Some good historical fantasy for young adults

My daughter said I was welcome to read her books while she is away at college, and even pointed out some good ones. Here are reviews of a couple of her YA books that I particularly enjoyed.

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors (2008)

This is a very clever historical fantasy about a 17 year-old actress who (in an attempt to escape from the pressures of generations of family acting talent) magically finds herself in the Italy of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, and has an opportunity to save Juliet and change the ending. The story comes complete with a Justin Beiber type teen male heart-throb who gets what’s coming to him but doesn’t turn out to be so bad in the end. I loved how the main character just introduced herself as “Mimi of Manhattan,” a distant cousin of the Capulets, and everyone accepted it.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (2013)

I believe this novel is part of the genre known as “steampunk” – science fiction set in an alternate 19th century world. In this alternative Victorian era werewolves and vampires are real. The main character, a 14 year-old girl who is a little too free spirited for the 19th century, is sent to a boarding school/finishing school that vaguely resembles Hogwarts (Harry’s Potter’s school). It is entirely housed in a huge air balloon that floats randomly across the moor. They don’t teach magic though – just spying, espionage, and assassination. It’s very funny, especially the way the author interprets finishing school skills like curtsies, fashionable dress, fans, handkerchiefs and so on, in light of their usefulness in intelligence work.

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Filed under Fantasy, Historical fiction

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