New books by Historical Novel Society members, August 2021
Congrats to the following author members on their new releases! If you’ve written a historical novel or nonfiction work published (or to be published) in April 2021 or after, please send the following details in via our contact form or tweet @readingthepast by Oct. 7: author, title, publisher, release date, and a blurb of one sentence or less. Details will appear in November’s magazine. Submissions may be edited for space. This column is compiled by Sarah Johnson.
“The musical equivalent of The Da Vinci Code” is how one reviewer described Howard Jay Smith’s Meeting Mozart: From the Secret Diaries of Lorenzo Da Ponte (The Sager Group, Dec. 23, 2020), a deftly plotted and richly detailed historical novel that spans generations and involves mysteries, masquerades, opera, and spies while bringing to light the incredible life story of Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, the Jewish-born priest who created The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutte.
When Fiona Figg is found in Paris dressed as a bellboy and holding a bloody paper knife over the body of a dead countess, it’s not just her career on the block in High Treason at the Grand Hotel by Kelly Oliver (Level Best Books/Historia Imprint, Jan. 5).
In The Stories We Tell by Liz Milliron (Level Best Books/Historia Imprint, Feb. 9), set in late 1942, a Bell Airplane co-worker wants Betty Ahern to prove that the death of her grandmother was murder.
As depicted in DL Fowler’s The Turn: A Bond that Shaped History (Harbor Hill Publishing, Mar. 4), William Henry Johnson was not merely Abraham Lincoln’s shadow; he was his mirror.
The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney (Brigid’s Fire Press, Mar. 5) is based on the true Civil War story of the Nancy Harts of Georgia, the most famous female militia in American history.
In 1890, Lainie, facing peril and hope on a remote Idaho farm, learns that a wildflower can grow in the most unlikely places, including the darkness of flight, in The Shadow of Wildflowers by Alta Ione (StoryBridge Publications, Apr. 5).
Set in the opulent America of the Gilded Age, An Irish Wife by Deborah Lincoln (Blank Slate Press, Apr. 20) tells the story of a young man born to liberty and privilege, and of the Irish woman from the squalid life of the coal mines who shatters his world.
In Where Your Treasure Is by M. C. Bunn (Bellastoria Press, Apr. 23), after a Norfolk heiress and a down-on-his-luck prizefighter from London are thrown together during a botched bank robbery, their love strains the bounds of late Victorian society, revealing the complex web that binds social classes, and transforms the lives of their family and friends.
Alison Ferguson’s The Sisters’ Saga trilogy is newly released (Backstory Press, May 1). In Volume 1, Maiden Manoeuvres, set in colonial Sydney, Henrietta’s sisters collect flowers to catalogue and make detailed drawings, but Henrietta is not like them—she lets the petals scatter where they may. In Volume 2, Dearest Daughter, Henrietta’s sisters must answer the question: How much would they trade for matrimony? Concluding with Widow’s Wake, set over the course of a single voyage from Sydney to London in 1847, Henrietta must reconcile the regrets of her past in order to truly cast aside her widow’s weeds and embrace the adventures ahead.
The Hypno-Ripper by Donald K. Hartman (Themes & Settings in Fiction Press, May 3) contains two Victorian era tales dealing with Jack the Ripper and hypnotism, as well as a lengthy biographical profile on their con-artist author, Edward Oliver Tilburn.
Cut From the Earth (Next Chapter, May 9), the debut novel from Stephanie Renee dos Santos, book one of The Tile Maker Series and a semifinalist for the Chaucer Book Awards, tells the story of a Portuguese tile maker who harbors an illicit female designer to liberate the enslaved with art and escape the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.
Gina Conkle’s The Scot Who Loved Me (HarperCollins, May 25) is a fictional take on the Lost Treasure of Arkaig and a band of Scotswomen determined to recover it seven years after Culloden.
Guardians at the Wall by Tim Walker (Independently published, Jun. 1) is a dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall; archaeologists work to uncover Roman artefacts and build a narrative, whilst in the historical thread, a Roman centurion fights for his life in 2nd-century Britannia.
A seventeen-year-old girl in the early ’70s hitchhikes across Canada to blackmail a wealthy boy in Nancy Thorne’s The Somewhere I See You Again (Soul Mate, Jun. 2).
Naveen Sridhar’s Starlight in the Dawn: The Poetic Princess Who Chose to Fight (Amazon KDP, Jun. 2) tells the story of a princess and priestess who is the first literary person on record.
Enjoy the journey to 19th-century Australia in Liah S. Thorley’s colourful family drama, Homeward (Kara Fox Publishing, Jun. 2), which is full of pioneering spirit, romance, mystery and adventure.
Resistance, Book 1, Liberty by Eilidh Mcginness (Independently published, Jun. 7) is the first in a trilogy featuring a group of friends who join the French Resistance and find their loyalties tested to the limits.
