Remember the 1920s? Sure you do. People were dancing the Charleston and drinking giggle water in speakeasies. The Harlem Renaissance was just hitting its stride. Flappers were bobbing their hair and the economy was booming. You weren’t there, of course, but because of wholly atmospheric 1920s-set YA novels like these, you’ll feel as if you were.
The Diviners, by Libba Bray
If you’re looking for some 1920s historical fiction with just a dash (or maybe more than a dash) of supernatural horror, look no further than Libby Bray’s Diviners series. It all starts when 17-year-old Evie O’Neill—a brash, outspoken flapper with a flair for the dramatic—gets into trouble in her thudding bore of a hometown. As a result, she’s sent to live with her uncle in New York City. Evie loves New York. It’s a much better fit for her personality than Zenith, Ohio. But when the Big Apple is beset by a series of unexplainable (and possibly supernatural) murders that have left the police completely stumped, Evie realizes she might be the key to solving them. The Diviners is a hauntingly gorgeous thriller, and better yet? It has an equally chilling and immersive sequel, Lair of Dreams. Best of all, you won’t even have to wait for the third installment—Before the Devil Breaks You is on shelves now.
Bright Young Things, by Anna Godbersen
Good news, Anna Godbersen fans: the author behind the addictive Victorian drama series The Luxe has crafted a Roaring Twenties version with Bright Young Things. It’s 1929 in Manhattan. The hemlines are higher, the morals are looser, and anything goes in the city that never sleeps. But it’s not all glittering Broadway lights and free-flowing champagne. Letty wants to become an actress. Cordelia’s on the hunt for her infamous criminal father. The socialite Astrid is dating a rich man but finds herself attracted to her mother’s stable boy. And soon enough—as the prologue will tell you—one will be famous, one will be married, and one will be dead. All the while, the tumultuous end of the “era that roared” draws ever closer.
The Syndicate, by Sophie Davis
It’s the year 2446. Time travel is illegal. Only those with money and connections can afford to buy historical artifacts on the black market. Stassi, a Runner for an underground syndicate, jumps from bygone era to bygone era, stealing objects of value for clients. Her job is to get in and get out without changing the established timeline. She and her partner, Gaige, accept an assignment in 1920s Paris to steal a famous writer’s unpublished manuscript. But after getting caught up in the swirl of Parisian decadence, fashion, and culture, they realize something’s not right. There’s been a murder—one that shouldn’t have happened. By all historical accounts, it never did happen. As it turns out, a Runner’s gone rogue. And it’s up to them to stop him.
Speak Easy, Speak Love, by McKelle George
Do you like Shakespeare retellings? Do you like them even better when they’re set in the Jazz Age? I see we are of one mind. Basically, this book is Much Ado About Nothing, but on Long Island in the Roaring Twenties. Told from multiple uniquely compelling points-of-view, Speak Easy, Speak Love is the story of the whip-smart Beatrice, who’s just been kicked out of boarding school and shipped off to live on her uncle’s estate. It’s the story of her cousin, Hero, who’s struggling to run a floundering speakeasy out of a basement in Prohibition-era New York. It’s the story of Maggie, an aspiring jazz singer, and Benedict, a trust-fund kid who matches Bea wit for wit. It’s the story It’s the story of Prince, a poor boy with big plans, and his dark and dangerous half-brother, John. Mostly it’s the story of six teenagers during a summer full of love, high stakes, misadventures, lucky breaks, and more quick and hilarious banter than you’ll know what to do with.
Born of Illusion, by Teri Brown
The Roaring Twenties were a time for parties, flappers, and jazz, but they were also a time for spiritualism. In Born of Illusion, magic, mediums, and magicians are on the rise. Anna Van Housen, 16, is the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini, or so her fraudster mother claims. Together, they cheat people out of their money by faking séances and pretending to communicate with the dead—or at least, her mother does. Anna helps out behind the scenes, all while trying to hide the fact that she really does possess hidden powers. She can sense people’s feelings just by touching them. What’s more, her powers seem to be growing, and she’s beginning to have visions of a looming danger. In this tightly paced mystery full of magic and madcap wonder, Anna must juggle an opportunistic mother, the constant threat of discovery, and a new—and dashingly British—neighbor who might just have the answers she seeks.