I read in many genres, but the two genres I read the most in are fantasy and historical fiction in adult and young adult. At first those may seem like an odd combination, after all one focuses on what could be and the other what was, but for those very reasons they go together so well. I love contemporary now and again, especially contemporary that deals with tough issues like breakups, mental illness, and other struggles, but when reading for myself I like to escape into fiction that is different than reality. Both fantasy and historical fiction fill that gap for me. At times I often wish historical fiction got as much attention as fantasy.
I started young in both genres. Books like Harry Potter got me addicted to fantasy while my interest in historical topics led me to historical fiction so I could experience the past. Some of my favorite recent fantasy reads include Caraval, Uprooted, and Wintersong. Some of my favorite historicals are The Violinist of Venice, Burial Rites, and Flight of the Sparrow.
I like experiencing different worlds, time periods, customs, and views. Both fantasy and historical fiction excel at giving me that. I can step into a fantasy and discover how a world with magic and a new religion would influence society. Likewise, I can step into the past into Renaissance Italy or Celtic Britain to read about historical religious issues and superstitious beliefs. I can read about fashion and customs different than my own, as well as different political worries while still relating to the core human aspects of the world.
Something I don’t see enough of is fantasy and historical fiction getting meshed together. I see a lot of fantasies based partly on some historical time period or place, but adding fantasy elements into real historical time periods can be a fun way of exploring both what was and what could have been. For those who find regular historicals boring, fantasy elements can add enough spice to hold reader fascination. If you’re a fantasy fan but struggle to find historical fiction interesting enough, try some historical fantasy. A Darker Shade of Magic comes to mind. Historical fantasy could be your gateway into regular historical fiction.
I’m actually searching for some great historical fantasies to read, so if anyone has any recommendations let me know!