Cry of the Innocent by Julie Bates (Level Best Books/Historia Imprint, Jun. 8) features Faith Clarke, who hurries to discover the truth behind a vicious murder at her tavern in Colonial Williamsburg just as the American Revolution begins.
Runner-up in the 2020 Page Turner Awards, Lara Byrne‘s Lotharingia (Independently published, Jun. 11) is a fictionalized re-writing of the youth of Countess Matilde of Tuscany, as she fights an uphill struggle against the oppressive patriarchal conventions of medieval Europe to experience love and forge her own destiny.
In Katie Hutton’s The Gypsy’s Daughter (Bonnier Zaffre, Jun. 24), the sequel to The Gypsy Bride (2020), set in Kent in 1954, Harmony ‘Harry’ Loveridge has ambitions to leave the farm where she has grown up to go as a scholarship student to university in Nottingham – until one fateful night, during the yearly hopping, something happens to Harry that could take everything away from her.
Malve von Hassell’s The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, Jun. 25) is a time-slip historical novel, set in Germany in 1644-45 and 1944-45.
Based on the life of a remarkable but little-known aerial stunt performer, The Only Living Lady Parachutist by Catherine Clarke (Idle Fancy Press, Jun. 28) introduces Lillian who risks her life by jumping from a hot air balloon in 1890s Australia and New Zealand — a story of courage and ambition, and the consequences of secrets and lies.
In Spain 1825, during the Ominous Decade of Ferdinand VII, a young and poetic girl experiences romance, adventure, and danger in the magical realism drama Only Sofia-Elisabete by Robin Elizabeth Kobayashi (independently published, Jun. 29).
In The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman (Level Best Books/Historia Imprint, Jul. 6), Martha Place, the first woman to be executed in the electric chair, recounts from the grave, the story of her life and punishment for murder in Brooklyn in 1898.
Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling by Zenobia Neil (Hypatia Books, Jul. 7) is a diverse, Minoan-inspired version of the myths of Ariadne and Dionysus.
In The Scribe (Haeddre Press, Jul. 9), a spoiled noble, an orphaned pickpocket, a Mamluk soldier, and a kindly scribe collide in this debut historical drama by Elizabeth R. Andersen set in 13th century Palestine on the eve of the infamous Siege of Acre.
A marriage of convenience leads to a life of passion and purpose when landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted weds his late brother’s widow Mary, in Gail Ward Olmsted’s Landscape of a Marriage (Black Rose Writing, Jul. 29).
In Caligula and I by Cy Stein (Abeel St. Press, Aug. 1), Silvanus grows to manhood with the heir to throne and later Emperor Caligula, watching him develop from an angry, enabled boy into an irrational, murderous infantile man with almost infinite power, while he himself and the slave he loves become increasingly disturbed about the path his life choices have taken.
Brave Crossing – A Journey In-Between by Maria Alvarez Stroud (Little Creek Press, Aug.) is based on her father’s journey from the Philippines as a Spanish Filipino in the early 1900s, landing in the Midwest – Chicago and eventually Wisconsin – right before WWI, a pandemic, and race riots were about to explode.
In Murder on Principle, Eleanor Kuhns’ latest Will Rees historical mystery (Severn House, Aug. 3), when the slave holder who has tracked Rees and the fugitives to Maine is murdered, Rees has to decide whether to investigate and identify the murderer or let him go.
In Deadly Cypher, Book Seven in The Deadly Series by Kate Parker (JDP Press, Aug. 24), when Britain’s nascent war effort is threatened by a murder at Bletchley Park, the nation’s counterintelligence spymaster tasks Olivia Redmond to investigate and protect the top secret codebreaking program at all cost.
Love in a Time of Hate by Matthew Langdon Cost (Encircle Publications, Aug. 25) is a historical novel about the fight for political and social equality in New Orleans after the Civil War, all interwoven around a murder mystery and a love story in a time of hate.
In Kevin St. Jarre‘s latest novel The Twin (Encircle Publications, Oct.), a fictional retelling of the story of Jesus of Nazareth from the point of view of Thomas Didymus, known to most as Doubting Thomas, the narrative draws upon the belief that Jesus traveled to Kashmir during the “missing” years of his youth, studied Buddhism, and then returned to Galilee to begin his ministry.
In Clarissa Harwood’s The Curse of Morton Abbey (Thornfield Press, Oct. 26), a gothic tale of romantic suspense at in 1890s England, solicitor Miss Vaughan Springthorpe accepts a suspiciously lucrative offer of employment to prepare the sale of a crumbling Yorkshire estate, but when she arrives, the mysterious occupants of the house seem to be trying to drive her away, threatening her sanity and even her life.