Children’s / Teenage fiction: Historical fiction

The Queen's Resistance

The Queen's Resistance

Author: Rebecca Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2022

In this sequel to The Queen’s Rising, Brienna has chosen passion over blood, but can she put her country before her heart? Perfect for fans of SIX OF CROWS and Sarah J. Maas. Finally, Brienna is a mistress of knowledge and is settling into her role as the daughter of Davin MacQuinn, a disgraced lord who returned to Maevana to reclaim his house. Though she’s just survived a revolution, one that will finally return a queen to the throne, she faces another difficult challenge. She must prove herself trustworthy to the MacQuinns. But as Queen Isolde Kavanagh’s closest confidant, she’ll have to balance serving her father’s house as well as her country. And then there’s Cartier Evariste, a wholly separate factor in her new life. Now known as Aodhan Morgane, Cartier is adjusting to the stark contrast between his pre-rebellion life in Valenia as a master of knowledge and his current one as the lord of a fallen house. During his castle’s restoration, he discovers a ten-year-old boy named Tomas, whose past and parentage are a complete mystery. So when Cartier’s former pupil Brienna is as fond of Tomas as he is, he lets his mind wander – what if he doesn’t have to raise him or his house alone? As the Lannon trial rapidly approaches, Brienna and Cartier must put their feelings aside to concentrate on forging alliances, executing justice, and ensuring that no one interferes with the queen’s coronation. But resistance is rumbling among the old regime’s supporters, who are desperate to find a weakness in the rebels’ forces. And nothing makes a person more vulnerable than deep-seated love.

Baby Love

Baby Love

Author: Jacqueline Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2022

Once again, Jacqueline Wilson has created a pitch-perfect, heartfelt story for older readers, with emotionally engaging insights into teenage pregnancy and motherhood in the early 1960s, and a timelessly resonant representation of treading that tricky tightrope between childhood and teenhood. Imagine a moving, teen-centred episode of Call the Midwife with added empathy. 14-year-old Laura comes from a proud working-class family. Young for her age, Laura hasn’t had any experience of boys until she befriends glamorous, wealthy Nina, the daughter of two doctors. Laura is incredibly flattered by Nina’s attention, but aware she lives in what’s known as the “Shanty Town”, while Nina has everything she could possibly wish for, and kissing experience to boot. The dynamics between the two girls is incredibly realistic, perfectly capturing the differences between them. A trip to the lido sees Laura coaxed into spending time with a pair of older French boys. Uncomfortable with Nina’s flirting, Laura leaves, but one of the boys insists on walking her home, and leads her into the cricket changing rooms. She’s not sure what happened, but a few months later she discovers she’s pregnant. Deemed to be “spoiled goods”, Laura’s parents send her to a special home for girls in her circumstances, where she’s the youngest, where girls are typically forced to give up their babies. Truly moving, true-to-life, rich in detail that evokes the 1960s setting, and suffused with compassion, the beautiful afterword sees Laura in her seventies, reflecting on the courageous, life-changing decision she made all those years ago, thanks to the help of her forward-thinking aunt.

