There’s nothing like being transported in time by a good book, and these historical novels on our list are sure to take you on thrilling adventures across the world and through timelines brimming with treachery, intrigue, and characters so compelling you won’t want to leave.
Kate Darling’s enigmatic mother—a once-famous ballerina—has passed away, leaving Kate bereft. When her grandmother falls ill and bequeaths to Kate a small portrait of a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Kate’s mother, Kate uncovers a mystery that may upend everything she thought she knew.
Kate’s journey to find the true identity of the woman in the portrait takes her to some of the world’s most iconic and indulgent locales, revealing a love story that began in the wild 1920s and was disrupted by war and could now spark new love for Kate. Alternating between Kate’s present-day hunt and voices from the past, The Book of Lost and Foundcasts light on family secrets and love—both lost and found.
After the loves and betrayals of The Revolution of Marina M., young poet Marina Makarova finds herself alone amid the devastation of the Russian Civil War—pregnant and adrift, forced to rely on her own resourcefulness to find a place to wait out the birth of her child and eventually make her way back to her native city, Petrograd.
After two years of revolution, the city that was once St. Petersburg is almost unrecognizable, the haunted, half-emptied, starving Capital of Once Had Been, its streets teeming with homeless children. Moved by their plight, though hardly better off herself, she takes on the challenge of caring for these orphans, until they become the tool of tragedy from an unexpected direction.
Shaped by her country’s ordeals and her own trials—betrayal and privation and inconceivable loss—Marina evolves as a poet and a woman of sensibility and substance hardly imaginable at the beginning of her transformative odyssey.
Chimes of a Lost Cathedral is the culmination of one woman’s s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century—the epic story of an artist who discovers her full power, passion, and creativity just as her revolution reveals its true direction for the future.
Tom Rob Smith’s debut, Child 44, was an immediate sensation and marked the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction. Named one of top 100 thrillers of all time by NPR, it hit bestseller lists around the world, won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and the ITW Thriller Award for Best First Novel, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
In this spellbinding new novel, Tom Rob Smith probes the tenuous border between love and obsession as Leo Demidov struggles to untangle the threads of a devastating conspiracy that shatters everything he holds dear. Deftly capturing the claustrophobic intensity of the Cold War-era Soviet Union, it’s at once a heart-pounding thriller and a richly atmospheric novel of extraordinary depth . . .
Leo Demidov is no longer a member of Moscow’s secret police. But when his wife, Raisa, and daughters Zoya and Elena are invited on a “Peace Tour” to New York City, he is immediately suspicious.
Forbidden to travel with his family and trapped on the other side of the world, Leo watches helplessly as events in New York unfold and those closest to his heart are pulled into a web of political conspiracy and betrayal-one that will end in tragedy.
In the horrible aftermath, Leo demands only one thing: to investigate the killer who destroyed his family. His request is summarily denied. Crippled by grief and haunted by the need to find out exactly what happened on that night in New York, Leo takes matters into his own hands. It is a quest that will span decades, and take Leo around the world–from Moscow, to the mountains of Soviet-controlled Afghanistan, to the backstreets of New York–in pursuit of the one man who knows the truth: Agent 6.
Rome, 1953: Hal, an itinerant journalist flailing in the post-war darkness, has come to the Eternal City to lose himself and to seek absolution for the thing that haunts him. One evening he finds himself on the steps of a palazzo, walking into a world of privilege and light. Here, on a rooftop above the city, he meets the mysterious Stella. Hal and Stella are from different worlds, but their connection is magnetic. Together, they escape the crowded party and imagine a different life, even if it’s just for a night. Yet Stella vanishes all too quickly, and Hal is certain their paths won’t cross again.
But a year later they are unexpectedly thrown together, after Hal receives an invitation he cannot resist. An Italian Contessa asks him to assist on a trip of a lifetime — acting as a reporter on a tremendous yacht, skimming its way along the Italian coast toward Cannes film festival, the most famous artists and movie stars of the day gathered to promote a new film.
Of all the luminaries aboard—an Italian ingénue, an American star, a reclusive director — only one holds Hal in thrall: Stella. And while each has a past that belies the gilded surface, Stella has the most to hide. As Hal’s obsession with Stella grows, he becomes determined to bring back the girl she once was, the girl who’s been confined to history. An irresistibly entertaining and atmospheric novel set in some of the world’s most glamorous locales, The Invitation is a sultry love story about the ways in which the secrets of the past stay with us—no matter how much we try to escape them.
Set in the border states of Kansas and Missouri, Woe to Live On explores the nature of lawlessness and violence, friendship and loyalty, through the eyes of young recruit Jake Roedel. Where he and his fellow First Kansas Irregulars go, no one is safe, no one can be neutral. Roedel grows up fast, experiencing a brutal parody of war without standards or mercy. But as friends fall and families flee, he questions his loyalties and becomes an outsider even to those who have become outlaws.
The story of a deadly curse that afflicted an Irish family for a hundred years.
“I tell you your mine will be in ruins and your home destroyed and your children forgotten . . . but this hill will be standing still to confound you.” So curses Morty Donovan when Copper John Brodrick builds his mine at Hungry Hill.
The Brodricks of Clonmere gain great wealth by harnessing the power of Hungry Hill and extracting the treasure it holds. The Donovans, the original owners of Clonmere Castle, resent the Brodricks’ success, and consider the great house and its surrounding land theirs by rights. For generations the feud between the families has simmered, always threatening to break into violence . . .
Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She’d rather let “the Americans” settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri’s Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as “her boys.” And while she doesn’t see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.
As the mistress of her brother’s Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker’s business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her.
Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.
It’s the summer of 1942, and FBI agent Joe Lucas has come to Cuba at the behest of the Director to keep an eye on Ernest Hemingway in the Caribbean. Lucas thinks of it as a demotion-a babysitting job for a famous writer who has decided to play spy, assembling a team of misfits including an American millionaire, a twelve-year-old Cuban orphan, a Spanish jai alai champion and more in a would-be espionage ring Hemingway dubs the “Crook Factory.”
But when Hemingway uncovers a critical piece of intelligence that both threatens his life and endangers the political landscape, the fate of the free world and the life of one of its most preeminent writers lies in the hands of the FBI’s most ruthless agent.
They call her the Queen of the Outcasts. Maviah, a woman whose fate was sealed on her birth by this world-unwanted, illegitimate, female, a slave-subject to the whims of all. But then she met a man named Yeshua who opened her eyes. She found strength in his words, peace from the brutal word around her. Because of what he taught her, she has gathered her own traveling kingdom of outcasts deep in the desert, wielding an authority few have seen. But when her growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more. She must find Yeshua to save her people, but when she does, she will be horrified to discover that he faces his own death.
Enter a story full of intrigue, heart-wrenching defeat, uncompromising love and staggering victory-one that re-examines everything you thought you knew about the heart of Jesus’s stunning message and the power that follows for those who follow his easily forgotten way.
On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens—at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world — hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.
Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?
Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens’s life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens’s friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), Drood explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, Drood is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.