Chloe Gong is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Secret Shanghai novels, and her upcoming adult debut, Immortal Longings. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chloe is now located in New York City.
While people might argue historical fantasy is a “niche” genre, I’ve found that it’s one of the most versatile categories out there. It’s like mixing two paint bottles together and getting a different shade every time. While my YA debut was set firmly in a historical era—1920s Shanghai—and followed true events with speculative elements, I wrote my adult fantasy debut, Immortal Longings, with only a touch of historical inspiration. I wanted the room to play with a secondary world, but also point to the Kowloon Walled City in the 1990s as the touchpoint for the mood unfolding within the pages, and to the rise of the Roman Empire for the court politics. (So I guess I’m using three paint bottles.)
As tempting as it can be, we cannot rewrite history itself. We cannot change the tragedy nor the atmosphere of the past—but we can weave stories out of it to understand or supplement the present, as historical fantasy does. Here are seven excellent reads that do just that: