This month I am going to be focussing on historical fantasy. There’s quite a bit of overlap between historical fantasy and other categories that I’ve already talked about, such as epic fantasy and fairytale retellings. The main distinction is that historical fantasy is set in some approximation of the real historical world (usually with added magic) and not in a secondary world. On the other hand, it needn’t be exactly the real world. Alternate history settings including the popular subgenre of steampunk and it’s cousin, gas lamp fantasy, also fit under the broad historical fantasy umbrella. Although alternate history without magical elements is more usually counted as science fiction, it’s all spec fic here.
The first author I want to mention is Jenny Schwartz who, as well as writing spec fic romance, has written several steampunk novellas. Some of those, such as the series beginning with Wanted, One Scoundrel and continuing with Clockwork Gold, and Curses and Confetti, are set in Western Australia, but others, such as The Icarus Plot, reviewed by Brenda, take place in the more common steampunk setting of Victorian London.
Continuing in the steampunk vein, there’s Heart of Brass by Felicity Banks, a novel about a woman with a brass heart who is transported to van Dieman’s land and ends up in the Victorian goldfields. Check out Emily A Keyboard and an Open Mind‘s review. There’s also a sequel, Silver and Stone, but that has yet to be reviewed for AWW.
Going back much further in time, there’s Skin by Ilka Tampke, which was reviewed by Julia Tulloh and for which the sequel is apparently due early next year. Skin takes place in southwestern Britain before/during the Roman invasion (43 AD, according to the blurb) and blends mythology and magic.
Jumping forward again, there’s Alison Goodman’s Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact, which was reviewed by and Tien @Tien’s Blurb. This is the sequel to Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club and has a paranormal Regency setting.
Set in 1932 historic Sydney, Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier is a YA historic novel which is speculative fiction by virtue of including ghostly characters to go with the hard-knock (and dangerous) lives of its protagonists. Check out this review from Jennifer Cameron-smith.
A couple more books I’ll mention only briefly:
- The Mascherari by Laura
- From the Wreck by Jane Rawson is about the survivor of a shipwreck in 1859 and an alien. It’s gotten a lot of reviews, such as this one by Ashleigh Meikle – The Book Muse.
What’s your favourite historical fantasy (or steampunk) novel written by an Australian woman? Let me know in the comments!