Into the Past
I sound like a broken record sometimes about the power of books, but I think one of the most magical things about reading is how it can sweep us up and transport us to other worlds and times and help us experience something without actually being there. Reading stories set in the past can help us understand that time, bringing the past alive to show us what it was like to live in a different time by putting us right in the middle of a story. As a reader, I like having some excitement in the stories to make them even more enjoyable. Here is a selection of books set in the past with page-turning drama, including mystery, murder, and adventure.
The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
In early 1900s Canada, the neighboring communities of Buxton and Chatham share the legend of the “Madman of Piney Woods.” When Benji of Buxton, a descendant of American slaves, and Red of Chatham, a descendant of Irish immigrants, meet at a school event and strike up a friendship, they find they have much in common, including feeling the strange presence of the Madman of Piney Woods.
When Horn's war party found the girl, she was hidden in the corner of the cave, undressed, and past comforting by the wolves who raised her. They had been slaughtered by the Lawspeaker's band or else run off, howling their rage and loneliness. A foundling, surely, filthy, perhaps seven or eight summers old. Horn, the Lawspeaker, growled that she should not join the Storn tribe. A worthless child . . . another mouth to feed in starving times.
This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from stories, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin, a High Lord of the faeries. As her feelings toward him transform from hostility to a fiery passion, the threats against the faerie lands grow. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse or she will lose Tamlin forever. (catalog summary)
Read the other book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series:
A Court of Mist and Fury
Though Feyre now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, but as she navigates the feared Night Court's dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. (catalog summary)
If you like Maas' epic, romantic fantasy check out these other titles (adult and teen) as well:
The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
In 20th century Princeton, New Jersey, a powerful curse, which besets the wealthiest of families, causes the disappearance of a young bride, and when her brother sets out to find her, he crosses paths with the town's most formidable people, including Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair. (catalog summary)
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast—unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever. (catalog summary)
Orphaned Kit Tyler had found life with her rich grandfather in Barbados to be wonderful. But her grandfather’s death revealed that their life of tropical splendor was nothing more than an illusion. In debt and desperate, the 17-year-old had very few options.
Running away from an arranged marriage to a much older man, she and her many trunks of expensive clothes board the Dolphin on a voyage to Wethersfield, a Puritan village in Connecticut. She goes to meet her Aunt Rachel, her Uncle Matthew and their daughters—the only relatives she has.
While traveling, she catches the eye of John, a kind, poor student on his way to Wethersfield, and Nat, the captain’s son, who teases Kit about her aristocratic upbringing. She truly enjoys being at sea, but even before she steps foot on the New England shore, she is accused of being a witch by yet another passenger heading to Wethersfield.
“I cannot live without books.” —Thomas Jefferson
Looking for some reading recommendations for your book club? Why not mix things up with a Young Adult (YA) title!
Gawain of Orkney doesn't need a squire. He's yet to make it to King Arthur's court to be knighted, and, if he does need a squire later, he has a few brothers in the hinterlands who will do. For his part, Terence is perfectly happy taking care of his foster father, the hermit Trevisant. He is a kind boy and an excellent cook, though granted a bit confused at present. Just recently the trees had started talking to him.
Trevisant, however, has other ideas. After a shared pot of excellent stewed rabbit, the hermit tells the pair that they are destined to achieve great things together. Terence tells Gawain that it must be so, since Trevisant has the gift to see the future as if it were the past.
Ricky Desmond is in trouble. Big trouble.
The seventeen-year-old is now in his third “treatment” facility, and Brookline Hospital is much different from the rest. In fact, it’s a mental asylum.
Abi Tamper leads a very restricted life as a maid in the Greaves household. It’s the 1850s, so there’s lots for a hired girl to do around a mansion in London, and next to none of it is enjoyable.
This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
According to UrbanDictionary.com, "Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes."
If you like the Steampunk genre, then you might be interested in the following titles:
The Affinity Bridge: A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation by George Mann
Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes, agents of Queen Victoria, battle both physical and supernatural enemies of the crown. They are called in to investigate the wreckage of a crashed airship and its missing automaton pilot while dealing with a zombie plague in the slums of the capital and attempting to solve a string of strangulations credited to a mysterious glowing policeman. (catalog summary)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Inventor Leviticus Blue creates a machine that accidentally decimates Seattle's banking district and uncovers a vein of Blight Gas that turns everyone who breathes it into the living dead. Sixteen years later Briar, Blue's widow, lives in the poor neighborhood outside the wall that's been built around the uninhabitable city. Life is tough with a ruined reputation, but she and her teenage son Ezekiel are surviving--until Zeke impetuously decides that he must reclaim his father's name from the clutches of history. (catalog summary)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Book #1 of the Luner Chronicles)
As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story. (catalog summary)