Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Top 5 Tuesday: Top Books Set in the Past


It's been a minute since I've posted once of these, but today I've finally been able to participate again in Top 5 Tuesday, originally hosted by BionicBookworm, now hosted by MeeghanReads!

This week's theme is: Books Set in the Past

It's been a good while since I've joined up with a Top 5 Tuesday so I'm happy to be back participating again! Today's theme is books set int he past, and I was almost going to just change it to historical fiction for ease, but then I realized that there were a few picks I wanted to include that would technically be in the speculative fiction moreso than historical fiction.. so books set in the past really works well, after all. :) I love books set in the past so this was a hard list to narrow down (and, admittedly, I've included seven books instead of five...), but here are some books set int he past that I absolutely love and would recommend wholeheartedly. 

The Crimson Petal and the WhiteThe Wolf Den (Wolf Den Trilogy, #1)The Wolf in the Whale

1. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber - Easily one of my favorite historical fiction books, this feels truly epic in terms of character development, themes, everything.Review
From Goodreads: "...Twenty years in its conception, research, and writing, The Crimson Petal and the White is teeming with life, rich in texture and incident, with breathtakingly real characters.
Sugar, 19, prostitute in Victorian London, yearns for a better life. From brutal brothel-keeper Mrs Castaway, she ascends in society. Affections of self-involved perfume magnate William Rackham soon smells like love. Her social rise attracts preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all kinds."

2. The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper - This is also a favorite historical fiction book and I love how much research was put into creating an authentic ancient setting. Amara is an incredible character to follow. I can't recommend this book enough–and there's a sequel! - Review
From Goodreads: "Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii's brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den... 
Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father's death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii's infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.
Set in Pompeii's lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked."

3. The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky - From my review for this book: "I had no idea that I was opening up a book that would become one of my new all-time favorites that I am sure to re-read many, many times in the future. I have almost never finished a book and immediately wanted to flip back to the beginning and start reading it again, but I absolutely had that desire for this book. My heart was broken so many times in this book that I lost count, and I have to say that I loved every minute of it." - Review
From Goodreads: "'There is a very old story, rarely told, of a wolf that runs into the ocean and becomes a whale.'
A sweeping tale of clashing cultures, warring gods, and forbidden love: In 1000 AD, a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies as war breaks out between their peoples and their gods-one that will determine the fate of them all."

The TerrorThe Illumination of Ursula Flight

4. The Terror by Dan Simmons - This was a riveting storing based on a true life story that ended in distaster... with a bit of a supernatural twist because, you know, things weren't scary enough already! - Review
From Goodreads: "The men on board the HMS Terror — part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage — are entering a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, they struggle to survive with poisonous rations, a dwindling coal supply, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is even more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror clawing to get in."

5. The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst - From my review: "...easily one of the most delightful and charming books I've read all year. It's engaging, unique, distinct in its voice, a little bawdy, and incredibly meaningful. This physical book is also unbelievably gorgeous and whoever designed this beauty deserves a raise." - Review
From Goodreads: "Born on the night of an ill-auguring comet just before Charles II's Restoration, Ursula Flight has a difficult future written in the stars. 
Against the custom of the age she begins an education with her father, who fosters in her a love of reading, writing and astrology. 
Following a surprise meeting with an actress, Ursula yearns for the theatre and thus begins her quest to become a playwright despite scoundrels, bounders, bad luck and heartbreak."

DreamlandThe Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)

6. Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau - I fell hard for this story and particularly for the main character who such a delight to follow. This book captivated me immediately and is a fanastic historical fiction pick. - Review
From Goodreads: "The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family. 
But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of. Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder."

7. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - I read this so long ago that I honestly am ashamed of how much I don't remember, but that just means I'm due for a re-read. I loved this book so much when I read it, and that's really what stays with me. 
From Goodreads: "Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love."

Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favorite books set in the past?


  1. I loved The Crimson Petal and the White and have reread it quite a few times!

  2. I haven't read any of these. Some of my favorite books set in the past are ones that also incorporate the present, like Chanel Cleeton's or Karen White's.

    1. I love books that do that! Karen White is so good at those ones.

  3. These all look like such good reads. I’ll have to check them out.

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-unlikable-characters-you-cant-help-but-love/

  4. I've read The Terror and The Crimson Petal and the White and loved both!

  5. I love books set in the past, although I'm more about straight-up historical fiction than speculative. Still, I think I enjoy stories set in the past more than those set in the present for some reason :)

    Happy TTT (on a Wednesday)!

  6. I still haven't read The Crimson Petal and the White. I feel like a bad historical fiction fan. I do have The Terror sitting on my TBR shelf, so I'll read that one eventually!