A New Genre in Historical Fiction

currently playing on my iPod: Waiting In Vain by Annie Lennox

As I sat down with my dinner of fried eggs, toast, and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, I was struck again by that nagging feeling–that my favorite books could live together in some new genre. You see the problem is that I adore history and culture, a down-to-earth voice, and a nice dose of the paranormal. Beautiful Creatures fits the bill. So does Outlander. Those Charlaine Harris books. Phillipa Gregory’s The White Queen. And, yes make fun if you want, Twilight.  

Beautiful Creatures includes flashes into the Civil War. Outlander involves travelling back in time to 18th c Scotland and more. The White Queen covers the reign of Elizabeth Woodville. Charlaine Harris’ Dead books are a study on the culture of today’s deep south and they also include pleasant bits of history through vampires. Stephanie Meyer does this as well. A vamp from the Civil War. One from the Roaring Twenties. Another is/was a viking. So amidst the fiction, the magic, the uneveryday, good helpings of history and interesting cultural oddities are laid out for readers to enjoy.

The voices in these books are also similar. The prots don’t shy from honest commentary. They joke and make mistakes and get snarky. Not as much with PG’s White Queen as that is more straight historical fiction than the others. That’s probably why I didn’t care for it as much as I did the other books I’ve mentioned.

Most would now call these books Historical Fantasy. I shudder at that because I don’t even like Fantasy. It’s just too out there for my taste. Or perhaps I do like fantasy but the overthetop covers on the books scare me off. Now Beautiful Creatures and Twilight are YA which is fine but really many women read these books and it would be nice to fetch them from another area of the bookstore. In my imagination all of the above books (and so many more) sit proudly side by side on a solid wooden shelf. They all have new visually dynamic covers like the ones in the YA section. They each have those pages that look old and possess a secret insert with some fantastic little something like a bookmark or a sketch or the author’s signature. That imaginary shelf could be labled Paranormal Historicals. Or perhaps just Fiction. With the genre crossing going on, we might should just plop it all in a big lump and find a new way of finding what we want to buy. And that, my friends, leads us into an entirely new subject on which I am too tired now to write.

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