Good Minds Suggest—Susanna Kearsley's Favorite Historical Fantasies

Posted by Goodreads on December 9, 2013
A former curator at a Canadian history museum, Susanna Kearsley embraces the art world in her latest adventure, The Firebird. Her heroine is a Russian art expert who carefully hides a special talent: When she touches an object, she can see its past. The novel, a companion to the Canadian writer's earlier book, The Winter Sea, mixes history and art with a hint of fantasy as we delve into the origin of a wooden carving that may have belonged to Empress Catherine. Kearsley is known for blending the mysteries of centuries past with unexplained paranormal forces in works such as The Shadowy Horses, The Rose Garden, and Mariana. She also writes thrillers under the name Emma Cole. No matter what the nom de plume, between her pages you'll find time travel, Scottish castles, ghosts, Italian villas, and other delicious elements of modern gothic and romantic suspense.

Kearsley shares her top five historical fantasies, a genre she calls one of her favorites.

Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson
"This is one of those books I bought solely because I fell in love with the cover, and then when I sat down to read it I found myself falling in love with this richly mysterious version of prerevolutionary Boston. Thieftaker Ethan Kaille is a man with a murky past whose varied skills as a conjurer don't always endear him to his fellow colonists. They view any use of magic with suspicion and wouldn't hesitate to hang a man for witchcraft. Blending real history with intrigue and spellcasting, Jackson's created compelling historical noir, with a twist."

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
"I absolutely love this book. I came to it backwards, by watching the film first, but Gaiman's incredible prose and the magic he weaves with his words quickly put this one onto my keeper shelf. It had me from the first line: 'There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire.' Reading this tale of young Tristan Thorn coming of age as he journeys to capture and bring back a fallen star, crossing the forbidden gap in the wall that divides his Victorian village from what lies beyond in the world of the fae, is as close as I've come to reliving those long-ago days of my childhood when I'd take the red book of fairy tales down from its shelf, wrap myself in a blanket, and lose myself wholly in wonder. It's definitely a fairy tale for adults, touched with darkness, sex, and violence, but… Did I already say I love this book? Trust me on this one. Read it."

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
"This was the book that reminded me how much I really liked fantasy. I'd fallen out of reading it for a number of years, until I picked this book up on sale and got swept up in the richly realized world of the Napoleonic Wars…with fighting dragons used as living airships that bond to their 'aviators'—officers they imprint on at hatching. When Captain Will Laurence captures a French frigate that happens to be carrying a rare dragon egg, he chooses the man the dragon will imprint on—only the dragon, as Laurence will learn, has a mind of its own. This book is the first in a series that follows the wartime adventures of Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire. It's a favorite of mine that I recommend often."

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
"I was wowed by the first in the Iron Seas series, The Iron Duke—set in steampunk Victorian England with truly superlative world building—in which, as a side event to the main story, an airship captain named Yasmeen tossed an adventurer named Archimedes right over the rails of her ship into dangerous outlands infested with zombies, and left him there. In Heart of Steel Archimedes is back with a hidden agenda, and he and Yasmeen forge an often-uneasy alliance to follow a dangerous path to a treasure. I'm a sucker for a treasure-hunting-road-trip tale told well, and this one didn't disappoint me once. I highly recommend it."

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
"I think my father may have introduced me to this one, as it's one of his own favorites, but it's always been on our bookshelves at home. From the moment the first-person narrator, Dick Young, decides to experiment with his friend Magnus's drug and is thrust back in time, I was hooked. Dick finds himself an observer, unable to touch those he's watching without being forced from the past to the present, but traveling back soon becomes an obsession, and Dick finds himself growing ever more firmly entwined with the life of the man he's observing and drawn into the intrigues of 14th-century Cornwall. A fine sense of place and a highly suspenseful, original version of time travel makes this a book to remember long after you've turned the last page."

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Linda MacDonald The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon features a paranormal WWII plot.

message 2: by Steph (new)

Steph For Historical Fantasy, I cannot recommend Guy Gavriel Kay enough. You can read them over and over. Lions of Al-Rassan, Song for Arbonne, Sailing to Sarantium, et al. LOVE.

message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom Kay is a great reccomendation for historical fantasy.

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