25 Spellbinding Historical Fantasy Books

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Have you ever imagined entering a time machine and finding yourself in a world where magic, dragons, and ancient prophecies are real? This world exists in the pages of historical fantasy books, a subgenre that blends history with fantasy elements to create a unique and captivating reading experience.

This curated list offers a diverse range of imaginative historical fantasies, from timeless classics like Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan to modern hits like Leigh Bardugo’s The Familiar. So, grab your cloak and sword, and let’s explore the fascinating world of historical fantasy together.

The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Ninth House comes an intricately woven tale set in the Spanish Golden Age. Meet Luzia Cotado, an unsuspecting young woman whose fate becomes tangled with that of Antonio Pérez, the corrupt secretary to the king. As she navigates a dangerous landscape of politics and sorcery, she turns to Guillén Santángel, an enigmatic immortal harboring his own mysterious past.

Weyward by Emilia Hart

In her gripping debut novel, Weyward, Emilia Hart weaves together the stories of three extraordinary women from different eras. Bound by blood and a powerful natural magic coursing through their veins, Altha, Violet, and Kate unearth their inner fortitude and resilience in the midst of adversity.

The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden

From the author of The Bear and the Nightingale comes a spellbinding historical fantasy, The Warm Hands of Ghosts. The story follows a WWII combat nurse who embarks on a journey to find her brother, believed to be a casualty of war, despite bizarre signs that suggest otherwise.

Babel by R.F. Kuang

K.F. Huang crafts a mesmerizing historical fantasy, where emotion, history, and intricate characters come to life. In 1828, orphan Robin Swift is taken to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell, where he undergoes intense language training and studies. His ultimate goal: to walk the halls of Oxford University, also known as Babel. But as he delves deeper into his education, Robin realizes that supporting Babel may require betraying his homeland.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

In the 18th century, a timeless tale unfolds in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Meet a young woman who strikes a fateful bargain for eternal life. But beware…every choice has a consequence, and Addie’s will be felt for all eternity.

Lady Macbeth by Ava Reid

Prepare to be swept away to a time long-forgotten: medieval Scotland. Ava Reid’s gothic retelling of Shakespeare’s infamous character, Lady Macbeth, is a hauntingly beautiful portrayal that gives her an opportunity to tell her story in a way that has never been explored before.

Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg

In 1846, a struggling writer named Merritt Fernsby receives an unexpected inheritance: the mysterious and secluded Whimbrel House in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. But as he settles into his new abode, Merritt discovers that the house is not exactly welcoming. In fact, it seems downright hostile.

A Sweet Sting of Salt by Rose Sutherland

A Sweet Sting of Salt is an enchanting sapphic retelling of the classic folklore tale ‘The Selkie Wife’ that takes place on the rugged coast of Nova Scotia in the 19th century. A midwife’s night takes a shocking turn when she stumbles upon a woman in labor. Following the delivery, she meets the woman’s husband, who seems to be hiding something. Despite her reservations, the midwife is drawn to her mysterious neighbor and their unexpected friendship leads to a web of secrets and revelations.

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty

Amina thought she could finally hang up her pirate hat and settle into a peaceful life after braving the treacherous Indian Ocean and establishing her reputation as one of the most notorious pirates around. But when a former partner offers a staggering amount of money for her help in rescuing her kidnapped daughter, Amina can’t resist the call of the sea.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni is a lush tale that centers around two supernatural creatures who, after a chance meeting in 19th century New York, befriend each other. As their bond deepens, their relationship is put to the ultimate test when a powerful threat emerges, forcing them to make an impossible choice. 

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

In the late 1800s, the suffrage movement is gaining momentum. No one believes in witches anymore, until three estranged Eastwood sisters – James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna – come together and start using witchcraft to change the course of the world’s future. Harrow’s spellbinding narrative weaves together historical fiction, fantasy, and feminism in this captivating novel. The Once and Future Witches is without a doubt one of the best historical fantasy books out there.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

At just eighteen years old, Iris Winnow is struggling to hold her family together. In an effort to cope with her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother, placing them under her wardrobe where they mysteriously disappear. What she doesn’t realize is that these letters are finding their way into the hands of Roman Kitt, her rival at the Oath Gazette. Rebecca Ross artfully blends threads of romance, mystery, history, and magic, crafting a historical fantasy that is utterly divine.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

