The best historical fiction about Hawaii

The Books I Picked & Why

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

By Sara Ackerman

Book cover of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

Why this book?

I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to Sara Ackerman. I love all of her books about real people in Hawaii during World War II. Her characters are believable and compelling, and the Hawaiian setting is a different aspect of World War II than is usually presented. This book features a close-knit group of women who open a pie stand near a military base. Violet’s husband has disappeared without a word, and she suspects her daughter knows something she isn’t telling. When tension and suspicions rise among neighbors, the women are accused of being spies, and Violet must keep her friends and family safe. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Last Aloha

By Gaellen Quinn

Book cover of The Last Aloha

Why this book?

Laura’s fiancé and father die, and she travels from San Francisco to Hawaii to live with missionary relatives. It’s 1886, and Honolulu is the sophisticated bustling capital of a prosperous modern kingdom. Laura’s missionary relatives actively work to bring down the monarchy while Laura goes to work for the royal family. She builds quite a bond with the last queen, Lili`uokalani, who is trying to save her kingdom. This book tells the compelling story of the Hawaiian kingdom’s last days from a point of view inside the royal family. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Bound in Flame

By Katherine Kayne

Book cover of Bound in Flame

Why this book?

I truly enjoy historical fiction that presents a culture or era from a different point of view. This one is set in early twentieth-century Hawaii. It features a girl, Letty, returning from a boarding school on the mainland. Letty’s devoted to animals, and she is one of the first female veterinarians in history. She jumps into the ocean to save a horse. Her healing powers are strengthened by her connection to the ancient Hawaiian land. The undercurrent of power gives this novel a fantasy feel, but it doesn’t lose its historical aspect. Then Letty learns the price of her healing power—her kisses can kill. Even worse, she’s attracted to the man who owns the horse she saved. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Honolulu

By Alan Brennert

Book cover of Honolulu

Why this book?

This is one of three historical novels by Alan Brennert set in Hawaii. I like this one best because it is set in 1914, not long before my own novel opens in Honolulu. It portrays a very different side of the city, however. Brennert’s novel features a Korean picture bride who is married off to a poor laborer who mistreats her. She and her fellow picture brides come together to improve their lives, resulting in a unique portrayal of Waikiki before the highrises, of the tenements in Chinatown, and the plantations before powerful unions.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Diamond Head

By Cecily Wong

Book cover of Diamond Head

Why this book?

Frank Leong is a wealthy shipping industrialist who moves his family from China to Oahu at the turn of the nineteenth century. Frank is murdered, which completely destroys his family. Whispers of an ancient parable haunt the Leongs, of a red string that connects someone to their perfect match but can also punish for mistakes in love. Frank’s pregnant teenage granddaughter, Theresa, is the next target to suffer from her family’s curse. The story is told from multiple points of view in this tragic multigenerational story of secrets and betrayal. My own interest in family history made this novel resonate deeply within me as several generations of women fail in their relationships.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists