Genre Exploration: Historical fantasy

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. A while ago I started a new series of blog posts exploring genres and sharing some recommendations for said genre. Today I am finally continuing this series, since it’s been a little while since I posted the first. The genre I’m going to be talking about today is historical fantasy. Up until recently I wasn’t really aware of this sub-genre, but now I really enjoy it and want to read a lot more of it. Historical fantasy tend to be set somewhere in Earth’s history with the addition of fantastical elements such as magic. Myths and legends can also be used, in place of historical events, as the focus of the story. It may be the case that the world is an entirely fictional one but it strongly resembles a time period of earth. It can be tricky to accurately explain these sub-genres as there tends to be a lot of cross overs between them. This explanation is a little short but hopefully that just means I’ve been concise. Let’s move onto some recommendation.



Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

This one is set in a fictionalized version of the Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China. It was one of my favourite reads from last year. Check out my full review here.

Fudoki / Kij Johnson

Set in 12th Century Japan, this is a dual narrative story that follows Harueme, an elderly Princess, and Kaguya-hime, a cat woman. This is one of my all time favourite books and it blends fantasy with historical fiction incredibly well.

the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden

Set in medieval Russia, this follows a young girl called Vasya as she tries to find her place in the world. Each book in this trilogy is fantastic and I loved the setting of these books.

The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

Set in medieval China, this is a middle grade book that follows a young girl called Li Jing. This book was so enjoyable to read and the cover is so pretty.

Daughter of the Forest / Juliet Marillier

This one is a loose retelling of the Six Swans myth. We follow Sorcha as she must complete a quest to save her brothers. This was my first book by this author and I loved it.

A Natural History of Dragons / Marie Brennan

Although set in a fictional world, it bears a striking resemble to Victorian (19th century) England. This book follows a young woman called Isabella, aka Lady Trent, who wants to study dragon. Check out my full review here.

Unread examples: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik and The Golemn and the Jinni by Helen Wrecker.

That’s it for today. I definitely want to read more from this sub-genre because I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve read. Obviously I’ll be checking out more from Guy Gavriel Kay, since I’ve loved what I’ve read from him do far. Do you enjoy historical fantasy? What are some of your favourites? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.


5 thoughts on “Genre Exploration: Historical fantasy

  1. Yes to Daughter of the Forest and A Natural History of Dragons! Whenever I think of historical fantasy, those two come to mind.

    I’m so intrigued by the sound of Under Heaven, Fudoki and The Crystal Ribbon, as I’ve not heard of any of them before (though I have heard of Guy Gavriel Kay). I will look them up on Goodreads. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah you can read whichever one first. I read Fudoki first and I loved it. I would definitely recommend Fudoki over the Fox Woman though. Fudoki is one of my all time favourites.


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