The best historical fiction books that carry you away to another time and place

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been interested in history, which is probably why I ended up with a BA(Hons) in history. One of the things that historical fiction can do better than a historical text is to take you there, let you live the events as they happened. It's important that the facts are correct, but so is the setting. The narrative has to be believable and convincing. I've done that with my own book, To Die a Dry Death, and I expect nothing less from the books I read.


I wrote...

To Die a Dry Death: The True Story of the Batavia Shipwreck

By Greta van der Rol,

Book cover of To Die a Dry Death: The True Story of the Batavia Shipwreck

What is my book about?

1629. Shipwrecked on an uncharted reef thirty miles off the coast of Australia, two hundred men, women, and children scramble ashore on tiny, hostile islands. 

The ship’s officers set out in an open boat on a two-thousand-mile journey across uncharted ocean to seek help. But there’s not enough food and water for everyone on the islands to last until a rescue ship arrives. One man will stop at nothing to ensure that he is among the survivors. But adversity throws up heroes. Soon there’s war between two groups, both determined to be there to greet that rescue ship when it arrives. If it arrives. The terrifying true story of the Batavia shipwreck

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Crown in the Heather

Greta van der Rol Why did I love this book?

It is a dark and raw story, written of a turbulent, violent time. What impressed me most was that the author chose the difficult path of writing her story from the different viewpoints of three people – all in first person. The narrative is wonderfully written and absolutely convincing. It's written with meticulous attention to detail, as if you're there, breathing in the scent of the heather, hearing the clink of harness, feeling the rain. I felt I was seeing a slice of history as it happened.

By N. Gemini Sasson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crown in the Heather as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

(THE BRUCE TRILOGY: BOOK I) Love and loyalty. Betrayal and murder. What is the cost of a crown? In 1290, Scotland is without a king. Two families - the Bruces and the Balliols - vie for the throne. Robert the Bruce is in love with Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of an adherent of the ruthless Longshanks, King of England. In order to marry her and not give up his chances of someday becoming King of Scots, Robert must abandon his rebel ways and bide his time as Longshanks' vassal. But Edward, Longshanks' heir, doesn't trust the opportunistic Scotsman and…


Book cover of The Crystal Cave

Greta van der Rol Why did I love this book?

Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy is one of my favourites. With consummate skill, the author has brought together all of the many legends about Merlin and woven them into a completely believable tapestry. In The Crystal Cave she concentrates on Merlin's early life in 5th-century Britain just after the Romans abandoned the country. It's written in first person and I was utterly convinced that the story she tells could be true. The author takes you there, to a crumbling Roman villa, to the world of the Druids, to the conception of King Arthur at Tintagel. I loved it.

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Crystal Cave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The spellbinding story of Merlin's rise to power.

Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class - Daily Mail

So begins the story of Merlin, born the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess in fifth century Britain, a world ravaged by war. Small and neglected, with his mother unwilling to reveal his father's identity, Merlin must disguise his intelligence - and hide his occasional ability to know things before they happen - in order to keep himself safe.

While exploring the countryside near his home, Merlin stumbles across a cave filled with books and papers and hiding a room lined with crystals. It is…


Book cover of May 1812

Greta van der Rol Why did I love this book?

In 1812 Britain ruled the waves and Napoleon ruled everything else. We in the twenty-first century don’t realise how difficult and dangerous those times really were, how much of an analogy can be drawn with the dark days of World War II, when Britain stood alone against the forces in Europe. While the main plot line appears to be a simple romance, in fact Bennetts has gathered together strand after strand of conflict into a rich, absorbing tapestry. There's code-breaking, social mores, how to partake of snuff, politics, the assassination of the British PM. The story is utterly absorbing and very, very real.

