Hoohoo, friends of the blade!
I love history and I love historical novels! Especially those with a little twist. Wether it’s a person getting another gender or adding fantastical elements, I love the twists. So of course, I had to make a list with some recommendations!
My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
The Lady Janies #3
Welcome to 1876 and a rootin’-tootin’ America bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou.
JANE (a genuine hero-eene)
Calamity’s her name, and garou hunting’s her game—when she’s not starring in Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, that is. She reckons that if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.
FRANK (*wolf whistle*)
Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler is the Wild West’s #1 bachelor. He’s also the best sharpshooter on both sides of the Mississippi, but he’s about to meet his match. . . .
ANNIE (get your gun!)
Annie Oakley (yep, that Annie) is lookin’ for a job, not a romance, but she can’t deny there’s something about Frank she likes. Really likes. Still, she’s pretty sure that anything he can do, she can do better.
A HAIRY SITUATION
After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s been talk of a garou cure. But things ain’t always what they seem—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.
I truly love the Lady Janies books! This is the third book in the series but it doesn’t have to do anything with the others and can be read separately. It’s incredibly funny, it has the wild west mixed with werewolves and really cool characters. I’ve always been fascinated by Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane and thus enjoyed reading about them in a novel that doesn’t entirely takes itself seriously. Loved it!
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The Daevabad Trilogy #1
In the markets of eighteenth century of Cairo, thieves, tricksters, con artists and outcasts eke out a living swundling rich nobles and foreign invaders alike.
But alongside this new world, the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits, of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert – full of enchantment, desire and riches – where magic pours down every street hanging in the air like that.
Many wish their lives could be filled with wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and slights of hand, there’s nothing magical about her. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…
The Daevabad Trilogy is one of my favourite series ever. It has beautiful characters and a rich world building. It is set in Cairo and the fictional city of Daevabad as well as on the road there from Cairo. It mixes magic and history incredibly well. Absolutely loving this series!
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
The Radiant Emperor #1
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
This novel is quite slow-paced, but very detailed and focuses on the characters and their development. It plays well with history and characters that are really, really queer. I really enjoyed the world building and how important the character development was!
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
These Violent Delights #1
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang-a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns-and grudges-aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
This Romeo & Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai is absolutely fantastic! It has great characters, interesting conflicts and such an exciting romance. I adore this series so, so much! History is mixed with Romeo & Juliet and monsters and rounded well off by highly enjoyable characters. (review)
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
The Gilded Wolves #1
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
This is such a beautiful book. The whole vibe it gives is sparkling gold and secrets. It features the beautiful sides of Paris as well as a magical underworld full of conflicts and secrets. The Gilded Wolves comes with a beautiful cast of characters that come together to make a wonderful family. I love this series so much!
And I Darken by Kiersten White
The Conqueror’s Saga #1
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
I am here for unhinged female characters! Basically this is a retelling of Vlad the Impaler’s life but Vlad is a girl. And she goes absolutely feral, fighting for her place in the world and for her country. She schemes and fights and hurts and loves. I love Lada so much and this series is absolutely fantastic, detailed and has an amazing cast of characters!
Do you enjoy historical novels? Which historical novels with a twist would you recommend? Have you read any of these and how did you like them?
Until next time,
Great topic! A few months ago I read My Lady Jane and really enjoyed it. I’m currently reading The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield. You may be interested in the story 😊 It’s an alternate version of the lives of Marie Antoinette and her sister Charlotte with magic.
Ohhh that sounds good, I’ll definitely check it out!! <3
As a fan of historical fantasy books, this list brings me so much joy! I LOVE The Lady Janies books – have you read My Contrary Mary yet?! I’ve also read and adored The Gilded Wolves from this list, and ironically the rest languish on my owned tbr. Great post!
Ahhh so glad to hear that! 🙂
I haven’t yet. I’ve been looking forward to it for so long and I just… haven’t read it yet 😀
The Silvered Serpents might be my favourite in the series but the whole series is just SO good! I really hope you enjoy them whenever you’re continuing it 🙂
Do you have a favourite historical fantasy?