries)” contributed by Abir Mukherjee is about a newly arrived Scotland detective who is confronted with the murder of a British official.

In the year 1919, Calcutta was the capital of India. Captain Sam Wyndham, a former Scotland Yard detective, has arrived in Calcutta for the first time.

Wyndham has been selected to head up a new job in the police force, desperate for a fresh start following his experiences during the Great War.

He is instantly overwhelmed by the tropical city’s intoxicating vitality, but with hardly enough time to acclimate, he finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation to destabilize a city on the verge of political insurrection.

A senior official’s body was discovered in a dirty sewer, and a letter placed on his lips threatens the British to leave India or face the consequences.

Book Review

This rousing, fascinating debut mystery, which won the Harvill Secker Daily Telegraph crime writing competition, explodes with vibrant, colorful historical information about colonial Calcutta.

A lip-smacking, immensely entertaining mystery set in a Calcutta so brilliantly portrayed that readers’ foreheads will be sweating.

Mukherjee’s remarkable debut and series debut mixes a deftly written whodunit with a unique sitting Calcutta in 1919, as shown with realistic precision. Wyndham’s complex connection with his Indian helper adds to the story’s complexity.

Key Takeaways from the Book

A Rising Man is the first book in an exciting new historical crime series that masterfully evokes the sights, sounds, and scents of colonial Calcutta.

About the Author

The award-winning Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime thrillers set in Raj-era India is written by Abir Mukherjee.

He’s won the CWA Historical Dagger and the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing, as well as being nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger, HWA Gold Crown, and Edgar Allan Poe Award.

Book Details

This book is available in Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audible versions.

  • Author: Abir Mukherjee
  • Pages: 400 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: International Mystery & Crime, Historical Mystery, Police Procedurals.

3. The Book Thief

3. The Book Thief

About the Book

” The Book Thief ” written by Markus Zusak, #1 New York Times bestseller, one of Times Magazine’s 100 Best YA Books of All Time, is an extraordinary, beloved book about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the toughest of times.

It’s the year 1939. Germany during the Nazi era. The country is gasping for air. Death has never been busier, and it will continue to be so.

Liesel Meminger is a foster child living outside of Munich who scrapes by stealing when she comes upon something she can’t live without books.

She learns to read with the help of her accordion-playing foster father and shares her stolen books with her neighbors and the Jewish guy hiding in her cellar during bombing raids.

Book Review

Zusak doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he uses the same harsh, darkly comforting humor that Kurt Vonnegut used in Slaughterhouse-Five to make his seemingly bleak topic tolerable.

The Book Thief is a disturbing and unsentimental novel that is eventually lyrical. Its melancholy and sorrow plays out in the reader’s imagination like a black-and-white film devoid of life’s hues.

Zusak’s heartbreaking ode to language, survival, and their strangely inescapable entwinement is a tour de force that should not only be read but lived.

Because it offers a narrative about books becoming treasures, it will be widely read and loved. And because a feeling like that can’t be argued with.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Award-winning novelist Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most lasting stories of our time in brilliantly constructed prose that burns with passion.

About the Author

Markus Zusak is the author of six worldwide best-selling novels, including The Book Thief and Bridge of Clay.

Zusak’s work has been translated into over forty languages and has spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list, making him one of Australia’s most successful authors.

Book Details

You can buy this book in Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle Edition with Audio/Video, Audible versions.

  • Author: Markus Zusak
  • Pages: 608 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Teen & Young Adult Holocaust Historical Books, Children’s Holocaust Fiction Books, Children’s Orphans & Foster Homes Books.

4. The Book of Night Women

4. The Book of Night Women

About the Book

“The Book of Night Women” written by Marlon James is the Winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for a Brief History of 7 killings.

Lilith was born into slavery on a sugar plantation in Jamaica towards the end of the eighteenth century. Even before she is born, the slave women who surround her sense a terrible force that they and she will grow to adore and dread.

The Night Women, as they are known, have been preparing a slave uprising for a long time, and Lilith’s coming of age is seen as crucial to their preparations.

However, as Lilith comes to terms with her own thoughts, desires, and identity, she begins to test the boundaries of what is possible for a slave woman’s existence and risks becoming the conspiracy’s weak link.

But it is Marlon James, a young writer at once breath­takingly audacious and completely in command of his craft, who is the true discovery of the book the key to the stirring imagery and forceful writing.