The Armourer's House

The Armourer's House

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/01/2022

What a treat it is for a Rosemary Sutcliff treasure to be newly presented to the world, and in a beautiful package that befits the story’s historic charms and thrills, with charming chapter heading illustrations by Isabel Greenberg, and an introduction by Lara Maiklem, the acclaimed author of Mudlarking. This Manderley Press edition of The Armourer’s House will make a glorious gift for fans of historic fiction who relish intrigue and atmosphere, and comes highly recommended for readers who love Eva Ibbotson’s writing, and contemporary writers like Celia Rees and Katherine Rundell. First published in 1951, The Armourer’s House is set in London during the reign of Henry VIII, and rich in the engaging period detail Sutcliff is renowned for. When her grandmother dies, Tamsyn leaves her Devonshire seaside town and ship merchant Uncle Martin to live with Uncle Gideon in his armourer’s house on the Thames. Having a wife and large family, Gideon is deemed a more suitable guardian, but Tamsyn “did not want to be brought up properly, she only wanted to be happy”. She also longs to “have adventure and sail the seas of the world” — how on earth will she manage so far from the sea? Though something of a fish out of water in London’s chaos, Tamsyn’s imagination and heart are captured by the river traffic that passes Dolphin House, with her new excitement engagingly evoked alongside details of life in Tudor London — the Royal Dockyard, Billingsgate fish market, the autumnal “pink-flushed sky” behind Westminster, King Henry VIII himself travelling in the Royal Barge with Queen Anne Boleyn. Tellingly, Tamsyn “liked the Queen best, observing how her eyes were “terribly unhappy”. Then, on magic-charged Midsummer’s Eve, a Wise Woman presages that Tamsyn will find her “heart’s desire”, enhancing the novel’s aura of enchantment, and leading to a delightful denouement. Heartily satisfying for 9+ year-olds who love historic fiction, this also comes recommended as wonderful book to read together — no one is too old for the joys of reading aloud and being read to, and this ideal for exactly that.

Skin of the Sea

Skin of the Sea

Author: Natasha Bowen Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/11/2021

This thrilling debut is infused with the history, language and mythology of West Africa. Set in the mid 1400’s when the Portuguese first began abducting and then buying West Africans, it pursues an interesting perspective on the terrible human cost of the Slave Trade. The author describes in a note how she came across many stories featuring Yemoja, a Yoruba deity with the tail of a fish. Stories of giving comfort to Africans on the ships, or wrecking slave vessels or escorting home the souls of those who died and were discarded in the sea. From this and her own fascination with the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the author has created an unforgettable story. Yemoja has created many Mami Wata, mermaids tasked with escorting the souls of enslaved people thrown into the sea. Simindele, a teenage girl, is one of them, but when she instead saves the life of a boy, she unwittingly puts all the Mami Wata in peril and must seek the forgiveness of the supreme deity. The boy she saves also has a dangerous mission to save his family and on their perilous journey they grow dangerously close. Just like The Little Mermaid, if Simi were to act upon her feelings she would dissolve into sea foam and just like Andersen’s creation Simi’s travels in human form on land cause her terrible pain. In the denouement there is also a hint of Persephone and Hades in her dealings with the oceanic equivalent of the Underworld. Throughout this action packed adventure the narrative is enriched with elements of West African language and we learn fascinating detail about their sophisticated societies, mathematical prowess, customs and religion. This is an innovative and refreshing mix of western and African myth wrapped up in a really rewarding read that should find many fans.

Debut Books of the Month
When the Sky Falls

When the Sky Falls

Author: Phil Earle Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/2021

1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love? Inspired by a true story.

The Midnight Guardians

The Midnight Guardians

Author: Ross Montgomery Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/11/2020

Sometimes at the darkest hour, hope shines the brightest... When Col's childhood imaginary friends come to life, he discovers a world where myths and legends are real. Accompanied by his guardians - a six-foot tiger, a badger in a waistcoat and a miniature knight - Col must race to Blitz-bombed London to save his sister. But there are darker forces at work, even than the Nazi bombings. Soon Col is pursued by the terrifying Midwinter King, who is determined to bring an eternal darkness down over everything.

The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep and Thorny Way

Author: Cat Winters Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/03/2016

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare's Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten. 1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee's oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father's killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee's father wasn't killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him who happens to be Hanalee's new stepfather. The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a haint wandering the roads at night.

Wonderstruck

Wonderstruck

Author: Brian Selznick Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/09/2011

Ben's story takes place in 1977 and is told in words. Rose's story in 1927 is told entirely in pictures. Ever since his mother died, Ben feels lost. At home with her father, Rose feels alone. When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mother's room, and when a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose, both children risk everything to find what's missing. Rich, complex, affecting and beautiful, WONDERSTRUCK is a staggering achievement from a uniquely gifted artist.