Today on the blog we’re talking two of my favourite things: history and YA! Historical fiction can be a love-hate affair, conjuring up images of dense prose and dreary detail, but when it’s done well it can be fantastic. And it has so much potential. It has all of history at its disposal!
So what would I like to see more of? Well…
First up: actual medieval fantasy/historical fiction. ‘Medieval’ has become a catch-all or default term for any historical fiction-meets-fantasy world, but really good Middle Ages-set (roughly between years 500-1500 JUST DON’T ASK A MEDIEVALIST ABOUT IT for the love of god) teen fiction is quite rare. And okay, it was 99% terrible for everyone, but there were still many interesting events and people that haven’t been written about yet! That is a long time. Centuries’ worth of stories. Peasants and princes and dramatic storytelling possibilities.
A classy spy drama with a capable, complex female lead (and great outfits). Me? Still bitter over the cancellation of Agent Carter?
Fancy high-society discovering-secrets YA set in Edinburgh. Or anywhere that isn’t London, really. I know, I know, London was where people paraded around in their finery and where eligible heiresses were presented to the royal family so they could become even fancier and more eligible or whatever but there were surely interesting things happening somewhere outside it…
An Indiana Jones-style archaeologist-explorer adventure with a courageous heroine. Look, I know he’s not great at preserving Sites of Importance, but Indiana Jones is the big name in action adventure. Movies tend to objectify (yes, Lara Croft, I’m looking at you) but a female-led archaeo-adventure in YA would be A+.
ARTHURIAN ROMANCE. Epic quests, the Round Table, castles, magic, dragons, Middle English no one can read… WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T THINK HE WAS REAL
YA set in the free-spirited 1960s. Or 1900s France. (…I have very specific tastes in historical eras.)
Historical fiction set in the Byzantine empire. I’ve never seen any young adult fiction set in the heyday of the Byzantine empire, but it was SO INTERESTING. There’s art and a whole different culture and my faves Justinian and Theodora *heart eyes emoji*
More historical YA about badass ladies. This is bit of a theme when it comes to book requests from me, to be honest, but there are SO MANY AMAZING WOMEN in history. Warriors and daughters and musicians and teen heroines doing things. Badass covers a multitude: intelligent, hard-working, brave, skilled, honourable, flawed – or maybe ALL ALL OF THE ABOVE IN THE SAME PERSON?! *collective gasp*
Robin Hood. I’ve yet to read a young adult take on Robin Hood that I’d give five stars! I know there are movies and the BBC’s version is a strong television adaptation, but- WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T THINK HE WAS REAL EITHER
And of course: historical fiction set in unusual time periods and places. I’d just like to see more exciting, different stories about teenagers in history. There’s so much to choose from, and what I’ve mentioned here barely scratches the surface. An amazing book could be about a person you’ve never heard of or a place you know very little about (…except that they probably had badass ladies doing awesome things there at some point).
What about you? Historical fiction: love it or loathe it? What would you like to see more of in YA?