Book Review

Beautifully written and heartbreaking. James has performed an experiment in how to write the unspeakable even the unthinkable in the tradition of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker but in his own manner. And the experiment’s findings are undeniably positive.

One can’t help but be drawn in by the narrative voice and the rich and convincing details. This is a novel to fall in love with. The Book of Night Women is difficult to pick up and much more difficult to put down yet it is well worth reading.

Marlon James has produced a stunning, haunting, and gorgeous story that is difficult to put down. The Book of Night Women, like the finest literature, needs to be passed down from generation to generation.

Key Takeaways from the Book

The Book of Night Women is a real achievement of voice and storytelling, resonating with both profound sincerity and decidedly modern vitality.

About the Author

Marlon James was born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica in 1970. A Brief History of Seven Killings, his most recent work, was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

Book Details

You can get this book in Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook formats.

  • Author: Marlon James
  • Pages: 448 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Black & African American Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction.

5. The Bourbon Thief: A southern gothic novel

5. The Bourbon Thief: A southern gothic novel

About the Book

“The Bourbon Thief: A southern gothic novel” written by Tiffany Reisz is about betrayal, revenge, and a family scandal that comes a 150-year-old-mystery.

Cooper McQueen discovers he’s been robbed when he wakes up from a night with a gorgeous stranger. A million-dollar bottle of bourbon was the only thing taken.

The thief, a strange woman named Paris, asserts ownership of the bottle. After all, the label claims to be the property of the Maddox family, who owned and ran the Red Thread Bourbon distillery from the Civil War’s last days until it closed for unknown reasons.

Except for Paris, no one. Paris tells the harrowing story of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire, in the early hours of a Louisville morning. Theirs is a heritage of money and power, but it is also a legacy of deception and secrets.

The reason Paris desires the bottle of Red Thread will remain a mystery until the truth about her identity is exposed, and Tamara’s century-old revenge against her family may finally be carried out.

Book Review

She tests the limits, and she tests the limits a lot. Tiffany Reisz is a brilliant storyteller, and luckily for us, she has much more to tell.

Someone is going to have to pull this book from your grip. The Prince defies categorization and will leave readers gasping for air.

Tiffany Reisz’s debut novel, The Bourbon Thief, is a thrilling change from her previous work. She enthralls the reader once more with her perfect mastery of one-of-a-kind characters and razor-sharp dialogue.

The narrative is both thrilling and disgusting in a way that only she can pull off, and it packs a surprising impact.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Tamara Maddox’s story is not for the faint of heart. It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl with a strong will who is a victim of circumstance.

About the Author

Mt. Hood is home to Tiffany Reisz. She earned a B.A. in English from Centre College and is now publishing erotica under her own name, much to the delight of her parents and teachers.

Book Details

You can obtain this book in Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, MP3 CD versions.

  • Author: Tiffany Reisz
  • Pages: 384 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, Contemporary Literature & Fiction, Family Life Fiction.

6. Doc: A Novel

6. Doc: A Novel 

About the Book

“Doc: A Novel” contributed by Mary Doria Russell is a National Bestseller.

Dr. John Henry Holliday, a Southern gentleman, comes on the Texas frontier believing that the dry air and sunshine will help him recover his health.

Doc Holliday is soon gambling professionally with his companion, Mária Katarina Harmony, a high-strung, classically trained Hungarian whore, due to a lack of work possibilities. The pair visits Dodge City’s saloons in quest of high-stakes poker.

And it’s there that the unexpected relationship between Doc Holliday and a courageous lawman called Wyatt Earp begins before the shootout at the O.K. Corral immortalizes their names in American frontier mythology.

Book Review

Mary Doria Russell develops fascinating people that navigate the world of new ideas and serious moral dilemmas without ever losing their humanity or humor in clear, easy writing and with compelling flashes of wit.

Russell is an exceptional natural storyteller whose humor, intelligence, and dramatic abilities have us turning the pages with bated breath.

The action proceeds quickly, with a strong sense of authority, frantic language, colorful characters, and careful, surprising historical detail.

Russell’s tale is intense and intimate, and her incisive character writing and a strong sense of humor give this compelling epic a new immediacy.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Doc is the narrative of John Henry Holliday, told with compassion, humor, and respect by one of our finest modern storytellers.

About the Author

The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, and Dreamers of the Day are among Mary Doria Russell‘s past best-selling novels.

Book Details

This book can be obtained in Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook versions.

