Every history buff has their favorite eras of study. I basically collect novels, nonfiction books, documentaries, and stories of colonial America, but I know there are innumerable fascinating eras that I should learn more about. In this collection of historical fiction novels, I explore brilliant literature that takes place in uncommonly explored time periods. From the Ice Age to biblical times and beyond, these vivid novels will effortlessly transport you across history and open up the world for you.
12 Historical Novels to Transport You to Uncommon Eras
In this evocative novel mixing mystery with coming-of-age, a young man searches for answers about his Russian grandmother’s violent death and his own heritage in 1950s New Jersey. Did his radio show where he mocked the USSR play a role? And how is a young war orphan and smuggler involved? An epic and moving tale that stretches across the ocean, this is a gripping novel.
This modern classic eloquently explores the story of the early Israelites from the perspective of a minor figure in Genesis—Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. With lyrical prose and unforgettable characterization, THE RED TENT effortlessly illustrates what it meant to be a woman in biblical times.
Witness the first contact between the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and Christopher Columbus through the eyes of a man from the Taíno tribe. From traveling to Spain to returning for the Taíno resistance, this profound novel is a masterful depiction of an often-overlooked and ultimately tragic aspect in history.
The Japanese masterpiece that inspired the 2016 Martin Scorsese film of the same name, SILENCE follows two seventeenth century Jesuit priests who risk everything to search for and assist their colleagues in a country that is dangerously hostile to Christians. A deeply reflective exploration of faith and humanity, this is an extraordinary and incredibly moving novel.
In NECTAR, Elise flees her village in medieval Wales after killing a man in self-defense. Her journey is a difficult one filled with danger, superstition, and even unexpected passion. A haunting tale that sweeps us to the craggy landscape of Wales and hints at the supernatural that surrounds us, this is a magical novel of potent power.
A historical novel unlike any other, RAPTOR RED follows a female raptor as she struggles to survive in the harsh world of the Early Cretaceous Period. Written by a paleontologist, this evocative novel will transport you to a time we can only imagine and bring these fascinating creatures to vivid life.
We’ve all heard of the Queen of Sheba, but what do we actually know about this legendary figure? In this remarkable, passionate, and well-researched novel, the new queen of the ancient kingdom must use all of her wits to ensure the safety of her realm. But she never anticipates the desires of King Solomon or how the two of them will change the course of history.
Who doesn’t love a ghost story? But what happens when a ghost story has some basis in historical fact? In this haunting novel, discover the truth behind the senseless murder of a young woman in nineteenth-century Appalachia and how her ghost allegedly helped bring her murderer to justice. A mesmerizing tale of law, race, and spirituality, THE UNQUIET GRAVE is an unforgettable true story.
The first in the beloved Earth’s Children series, THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR follows a young orphaned Cro-Magnon girl as she is rescued by a Neanderthal clan after a violent earthquake. But fear, prejudice, and mistrust abound and threaten the newfound peace among the clan. This is a masterful and stirring epic that will have you immediately reaching for the rest of the series.
One of the strangest legends of the Middle Ages is that of Pope Joan—a woman who disguised herself as a man to ascend to the papacy. In this engaging novel, Donna Woolfolk Cross explores this folktale through the story of a young woman determined to achieve an education regardless of the prejudices against her sex. With an intelligent and strong-willed heroine and vibrant prose, this is powerful and sweeping novel.
Meet Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first American Indian to graduate from Harvard University in the seventeenth century, and the young minister’s daughter he forms a bond with. A captivating story of prejudice, religious persecution, and the thirst for knowledge, CALEB’S CROSSING is another classic by the Pultizer Prize-winning author of MARCH and THE SECRET CHORD.
From the author of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, this powerful and mesmerizing novel—based on a true story—follows a doctor as he struggles to discover the truth about two shocking murders in nineteenth-century Canada. Is the mild-mannered and unassuming servant Grace truly guilty of such a heinous crime? Why does she claim to have no memory of the event? Is she insane or a devious liar? A compelling true crime novel, ALIAS GRACE was recently adapted into a Netflix series.