2020 “The Very Best!” Book Awards: Best Historical Fiction Winners!

The Historical Fiction category returned in a big way after being absent in 2019. The winners here range from the British Home Child program to Black activism to a historical crime committed in rural Nova Scotia. As with the other categories, it was a shame that the well-stocked shortlist was made shorter!

The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant by Jeanette Winsor

Winsor paints a vivid description of the difficulties of a young woman destined to be a healer and a seer, an apprentice of an older woman, in Ireland in the mid 1800’s. Superstition and bad luck places Molly Chant in a dire situation. Cast out as a witch, Molly is meant to be hung by the neck until she is rescued by a man that exclaims her only chance to live is to flee on a ship heading to Newfoundland.…

2020 Shortlist: Best Historical Fiction!

The “Best Historical Fiction” category went missing last year for “The Very Best!” Book Awards, but it’s back and there were many good titles produced in this genre. Here are five of the best that were reviewed here at TMR:

Of the above five titles, three will be awarded either gold, silver, or bronze award early in September 2020.…

The Liars by Ida Linehan Young

Ida Linehan Young’s The Liars is a sequel to The Promise, (2019) which was a spin-off of 2018’s Being Mary Ro. There is no doubt that she is amongst the best of the best of Newfoundland’s storytellers, in a class with Gary Collins and Kevin Major, among others. If you haven’t read any of Ms. Linehan Young’s books, I encourage you to start with Being Mary Ro which sets the locales and people that will eventually appear in The Promise, with its quintessential cliff-hanger ending, thus making The Liars required reading. …

Torn Asunder by Renny DeGroot

When it comes to historical fiction, I’m choosy. I want to see you’ve put your back into your work. Stimulate me. Make me set your book on my chest mid-paragraph and go ahhh… that’s good writing! And I’m cautious when it comes to reviewing work I’m unfamiliar with. People I like have asked me to proof, edit, and beta-read their work.…

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

1896 to 1948, over 100,000 children were shipped from Britain to Canada under the “British Home Child” program. It is a little-known part of Canadian history, and one not to be especially proud of. Bestselling author Genevieve Graham (Tides of Honour, At the Mountain’s Edge) has crafted a fine example of how historical fiction can be both entertaining and informative*.…

Warrior on the Western Waters: Dangerous Loyalties Book Three by Phyllis A. Still

Dangerous Loyalties book series is now up to three installments with the release of Warrior on the Western Waters*. I have been following this series since it’s inception when I was tasked with reviewing it for a U.S. book review website that is now closed. The series deals with the Shirley family, who are American patriots trying to live a peaceful life without the interference of the British Crown.…

Dangerous Loyalties Books One & Two by Phyllis A. Still

Note: I originally wrote the following reviews for a now-defunct book review site in the U.S. As there is an impending Book Three in the works, I thought it best to combine the two reviews and publish them here at The Miramichi Reader.

Defiance on Indian Creek is a young reader type of historical novel set in the late 18th century in the 13 colonies of New England, specifically West Virginia where Michael Shirley resides with his family in a two-story log home.…

A Roll of the Bones by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole

author Trudy J. Morgan-Cole’s newest book, A Roll of the Bones (2019, Breakwater Books) is a work of historical fiction based on the small colony established in 1610 by John Guy in Cupids, Newfoundland on Conception Bay which has the distinction of being the oldest continuously settled official British colony in Canada. While there is some historical documentation regarding the settlement, there doesn’t exist much information concerning the individuals that settled there for Ms.…

Exile Blues by Douglas Gary Freeman

recently watched the 2013 movie Lee Daniel’s The Butler which I thought notable for vividly depicting the struggle for desegregation in Washington D.C. during the late 1950s and early 1960s by both peaceful and radical means. Viewed through the lens of time, it is even more shocking to think that humans treated other humans less favourably based on skin colour alone.…

Books for Children from Newfoundland & Labrador 2019 (Part Two): Running the Goat Books and Broadsides

Running the Goat Books & Broadsides is a micro-press specializing in letterpress-printed and fine trade books, chapbooks and broadsides by some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s finest writers, and I’ve put off writing about them long enough. For the past few months, the kind folks at Running the Goat have been sending me the most astounding books for children and young people.…

Land Beyond the Sea by Kevin Major

It seems that Newfoundlanders write some of the best historical fiction around (see Gary Collins) and Kevin Major continues to uphold that distinction with Land Beyond the Sea. In my review of his 2016 novel Found Far and Wide, I said that “Mr. Major has left us wanting more, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” So it was with great anticipation that I turned to this, the final book in his Newfoundland Trilogy.…

Precept by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

Self-published Nova Scotian author Matthew de Lacy Davidson has released his first novel Precept, and it is firmly in the historical fiction genre. I particularly enjoy these types of novels, for one learns something, if not of the actual event, then about the personages themselves. Precept is no exception. The 19th-century historical figure of Frederick Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist, has escaped to Ireland to avoid recapture and certain death.…

La Brigantessa by Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli

Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli’s ambitious debut novel, La Brigantessa has already garnered awards and nominations, such as the Winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Historical Fiction and Finalist for the 2019 Fred Kerner Book Award. No doubt more recognition will come (best cover art?) for her and La Brigantessa. Update: La Brigantessa’s cover did win an award! See: https://miramichireader.ca/2019/09/2019-very-best-book-awards/

The historical background of this engrossing book is General Garibaldi’s campaign against Rome that led to his wounding and imprisonment after being defeated in the Calabrian mountains of the Aspromonte in 1862.…