While I personally love all kinds of historical fiction, I also adore the trend people have recently coined “non-dusty historical fiction.” Sounds exciting, right? Thrilling, even!
But what exactly does “non-dusty historical” mean?
A few examples I think fit this term:
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (YA, WWII, narrated by Death, possibly my favorite book ever. Read it, read it, read it! Oh, and yeah, here’s what the author signed in my copy when I met him at an SCBWI event in Munich.)
- Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (YA, medieval French nuns who are also assassins. Um, hello?)
- Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (YA, retelling of Robin Hood by a female member of his gang with one amaaaazing voice.)
- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Adult, Fitzgerald-esque portrayal of a twenty-something girl on the rise in New York with some of the most beautiful writing I’ve read this year)
These books are historical but don’t read like traditional historical. In each of these books, the fiction–the story itself–is what draws the readers in, with its voice, characters, or the thrill of an exciting plot that happens to be set in the past because that’s when it would have happened.
If you’re not convinced that there are historicals out there that offer as much of a thrill ride as some of the exciting sci-fi and dystopian stories out there, read this great post by J. Anderson Coats over on the Corsets and Cutlasses blog–btw a great new blog for historical fiction fans: http://corsetsandcutlasses.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/notonthequiz/
I think you’ll agree that “non-dusty historical” is definitely a thing, and a thing worth reading. Bonus points for suggesting other must read examples.!
12 thoughts on “Non-dusty Historicals”
I have Code Name Verity on my list, and I do believe it will fit the bill. 🙂
Love the Zusak inscription! And, yes, the book was excellent in the truest meaning of the word.
Yes! Code Name Verity totally falls into this category. I’m hoping it helps pave the way for a non-dusty historical craze!
I love the inscription by Zusak! The Book Thief is such an amazing book. Also, is there such a thing as a dusty historical? Because I’ve always kind of loved them.
LOL, I’m with you. I really love traditional historicals, too, but I think some people find them too stuffy and prefer the ones that have more of a modern feel to them.
Love the term “non-dusty historical.” One of my favorites is Number the Stars which just feels like a great story, not necessarily a historical novel.
Yes! Number the Stars is so, so good. I was having trouble thinking of MG examples, but that’s a perfect one.
I’d not heard the term before, it’s a great one 🙂 You’re totally right about The Book Thief, it’s an incredible work. Not dusty in any way at all.
I can’t remember where I first heard it, but I know it came up in one of the chats during writeoncon, and it stuck in my head. 🙂
I have to check some of these out. Thanks!
i also hadn’t heard the term before – but love those books! that zusak! what a guy, eh? great inscription.
I enjoyed your blog and agree completely. Loved The Book Thief and will check into the others you mentioned. Thanks!