Young Women Throughout the (Alternate) Ages
March is Women's History Month. To celebrate, here are six fantastic novels of young adult historical fantasy -- all featuring strong female characters and grounded in some of the very real issues (racism, sexism, xenophobia) of their eras, but with added paranormal intrigue!
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Jane was born two days after the dead rose up at the Battle of Gettysburg. She was taken from her family to train as an Attendant -- a Black or Native girl trained in both subservience and weaponry in order to protect a wealthy white family from the shamblers. Jane hopes to return to her mother and her plantation home in Kentucky after graduation. But when her beau's sister disappears, Jane's investigation leads her to the corrupt Baltimore mayor -- who promptly sends her, her beau and her most annoying classmate to a frontier town in Kansas. Can Jane survive both racists and zombies and get back to her mother? The sequel, Deathless Divide, is now available.
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
When Celine flees Paris, she's taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline Convent in 1872 New Orleans. Celine quickly becomes involved in the rich supernatural underworld, La Cour des Lions, and falls for its leader, the mysterious Sébastien Saint Germain. When one of her fellow convent girls is found dead in La Cour des Lions' lair, Celine wonders if Sébastien is responsible -- but he isn't the only one keeping a terrible secret. Soon a serial killer is rampaging through New Orleans. Determined that she won't be the next victim, Celine takes the investigation into her own hands and becomes embroiled in a deadly supernatural feud. The Beautiful is first in a duology.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Rich hotelier and thief Séverin Montagnet-Alarie knows more secrets than anyone else in 1889 Paris. A powerful secret society has bribed him; he can reclaim his inheritance if he recovers an artifact that will locate a Babel fragment. Babel fragments are shards from the Tower of Babel, which can be used to manipulate both minds and objects. Séverin assembles a crew: Tristan, his adopted brother; Enrique, a historian; Zofia, an engineer; and Laila, a dancer who can read objects. But Séverin's inheritance isn't the only thing at stake -- so are their lives. This diverse heist story is great for fans of Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and first in another duology.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
When Evie O'Neill's gift for reading objects and uncovering secrets about their owners lands her in hot water, her parents send her from small-town Zenith, Ohio to New York City. 1926 is the height of the Jazz Age and Evie embraces it all, befriending a Ziegfield girl, a Harlem poet, a songwriter who can walk in dreams, and a pickpocket -- all with strange gifts of their own. Evie's uncle is curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (otherwise known as The Museum of Creepy Crawlies) and soon after Evie's arrival, he's asked to consult on a murder with ties to the occult. Soon, Evie and her friends are trying to stop a serial killer who might be something not quite human. This genuinely creepy novel brings the supernatural horror, and it's first in a quartet; all four books are now available.
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
When Frankie's mother dies, her father leaves her and her brother and sister at a Chicago orphanage. He claims it's only temporary, but then he remarries and moves out West with his new wife, her children, and Frankie's brother, leaving Frankie and her sister Toni behind. As Frankie struggles with poverty, injustice, and abuse at the orphanage --- and as the United States becomes involved in World War II -- she falls in love for the first time. Through it all, a ghost watches and remembers her own life and aches to help Frankie in her time of direst need. This beautifully-written National Book Award finalist for Young People's Literature is a standalone novel.
The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth
During a World War II air strike, the three Hapwell siblings are magically transported from their London bomb shelter to another realm. Six years later in Woodlands time -- but only seconds later in London -- they return home, forever changed. Philippa and Jamie are happy enough to be home, but Evelyn is desperate to find a way to return to the magical kingdom she loved by any means necessary. When Ev goes missing, Philippa -- who's moved to America for a fresh start -- wonders if her sister was able to find a way back, or if her memories became too much to bear. This is a haunting standalone novel perfect for readers who loved C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia but who might wonder how the Pevensies readjusted to reality.