By M. M. Bennetts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked May 1812 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1812. Europe has been at war for twenty years. Britain stands alone against the greatest threat to peace the world has ever known, at daily risk of a French invasion and revolution. In London, a handful of men struggle to protect their country and maintain the war effort. Among them, the Earl of Myddelton, code-breaker to the Foreign Office, strives to crack the most difficult French code yet-the Grand Chiffre-before still more men die on the battlefields of Europe. Then, on 11 May 1812, the unthinkable happens-the Prime Minister is assassinated. Amid widespread panic and fear of a French conspiracy,…


Book cover of The Year-god's Daughter

Greta van der Rol Why did I love this book?

This book will transport you straight back to the Crete of the Bronze Age. I felt I was taking every step with the characters. Each setting, whether it be the marketplace in the village, the palace, and the underground prison cells, is meticulously described. The society, bound by ritual and ruled by a queen and her priestesses who are constantly searching for signs of approval from the goddess, is utterly believable. It's a fascinating mix of actual history and myth, where the Gods and Goddesses are as real as they were to the people living in those times.

By Rebecca Lochlann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Year-god's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Year-God’s Daughter succeeds in bringing to life a very distant world and capturing a heady blend of archaeology, legend, myth and fantasy." Judith Starkston, author of Hand of Fire.

Award Honoree of the BRAG Medallion for outstanding fiction.

Book One, The Child of the Erinyes series. A Saga of Ancient Greece. Epic historical fantasy inspired by Ariadne, Theseus, and the Minotaur.

Step into the Bronze Age. . . .

Crete: A place of magic, of mystery, where violence and sacrifice meet courage and hope.

Aridela: Wrapped in legend, beloved of the people. An extraordinary woman who dances with bulls.…


Book cover of Tulagi Hotel: A World War II Romance

Greta van der Rol Why did I love this book?

This book takes place at the end of WW2 on a Pacific island. Jack has survived the war, but can't give up the places where he fought. For me, the book reads like a succession of short stories held together with the underlying theme of Jack’s search for himself. It tells tales from Jack’s childhood with his twin brother and stories from the war, some funny, some poignant, some a little eerie. Through it all, the author’s knowledge of aircraft and the Pacific theatre of WW2 lends authenticity. 

This isn't a fast-paced cliff-hanger. I could dip in and out and re-read sections, laugh a little, cry a little, live the war in the Pacific vicariously. It feels real.

By Heikki Hietala,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tulagi Hotel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The location is beautiful, the hotel well worth a visit, and the lives of the guests are intriguing... A great read." - Historical Novels Review (May 2011) "This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and a 'must' for any fan of military aviation." - M Howard Morgan, author of 'First Fleet' "Beyond the technical details lies a wonderful story with beautifully written characters full of personality and charm." - Raven Dane "Adventure, excitement, tragedy, romance and engaging characters, this novel has it all." - Susanne O'Leary, author of Fresh Powder *** The War is over, but for Marine pilot Jack McGuire,…


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Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Lap Baby

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A story you'll never forget about survival, forgiveness, healing, and love.

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors are inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause. 

Julie Geiger, a flight attendant, told five sets of parents to place their babies on the floor of the plane when it was going down. Now, she must live with the consequences. Will changing the emergency rules bring her healing and forgiveness? And where does love fit into her life now?

Marie Stanley lost her baby boy on that flight. And she knows exactly who to blame. Julie. The problem is that vindictiveness festers. And eats into your soul. How will Marie learn to move past her hate and save her marriage in the process?

Paige Montgomery, the lap baby who survived the flight, would love to forget it ever happened. After all, she’s happy. And she’s on the cusp of a new relationship. How will she learn to forge her own path, one that integrates all the elements of her past, including the crash, the loss of her parents, and her subsequent adoption?

Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause.

Did you know that lap babies (children under the age of two) are instructed to be placed on the floor of a plane during an emergency? Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Julie Geiger, a flight attendant, told five sets of parents to do just that. Now she must live with the consequences. Will changing the rules bring her healing and forgiveness? And where does love fit into her life now?

Marie Stanley lost her baby boy on that flight. And she knows exactly…


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