  • Author: Mary Doria Russell
  • Pages: 417 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Biographical Literary Fiction, Historical Biographical Fiction.

7. The Dovekeepers: A Novel

The Dovekeepers: A Novel

About the Book

“The Dovekeepers: A Novel” written by Alice Hoffman is an ambitious and mesmerizing novel with a devotion and seriousness of purpose.

On Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert, about two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out against Roman forces for months. Two women and five children survived, according to Josephus, the ancient historian.

Hoffman’s story is a fascinating narrative of four exceptionally courageous, resourceful, and sensual women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different road, based on this terrible and legendary event.

Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, a skilled assassin, never forgave her.

Revka, a rural baker’s woman, witnesses her daughter’s death by Roman troops and sends her young grandchildren to Masada, who have been struck speechless by what they have seen.

In the last days of the siege, the lives of these four complicated and fiercely independent women collide. All of them are dovekeepers, and they all have secrets to hide about who they are, where they came from, who fathered them, and who they love.

Book Review

Whether you’re a member of a book club or not, The Dovekeepers should be on your list of must-reads. A whole new world may open up to you that you weren’t expecting.

The Dovekeepers is a fantastic novel. It will linger in my mind for a long time. It takes place in the year 70 AD, which is much further back than any historical fiction.

Alice Hoffman’s work has a poetic quality to it, and you may get lost in it. A great story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Key Takeaways from the Book

This narrative follows four ladies as they flee their homes in the face of an approaching Roman invasion. While enduring tremendous hardships, the book elegantly portrays their rituals, religion, and experiences.

About the Author

Magic Lessons, The World That We Knew, Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic, the Oprah’s Book Club pick Here on Earth, The Red Garden, The Dovekeepers, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and Faithful are just a few of Alice Hoffman‘s works of fiction.

Book Details

This book can be bought in Paperback, Kindle, Audible, Hardcover forms.

  • Author: Alice Hoffman
  • Pages: 403 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Jewish American Fiction, Jewish Literature, Movie Tie-In Fiction.

8. The Fair Fight: A Novel

8. The Fair Fight: A Novel

About the Book

“The Fair Fight: A Novel” contributed by Anna Freeman is named a Best Book of the Year by Book Page and Library Journal.

The Fair Fight is a vibrant, propulsive historical book proclaiming the advent of dynamic new talent, moving from a dirty brothel to a beautiful manor house, from the world of street fighters to the world of champions.

Ruth, who was born in a brothel, doesn’t have high hopes for her future. Ruth’s harsh looks send her on a road of hardship, while her sister’s beauty provides some solace.

That is until she meets pugilist patron George Dryer and learns her true calling: bare-knuckle fighting in Bristol’s prize rings. Charlotte, who was born in a manor, has a distinct burden to bear.

Ruth is sidelined after a terrible, life-changing conflict, and the two ladies meet, and it changes both of their viewpoints. Ruth encourages Charlotte to enter the ring herself and understand the power of her own strength with an unexpected proposition.

The Fair Fight is a boisterous, exhilarating narrative of daring, reinvention, and battling one’s way to the top. It is a compelling, page-turning novel of people striving to transcend the circumstances into which they were born and fighting for their own places in society.

Book Review

A page-turning book set in the world of female pugilists and their clients in late eighteenth-century England, The Crimson Petal and the White meets Fight Club.

This is a fantastic debut novel because of Freeman’s knowledge of this tough and filthy time of history and her beautifully conceived cast of people, who are often down but never out.

The Fair Fight portrays the spirit of eighteenth-century Bristol’s female pugilists and their supporters in sensual, evocative writing. It’s a fantastic piece of writing, an engrossing, raunchy narrative of desire, class struggle, and surprising friendship.

Key Takeaways from the Book

This great debut novel is made possible by Anna Freeman’s knowledge with this harsh and bawdy time of history, as well as she beautifully conceived cast of people, who are frequently down but never out.

About the Author

During the drafting of this book, Anna Freeman supported herself by bartending at the Hatchet Inn in Bristol, the exact pub where female pugilism began over two centuries ago.

Book Details

This book can be purchased in Paperback and Hardback versions.

  • Author: Anna Freeman
  • Pages: 480 (Paperback)
  • Category/Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction.

Final Verdict

We want to travel across time and space, therefore we read historical fiction. This list, I think, provides the most comprehensive perspective of our world’s common history. Happy Reading!


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