Are you a fan of Historical Fiction? Check out all our Historical Fiction book reviews, read extracts and compare prices.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Catherine Johnson celebrates a hero of Arctic discovery whose story had been forgotten for many years largely because of the colour of his skin in this exciting telling of an important true story. Matthew Henson’s life at home was so hard that at eleven years old he ran away to make a new life for himself in New York. Always attracted by the sea he finds himself drawn into the world of the seafarers who are determined to find a route to the North Pole. Matt joins an expedition and, through a combination of his hard work, his commitment and some lucky breaks he travels across the frozen wastes. His sensitive building of relationships with the Inuit community plays a strong part in his success and in his ultimate and extraordinary achievement: to be the first man to reach the North Pole.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | | Karolina is a living doll who’s been transported from the Land of the Dolls on a “kind wind” following a cruel war with the rats. She wakes “in her new world with a glass heart”, in the workshop of a dollmaker in Krakow, Poland. When Karolina speaks to him, the Dollmaker is certain that he’s lost his mind. He made her, after all, “and I can’t make something that comes to life,” he reasons. But Karolina explains that “gardeners do it all the time with flowers”. Through shimmering, lyrical language, and Karolina’s consummate compassion, we are witness to a transformation in the crotchety widower Dollmaker. He begins to smile, to make friends, to feel light and hope. And then, when darkness descends on their city in the form of the Nazis, together they must use their newfound magic to save their friends, no matter what. The author does not shirk from relating the brutal realities of the Jewish experience in Nazi-occupied Poland, yet the overriding message is one of hope and love, and the wondrousness of acts of kindness. This is a sublimely big-souled book, with an exquisite ambiance of timelessness.
Interest Age 8-10 Reading Age 8 | World War One remains a subject of fascination for readers of all ages, but Tom Palmer finds an original way in to the topic in this poignant new story. Lily is a keen fell runner, though she’s fed up of coming in as runner up in races. A visit to her grandparents reveals a surprise: her great-grandfather ran on the fells too. His experiences are recounted vividly in his diary, both his runs in his beloved Cumbria and his experiences as a soldier, recruited to run between positions on the front line, carrying crucial information to the allies. Their shared experiences form a powerful connection, and help Lily to understand herself better, and also to help her grandma when she needs it most. Today and yesterday are seamlessly woven together in a story that will move readers in lots of different ways. ~ Andrea Reece
A super-readable page-turner spiced with absorbing historical detail, and shot-through with the vitality of an unforgettable heroine. Spearheaded by the author’s research into Soviet female WW2 combat pilots, this tells the remarkable story of Nastia. “I was born in a nation of war. I grew up in the shadow of war. And, like everyone else my age, I had been waiting all my life for the “future war”’, she declares with characteristic verve. An exceptional pilot, and the daughter of revolutionaries, Nastia must fight to fly alongside her male peers as her Motherland joins the Second World War. Then, when the fierce air battles begin – conveyed here to fiercely gripping effect – secrets explode and threaten to send her into freefall. Action, adventure, political conflict, personal battles, plus plenty of grit and determination, Firebird is a feast of historical fineness from the Carnegie Medal shortlisted author of Code Name Verity and, since it’s published by Barrington Stoke, it’s also perfectly placed to stoke-up a love of story in reluctant and struggling teen readers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2018 | With a tremendous cast, a great plot and setting and a catchy style this fast-paced espionage story is a book that is impossible to put down. Sophie Taylor and Lilian Rose, two girls who are very different in all ways except that they both clever and brave, find their detective work leads them to working with the Secret Service Bureau. It is 1911and the girls set off on a mission to Paris. Following the twists and turns of their undercover activity is a delight – as is Katherine Woodfine’s re-creation of Paris. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for August 2018 Once Upon A Wild Wood by Chris Riddell Oscar and the CATastrophe by Sarah Horne Run Wild by Gill Lewis Peril in Paris (Taylor & Rose: Secret Agents) by Katherine Woodfine The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter
July 2018 Debut of the Month |Historian Janina Ramirez’s TV programmes are as inspiring as they are informative. Her passion for Viking history comes through loud and clear in this story for young readers, which is also inspiring, and a great crime mystery too. Young Alva lives with her mother, uncle, baby brother and pet wolf Fenrir in the Viking settlement Kilsgard. Her father is away ‘a-Viking’ and much missed. The peace of their community is disturbed by the arrival of an English monk. He says he’s on the trail of treasure – certain to catch Viking attention – but has been attacked, a companion kidnapped. Alva is determined to investigate and soon on the trail, at first independently, then as semi-official assistant to her investigator uncle. The mystery comes closer to home still when the two discover secret messages from Alva’s father amongst the clues. Readers will pick up a real sense of Viking life as they compulsively turn the pages of this gripping adventure and Alva is a great new character in children’s books. Readers who can’t wait for the next book in the series will enjoy Caroline Lawrence’s historical crime series The Pinkerton Mysteries or the Artie Conan Doyle series by Robert J. Harris.
