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10 Historical YA Novels Set Around the World: A Booklist by Kat Dunn

15th January 2021

10 Historical YA Novels Set Around the World: A Booklist by Kat Dunn

10 Historical YA Novels Set Around the WorldBone Talk by Candy Gourlay – The Philippines

Set in the Philippines in 1899 as they go to war with the US, Gourlay brings to life her steamy, tropical home and the world of the Bontoc people at the crux of seismic, violent change.


The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – England

Set in Victorian England against the backdrop of Darwin’s paradigm-shifting work on evolution, the mysterious death of Faith’s father leads to a horrifying discovery. The world of the story comes alive in the vivid wildness of nature, to the detailed archaeological digs, and the suffocating atmosphere of 19th century society.

Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Paris

Paris, 1889, and the Exposition Universelle displays the industry and power of a nation. But beneath the surface, ancient secrets are coming to light. Only an unlikely band of adventurers can navigate the dark, glittering heart of the city – and change the course of history.

The Silence of Bones by June Hur – Joseon (Korea)

In 1800 Joseon (Korea), Seol is investigating the politically charged murder of a noblewoman. Described by the author as a ‘love letter to Korean history’, a murder mystery unfolds against a backdrop of misty mountains and hazy cities, paddy fields and oceans, exquisite palaces and grizzly crime.

10 Historical YA Novels Set Around the WorldThe Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – Romania

Lyrical and luscious, The Deathless Girls tells the story of the brides of Dracula before the start of Bram Stoker’s famous novel. Set in a Romania of myth and legend, this is a story of darkness and light, love and horror, and two sisters bound together.

Sawbones by Catherine Johnson – London

From grizzly operating theatres to dark, damp vaults of Newgate Prison, Sawbones brings the dangerous, thrilling world of Georgian London to macabre life, with a strong dose of body-switching, grave robbing and murder to keep you hooked to the last page.

10 Historical YA Novels Set Around the WorldDread Nation by Justina Ireland – USA

Fast-paced, incisive and powerful, Dread Nation transports readers to an alternative USA during the Reconstruction era where zombies have risen from the battlefields of Gettysburg. Ireland takes historical detail and translates it expertly into the fantastical, to have complex, nuanced conversations about the legacy of slavery underpinning all of US society.

All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle – Ireland

A curse sends Deena digging through her family’s history, and unravels an unflinching story of womanhood in Ireland through the twentieth century. Equal parts moving, enraging and raw.


The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf – Kuala Lumpur

Set during the historic race riots of 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The Weight of Our Sky tells the story of music-loving teen Melati’s quest to reunite with her mother when all lines of communication are down, a 24 hour curfew is in place and her city is in flames.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – Shanghai

An astonishingly brilliant Romeo and Juliet retelling set in glittering 1920s Shanghai, Gong transports us to a world of blood-feuds and high society, weaving murder, mystery and monsters with a brutal takedown of colonialism.



10 Historical YA Novels Set Around the WorldKat Dunn grew up in London and has lived in Japan, Australia and France. She’s written about mental health for Mind and the Guardian, and worked as a translator for Japanese television. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. She lives in London.

Kat is the author of Dangerous Remedy (Zephyr 2020) and Monstrous Design (Zephyr 2021), historical adventures set in the extravagant and deadly world of the French Revolution.

Find out more about Kat via her website here, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @KatAliceDunn.


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