historical fiction

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. …

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*.…

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.…

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.…

Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale by Ann Shortell

A fine example of Canadian historical fiction, Ann Shortell’s Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale (2018, Friesen Press) is constructed around the actual assassination of D’Arcy McGee, one of the fathers of confederation, on April 7th, 1868 as he was returning from Parliament to Mrs. Trotter’s boarding house. The assailant was never seen, but Patrick J. Whelan (“Jimmy”) was later arrested, convicted and hanged as the culprit.…

Being Mary Ro by Ida Linehan Young

might be forgiven if, after seeing the book’s cover, they think Being Mary Ro (2018, Flanker Press) is another stereotypical Victorian-era romance novel. In some ways it is, but Being Mary Ro is more historical fiction than it is romance, similar to Genevieve Graham’s Promises to Keep. Like that book, it is based on a historical incident and broadened to include fictional characters and other historical references.…

First Quarter Best Reads of 2018: Fiction

it is almost May and the Spring 2018 titles are upon us! While I have been able to review some of them, thanks to advance reading copies (ARCs) from the publishers, I thought I would highlight some of the best reads from the last few months.The following titles are in no particular order.

Short Fiction

Historical Fiction

Some Observations

The first thing you might notice, and I have no explanation for this, is that there are more titles here from female writers vs.…

Piau: Journey to the Promised Land by Bruce Murray

is encouraging to see more books (either fictional or non-fictional) being written about the Acadians and their lives and way of life before and after 1755. That was the year of “Le Grand Dérangement” when they were the victims of cultural genocide by the occupying British command and put on ships to be dispersed around the globe, never to return to their beloved Acadia.…

A Splendid Boy by Melanie Martin

Since it has been one hundred years since the Battle of the Somme in WWI, there have been numerous books produced, both fiction and non-fiction that deal with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and its heavy involvement in the Great War. A Splendid Boy (2016, Flanker Press) by Melanie Martin is a fine example of the type of historical fiction Flanker Press produces.…

Dancing in a Jar by Adele Poynter

Life in the small Newfoundland village of St. Lawrence was not easy in the early 1930’s. The town was still recovering from the tsunami that hit there in 1929. The disaster killed 28 people and left hundreds more homeless or destitute. It was the most destructive earthquake-related event in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history and, making matters worse, occurred at the beginning of a worldwide depression.…

This Marlowe by Michelle Butler Hallett

“Treachery and treason, there’s always an excuse for it.” – Mark Knopfler

Such is the world of This Marlowe (Goose Lane Editions 2016) by Michelle Butler Haslett. The time: Elizabethan England in 1593. The Reformation is passed, but protestant England cannot relax, fearful that Catholics will try to take the throne after Elizabeth dies (or is assassinated), since she has no successor.…

Algonquin Quest Series Books One and Two by Rick Revelle

Kingston (Ontario) area author Rick Revelle has authored two books now in his Algonquin Quest series, I am Algonquin (2013, Dundurn Press) and Algonquin Spring (2015, Dundurn Press). While they are in the Young Adult (YA) genre, they are very mature in tone, and I was totally engrossed in them. In fact, by the middle of Book One, I was greatly anticipating Book Two which I had waiting on the shelf.…