Historical fiction is always a popular option, children and young people love to read about history, they love to imagine what the people of the past were like, how they lived, where they lived, how they spoke and more besides. Add to this a desire to read a good story, usually with a mystery and you have the ideal book for many readers.
There are some fantastic authors of historical fiction for children of all ages and now to add a new element to the mix come two very cleverly imagined and titled historical fiction stories.
Firstly I was intrigued by Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender (Scholastic). Was Marie Antoinette a serial killer I wondered or was the author just using the name of one of France’s most notorious queens? Indeed the book is set in France, but not an old France, a modern one. Furthermore this is Paris, a city with food, fashion, boys and lurking under the surface … murder. A class trip has taken Colette Iselin to Paris and she is loving her very first visit. There is only one problem, as she travels the city she keeps having the same vision: a ghostly and pale woman in a sumptuous ball gown and a powdered wig. A woman who looks remarkably like Marie Antoinette. None of her friends will believe Colette when she tries to tell them so instead she turns to the most charming of French boys. What links the murder victims who have been recently found and the visions that Colette is having? Something has woken the ghost of the queen and she wants her revenge … how is Colette linked to this mystery and will she make it out of Paris alive?
A clever murder mystery interweaving modern romance and historical intrigue.
The second book that caught my attention and had me avidly reading is Curses and Smoke. A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter (Scholastic). I have a passionate connection to Pompeii I have to admit and I love an ancient Romans or Greek story so this one had me curious. What was this story and how would it unfold? This is the story of a young love between a medical slave and his master’s daughter. It is the story of a world on the brink of destruction and it has been released to coincide with the release of the forthcoming film Pompeii. Tages is the slave, Lucia the daughter. Tage may be a medical slave but in his heart he is a gladiator and yearns to fight in order to earn his freedom. Lucia is betrothed to a wealthy benefactor of her father’s but more than anything she loves to study the natural world around her home and endeavours to find out more about the strange behavior of the landscape. As the two friends, having known each other from childhood, reconnect as young adults, a passionate feeling of love enters their lives, they argue and are separated during which time Pompeii is struck by an earthquake. Will the inevitable eruption of the volcano – a tragedy about which we all know keep them apart and destroy their world …? A gripping and thrilling story of forbidden love and the ancient world.
Two fantastic books to get your teeth into and to reignite that love of history!