In the hands of the wrong teacher, history can be a bore, full of dusty dates and details. Where’s the fun? Where’s the humor? Where’s the storytelling? As it turns out, it’s right here. These funny YA historical novels will transport you back in time for adventure, romance, and laughs.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, by Mackenzi Lee
I adored Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, so when I heard we were getting a companion novel about Monty’s sister Felicity—and that the companion novel would involve pirates—I almost lost my mind with joy. Lady’s Guide picks up where Gentleman’s Guide left off: with Felicity returning home from her European adventures, determined to enlist in medical school. When the schools refuse to accept her, dismissing her skill because she’s a lady, Felicity pins her hopes on her hero, Alexander Platt, a doctor whom her estranged best friend, Johanna, is about to wed. But getting to the wedding will mean partnering with a mysterious young woman—a woman who could ruin her, or reveal secrets that will change the course of her life.
Suitors and Sabotage, by Cindy Anstey
Looking for a story that gives you Pride and Prejudice feels, but with a murder mystery and infinitely more giggles? Cindy Anstey is here to deliver. Imogene Chively’s future looks bright, including a successful season in London and a suitable, hand-picked suitor. But she’s not interested in the suitor—she’s interested in his brother, Ben, an architect with no drawing skills whatsoever. Imogene agrees to teach him, but their lessons (and increasing affection) lead to a series of accidents that can only mean one thing: somebody wants Ben dead. Anstey’s other books, including Duels and Deception and Love, Lies and Spies, are also perfect fits for this list.
My Plain Jane, by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand and Jodi Meadows
This cowriting trio is back at it with My Plain Jane, eccentric companion novel to their delightfully bonkers My Lady Jane. In a tale you could pitch as Jane Eyre meets Ghostbusters, orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood pair up to deal with a ghostly problem. Is this what inspire Brontë to write Jane Eyre? Or was there something more behind it—a real ghost on the moors of Wuthering Heights? Ashton, Hand, and Meadows smash up the classic novel with ghosts and pop culture references for a delightful (and fandom-worthy) romp of a book.
An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason, by Virginia Boecker
What happens when you mash up Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and Shakespeare in Love? You get An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason. This Elizabethan novel follows Lady Katherine (whose father tried to murder Queen Elizabeth I) and Toby Ellis (a spy for that very same queen). Katherine escapes to London disguised as a boy, determined to fulfill her father’s mission to kill the king, only to end up cast alongside Toby Ellis in a fake Shakespearean play designed to root out members of the rebellion. Girls dressed as boys? Shakespeare plays? Attempts to kill royalty? This book plays with some of the very best tropes.
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore, by Kelly Jones
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore flew under the radar when it was first released, but this charming (and fashionable) book fits perfectly on our list of giggle-worthy historical. In 1818, Annis Whitworth decides to become a spy after her father dies—after all, he was a spy (or, at least, she’s pretty sure he was), so she might as well. England’s spymasters refuse her, but Annis doesn’t need them to follow the clues her father left behind. She has a skill, after all, that they don’t: the ability to sew magical glamours into her clothing. Full of lovely and complex ladies, female friendships, and delightful Easter eggs for avid readers, this is sure to delight, especially as a companion novel to My Lady Jane.