As elegant and energising as a flute of fine champagne, this enchanting novel sees 17-year-old Cornish farmer’s daughter and aspiring writer Lou embrace the dizzy decadence of 1920’s aristocracy, with life-changing results. “You can learn an awful lot from books,” according to Lou, and it’s Lou’s love of books that first brings her into contact with the wealthy Cardew family and their “exotic creature” socialite friends. One night she steals across the causeway to empty Cardew House to savour the delights of the library and unexpectedly encounters charismatic Robert Cardew. Their first ablaze-with-banter meeting leaves Lou “hot and cross” but also piercing with “pleasure and longing”, for it’s given her a tantalising glimpse into another world. Then follows an invite from Robert’s fluttery sister, Cailtin, and a summer of extravagant parties opens up. Robert’s voluptuously glamorous fiancé and her “film-star handsome” brother have quite an impact, but it’s the Cardew siblings who weave their way into Lou’s heart. Exuberantly entertaining, breezily romantic and shimmering with the delicious anticipation of pastures new, this is jubilantly fine fiction in the vein of I Capture the Castle.
May 2018 MEGA Book of the Month | In a nutshell: new and old friends united in classic Jacqueline Wilson story Jacqueline Wilson’s historical novels tell vivid, enthralling stories about young girls in testing situations, and Rose Rivers is classic Wilson. Rose is the daughter of a wealthy family – her father is a respected artist, though their wealth comes from her mother, or rather her grandfather, a mill owner. Rose loves to sketch, a great way of getting her father’s attention, but is frustrated by the restrictions on her life, and her mother’s expectations for her. The family has a large staff, and it’s the arrival of two new servants that provides the catalyst for change in Rose’s life. They are a new ‘nurse’ for Rose’s sister Beth, who has challenging learning disabilities; and our old friend Clover Moon, who becomes a real and valuable friend to Rose. The Victorian setting is very well described, but the real issues are timeless: friendship, family, finding your independence. ~ Andrea Reece
Brings the past brilliantly to life and introduces inspirational women to today's girls. Historically strong, this is a dramatic story with a real sense of atmosphere which in turn sheds an impressively wide light on the social and economic picture of its time. Girls for the Vote was originally published as Polly's March.
Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2017 | May 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Award-winning Frances Hardinge’s latest novel bubbles over with brilliant ideas in a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure encompassing families, a very special kind of haunting, spying and the English Civil War. Twelve year Makepeace has grown up practising how to defend herself against spirits who go in search of another living being to inhabit when they are released from the dead. Makepeace is skilful at defence but, when grieving the death of her mother, she lets her guard down and is filled with the spirit of a bear. But Bear is a friend as much as a foe and now Makepeace has a strong internal allay who may be exactly what she needs when she goes to stay with her father’s terrifying family whom she needs to resist at all costs. Frances Hardinge’s beautiful writing makes the unbelievable credible and tangible as she weaves together and then unravels layer upon layer of complexities in this substantial and deeply story. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
Francis and Pieter are brothers. As shadow of one war lingers, and the rumbles of another approach, the brothers argue. Francis is a fierce pacifist, while Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis's life forever . . . and throw him into the mouth of the wolf.
Selected by a distinguished independent panel of experts including our editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare, for Diverse Voices - 50 of the best Children's Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK. A beautiful new edition of the first volume in the Surya Trilogy by Whitbread award-winning author Jamila Gavin. India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt-out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother's life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival. Together they escape across India and nearly halfway around the world to England, to find a father they hardly know in a new, hostile culture...
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