The best books for kids who love a medieval quest

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth
By Nancy McConnell

Who am I?

Before I could start writing Into the Lion’s Mouth, I spent a lot of time researching the medieval and renaissance Venice. I was astounded to see how relevant that history is to today. Not only are there many parallels that can be drawn between the past and today there is so much to learn about the consistency of human nature. I find myself currently gravitating towards books that mix history and fiction and these are some of my favorites.


I wrote...

Into the Lion's Mouth

By Nancy McConnell,

Book cover of Into the Lion's Mouth

What is my book about?

Venice is sinking, so they say.

And so are Nico's chances to prosper in the most glorious city in the world. Nurse Francesca is threatening to send him to a farm to pick olives, he has failed at two apprenticeships, and one of the most powerful men in Venice would like to sink his lifeless body into the deepest canal. Orphans have very few options, and Nico might be forced to choose the one he most wishes to avoid, leaving Venice behind forever.

The books I picked & why

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The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

By Adam Gidwitz, Hatem Aly (illustrator),

Book cover of The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Why this book?

A warm inn, and a stranger’s tale gather together a group of travelers as they become fascinated by the story of three gifted children that is sweeping the land. I loved the way this book brought the story of the people in the inn and the marvelous children together step by step. Peppered with real historical figures and legends this book is a must-read for the middle-grade medieval enthusiast. 


The Crowfield Curse

By Pat Walsh,

Book cover of The Crowfield Curse

Why this book?

I found this book through a recommendation from a friend and I am glad I did. A truly spinetingling page-turner, The Crowfield Curse has all the elements of a medieval thriller. A strange magical creature, a mysterious grave, and a deadly curse. What more could you expect from your average medieval abbey? Beautifully written and thoroughly engaging it’s a keeper for your bookshelf.  


The Cross of Lead

By Avi,

Book cover of The Cross of Lead

Why this book?

I have come to expect a wonderful story when I pick up an Avi book and this one does not disappoint. A true hero’s quest, we follow Crispin across medieval England as he tries to make a life for himself after his previous meager life is shattered. But as with all quests, there is something else going on and Crispin has to use his brain and courage to figure out who he truly is. 


The Shakespeare Stealer

By Gary Blackwood,

Book cover of The Shakespeare Stealer

Why this book?

Set in London at the historic Globe theater, orphan Widge is forced by his cruel master to try to steal the works of William Shakespeare. This book really illuminates the time period. I loved how it pulled me right in and kept me constantly on Widge’s side. Filled with twists and turns this book is hard to put down. 


The Midwife's Apprentice

By Karen Cushman,

Book cover of The Midwife's Apprentice

Why this book?

This book was a Newberry Award winner and it’s easy to see why. It is hard not to love Alyce and root for her as she grapples with the difficulty of learning midwifery under the not to tender tutelage of Jane the Midwife. The story is at times funny, poignant and fascinating. I was moved by the courage and persistence Alyce shows. This book transported me to another era and left me wanting more. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Middle Ages, orphans, and curses?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Middle Ages, orphans, and curses.

The Middle Ages Explore 216 books about the Middle Ages
Orphans Explore 101 books about orphans
Curses Explore 44 books about curses

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Catherine, Called Birdy, The Good Wife of Bath, and Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy if you like this list.