The best historical fantasy books with a touch of romance

Liza Street Author Of Blood Bounty
By Liza Street

Who am I?

As an author and a lifelong lover of books, I read all genres. My favorites are set in fantastical worlds with unique settings. The mash-up of history and fantasy is endlessly compelling to me, and I always want to see a romantic subplot (or main plot!) in the books I read. I want a happily-ever-after even when the strange world and its villains are conspiring against the main characters. 


I wrote...

Blood Bounty

By Liza Street,

Book cover of Blood Bounty

What is my book about?

Gracie Boswell's got a charmed bullet, a brand new posse, and a pack of outlaw vampires to kill.

The tiny town of Penance has a big vampire problem—and charmslinger Gracie Boswell aims to be the solution. A whole nest of vampires makes for a mighty fine bounty, though, and Gracie is far from the only charmslinger angling for the job. When a charming local layabout and an old competitor elbow their way into Gracie's posse, she's forced to at least pretend to play nice...but trust is scarce in the west, and smart bounty hunters always sleep with one eye open.

The books I picked & why

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow,

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Why this book?

This captivating tale reeled me in with its quiet descriptions and its nineteenth-century American setting. Everything felt charming and peaceful, but there was an undercurrent of a truly disturbing mystery throughout that kept me flipping pages. The plot had several turns which took me by surprise, and some which did not, but whether or not you’re surprised by the twists, you will be one hundred percent delighted with the world and the romantic elements throughout.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…


Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I

By Robin Lafevers,

Book cover of Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I

Why this book?

Set in the mid-1400s in France, this series starter contains action, court intrigue, romance, and assassin nuns! I read it years ago and it remains a favorite, not only for the beautiful language, but for the strong heroine, Ismae, and her journey from following the rules and doing as she’s been told, to learning how to discern right from wrong and follow the guidance of her own moral compass. This is a book I would love to watch as a movie, not only for the action, but the costumes.

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I

By Robin Lafevers,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Grave Mercy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
     Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high…


The Empress of Salt and Fortune

By Nghi Vo,

Book cover of The Empress of Salt and Fortune

Why this book?

This truly lovely historical novella is set in a fantastical version of ancient China and incorporates mythology that I’m certain I didn’t completely understand. However, the bittersweet tale, told by a former handmaiden named Rabbit to a traveling cleric, is gorgeous enough to stand without any background knowledge. This is a tale I will return to more than once, for its compelling story and nostalgic tone.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune

By Nghi Vo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Empress of Salt and Fortune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2020 Crawford Award!
Winner of the 2021 Hugo Award!
A Hugo Award-Winning Series!

A 2021 Locus Award Finalist
A 2021 Ignyte Award Finalist
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist

"Dangerous, subtle, unexpected and familiar, angry and ferocious and hopeful... The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a remarkable accomplishment of storytelling."―NPR

A 2020 ALA Booklist Top Ten SF/F Debut | A Book Riot Must-Read Fantasy of 2020 | A Paste Most Anticipated Novel of 2020 | A Library Journal Debut of the Month | A Buzzfeed Must-Read Fantasy Novel of Spring 2020 | A Washington Post Best SFF…


The Ghost Bride

By Yangsze Choo,

Book cover of The Ghost Bride

Why this book?

This unique setting (Malaysia in the late 1800s) was highlighted by the addition of fantastical elements—a spirit world layered over the “real” world, which is as real and corrupt as the one where our heroine, Li Lan, finds herself. Her struggles to find and fall in love, as well as her desire to save her home, created an unputdownable book. The romance is subtle, but sweet, and a perfect juxtaposition to some of the horrors Li Lan must endure on her spiritual journey.

The Ghost Bride

By Yangsze Choo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Ghost Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A haunting, evocative and highly unusual romantic debut and now a Netflix Mandarin original drama premiering January 2020!

Seventeen-year-old Li Lan lives in 1890s Malaya with her quietly-ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition - the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their son. The only problem is, he's dead. After a fateful visit to the Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also her desire for the Lims' handsome new heir. At night she is drawn into the Chinese afterlife - a world of ghost cities,…


Upright Women Wanted

By Sarah Gailey,

Book cover of Upright Women Wanted

Why this book?

The romance in Upright Women Wanted is very subtle, but it is more powerful for that subtlety. This dystopian, Wild Western setting is light on the fantasy and is considered “near future” instead of historical, yet the vibe is distinctly historical. In this harsh world, women are considered property and laws are upheld by a military government. However, librarians are free to travel. When the heroine stows away with them, she embarks on an adventure she never could’ve imagined. I would gladly read ten more books set in this world!

Upright Women Wanted

By Sarah Gailey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Upright Women Wanted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

"That girl's got more wrong notions than a barn owl's got mean looks."

Esther is a stowaway. She's hidden herself away in the Librarian's book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her--a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of…


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