In His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik weaves a captivating adventure that seamlessly merges the fantastical with the historical. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Will Laurence, a distinguished British naval officer, unexpectedly discovers a dragon egg aboard a French ship. This fortuitous encounter forever alters the course of Laurence’s life, as he becomes the reluctant companion and handler of Temeraire, an extraordinary and intelligent dragon.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a lyrical and enchanting debut from bestselling author Alix E. Harrow. The historical fantasy novel tells the story of January Scaller, a young woman who discovers a mysterious book that opens doors to incredible revelations, unimaginable truths, and a love story that will stay with you forever.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Award-winning author Shelley Parker-Chan weaves a gripping tale of survival, sacrifice, and rebellion in her historical fantasy novel, She Who Became the Sun. In 14th-century China,  female monk Zhu will stop at nothing to break free from her predetermined destiny and seize control of her own future. For fans of the Ming Dynasty and anyone in search of a fresh take on a classic tale, this book is a must-read.

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Immerse yourself in medieval Spain through the vividly crafted tales of Guy Gavriel Kay, an award-winning author renowned for his realistic historical fantasies. The Lions of Al-Rassan is a gripping tale set in a reimagined Iberian Peninsula before the Reconquista. It is filled with sweeping action, romance, and political intrigue, making it a brilliant historical fantasy that will keep you captivated until the very end.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Vasilisa goes against her family, church, and society to save her wintry Russian home from an evil force that threatens to destroy everything she holds dear. The Bear and the Nightingale is an enchanting fairytale steeped in mythology, magic, fantastical creatures, forbidden love, and lyrical prose. It is perfect for readers who enjoy historical fantasy books rooted in Russian folklore.

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell 

In his epic Warlord Chronicles trilogy, Bernard Cornwell breathes new life into the ancient legend of King Arthur. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of medieval lore or simply looking for a captivating read, this trilogy is a must for any historical fantasy bookshelf. 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Join Kell, one of the rare few with the ability to cross between the parallel Londons. As an ambassador for the Maresh Empire, Kell is constantly on the move, delivering messages and smuggling artifacts. But one fateful trip to White London goes awry, leaving Kell in possession of a dangerous stone from Black London.

Enter Delilah Bard, a skilled thief from Grey London, who becomes entangled in Kell’s fate when the stone falls into her hands.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Looking for a riveting historical fantasy read? Look no further than The Poppy War by bestselling author R.F. Kuang. This tantalizing trilogy draws inspiration from the tumultuous history of twentieth-century China, weaving together magic, violence, and vivid imagery to create an unputdownable read. For fans of epic military fantasies, The Poppy War is an absolute must-read.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights is an innovative retelling of the classic love story of Romeo and Juliet, but this time the story is set in the Shanghai of the twentieth century. Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov find themselves in the middle of a violent feud between two rival gangs. However, their fight for love is not the only obstacle they face, as they must also confront a host of terrifying monsters lurking in the shadows of the city.

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

When Robin Blyth accidentally becomes the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, his life takes a shocking turn. Brimming with mystery, magic, and romance, A Marvellous Light is a much-needed addition to historical fantasy fans’ shelves.

The Sins on Their Bones by Laura R. Samotin

Are you ready for a thrilling journey into a fantastical version of 19th century Eastern Europe? Look no further than The Sins on Their Bones. Filled with Jewish mysticism and folklore, this compelling tale follows two estranged husbands torn apart by a civil war, and a daring spymaster caught in the middle. If you’re a fan of Leigh Bardugo and C.S. Pacat, get ready for an intense and darker twist on the genre.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Experience 18th century Cairo through the eyes of Nahri, a skilled and cunning con artist who always seems to outsmart the elite noblemen of the city. But when her latest scam unexpectedly calls forth the powerful djinn warrior Dara, Nahri’s plans take a drastic turn. Together, they embark on a treacherous journey through the unforgiving desert, with Nahri’s ultimate goal being the illustrious city of brass, Daevabad.

What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

When tragedy strikes and leaves 18-year-old Inez orphaned, she embarks on a quest for answers about her family’s untimely end. With a new, enigmatic guardian by her side, Inez journeys to Cairo, only to discover a city shrouded in mystical forces.