There are very, very few things I love more in life than historical fiction and paranormal activity (for the record, those other things are my dog and giant servings of ice cream). Having grown up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and stories about haunted houses, I’m a total freak for things that go bump in the night. I’m also totally guilty of romanticizing the past (corsets! knights! disillusionment with the Jazz Age!), so I love me some historical fiction. For awhile I was reading both of these genres separately, never dreaming I would find a novel that actually combined these two loves.
But because the Book Gods are kind, apparently I wasn’t alone in wanting a paranormal/historical hybrid book—and the world’s authors have provided! I’ve rounded up a couple of my favorite YA authors who give me my faux-history with a side of ghosts, just the way I like it. I can pretend to be living in Victorian England or 1920s New York AND doing magic on the side. And that’s all I want out of life, really.
Razorhurst, by Justine Larbalestier
An aspiring crime boss and a street urchin meet in 1930s Sydney, over the body of the former’s dead lover, and realize they can both talk to ghosts. Intrigued yet? Dymphna and Kelpie are no strangers to death, living in a violent world controlled by mob bosses. A must read for fans of organized-crime stories, Australia, and ghosts. So, everyone.
The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1), by Maureen Johnson
When Rory leaves her life in the States behind to attend a London boarding school, she has more to worry about than trying to fit in. Like developing the ability to see ghosts, and discovering a particularly murderous one is Jack-the-Ripper-ing its way through London. Johnson blends humor and plot twists and terror into a book you’ll…rip through.
Paperback $8.99 | $9.99
A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
An all-girls boarding school in Victorian England hides a terrible secret, and the recently bereaved Gemma Doyle and her friends must tap into a hidden power to save their world and a magical realm from those who would use its power to do harm. This series is all forbidden love, corsets, and magic, wrapped up in a delightful Victorian English package.
The Diviners, by Libba Bray
Roaring 20s + murder + paranormal powers = my kind of book. Evie tries to keep her powers a secret when she’s sent to live with her occult-obsessed uncle in New York, but then she realizes she can use them to stop a serial killer. But they’re just one part of this sprawling book, which gets a sequel, Lair of Dreams, this August. Obviously I have a soft spot for Libba Bray, but who can blame me when she just keeps turning out these great historical paranormal novels with badass heroines?
The Mirk and Midnight Hour, by Jane Nickerson
In this fairytale set against the backdrop of the Civil War, Southerner Violet stumbles across Union soldier Thomas injured in the woods. Think star-crossed lovers, but throw in some fairies and, of course, voodoo. Isn’t this a way more interesting way to learn about the Civil War than history class?
In The Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters
Between the war and outbreaks of Spanish Influenza, 1918 was a pretty tough time to be alive. Mary Shelley Black is a scientist who finds herself communicating with the ghost of her love, Stephen. She then dives into the world of seances and the dying, desperate to help him. A spooky and unflinching look at a tumultuous era in history.
The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd
Juliet Moreau doesn’t have the easiest life, between trying to fend for herself in Victorian England and dealing with a scandal that ruined her family’s reputation. Even her reunion with her disgraced father is less than pleasant: she finds out he’s been conducting crazy experiments on animals on a remote island, and things have gone deathly awry. Luckily there are two very hunky love interests to help her cope…