I love it when authors combine genres or throw in an element that you don’t typically expect in a certain genre, because when it works, it works well. I always enjoy historical fiction more when it has a twist. That twist may be a different genre (for example, thriller) or some intriguing and exciting element (for example, a supernatural character or creature).
Today I’m sharing 3 mini book reviews for 3 brilliant and profound historical fiction novels.
1. Dracul by JD. Barker
Barker is a genius thriller writer whose sinister plots are always bone-chilling. This novel is no exception. It’s an origin story of Dracula and Bram Stoker combined, beginning in 1868, and follows the experiences and relationships of young Bram Stoker and his sister, Matilda, from their childhood to adulthood; specifically, Bram’s relationship with his mysterious caretaker, Ellen.
There’s plenty of gruesome detail. Plenty of suspense. But the atmosphere clings to you in an almost unbearably palpable way, and Barker’s writing is so clever and vivid. The characters and relationships (especially Bram and Matilda’s sibling dynamic), are also compelling.
I was hooked on this story. If you love Gothic horror and anti-hero characters, then it’s the right book for you.
The twist: Something supernatural!
2. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
This book is one of the most beautifully tragic stories I’ve ever read. It spans twenty years, following the life of Alice Hart from her abusive childhood to her teenage years spent on her aunt’s flower farm, and then to her turbulent adulthood in the Australian desert. It’s about secrets. Family. Coming of age. And all the pain, loss, and love that encircles Alice’s life as she struggles to come to grips with her past.
Ringland’s writing is achingly poetic. The setting of the story moves across various striking locations in Australia. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a profound, original novel, and I can’t recommend it enough.
The twist: Magical realism!
3. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Flowery, colourful prose. A creepy and haunting atmosphere. Victorian London. Obsessive romance. Gothic horror.
This book wasn’t for me, but I’m recommending it because if you love a slow, chilling thriller with all the above elements, then it is the perfect book for you. The characters’ agendas are twisted and fascinating. There are also many gruesome descriptions. But the plot is unique, and the setting so fully realised you feel as if you’re on the gritty streets of London or locked away in the doll maker’s workshop yourself. It’s an historical fiction thriller that makes the most of its time period. It’s morbid and intoxicating.
The twist: Thriller plot.
What are your favourite historical fiction novels?
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I’m a writer and content creator from Cape Town. Thriller novels, action movies, rainy days & coffee are some of my favourite things. Connecting with people who love books and movies as much as I do is my favourite thing about life online.