Hey guys! So easily the most active post I’ve written is this one called Top Ten Books To Try If You Like Sarah J. Maas. It gets so many views that I thought maybe I needed to try doing this with other authors, too.
Libba Bray is an author I have respected since I was in 7th grade and got hooked on A Great and Terrible Beauty. As an author, she tends to write historical fiction with elements of magic/fantasy. She also finds a way to write hysterically funny pieces, like Beauty Queens. But basically, she’s writing about strong female characters who, because of their society (be it late 1800s, 1920s, or now) are oppressed and not able to fully share their (usually magical) gifts except with others like them. So that’s the idea that I focused on as I looked for books with similar writing styles/themes. If you want strong females with a taste of history and magic, you have come to the right place!
Top Ten Books To Try If You Like Libba Bray
1. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
This is set roughly in the 1890s and follows 3 magical sisters trying to hide their abilities from their town. If they can’t hide it, they’re dead. There’s a lot going on in this story, so the plot is intricate but well written. The characters are good, but I really enjoyed the plot of this one. It’s very similar to Bray’s Gemma Doyle series.
2. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
This is basically textbook Bray-style. Set in 1241 in Province, France, Dolssa is a young girl who has visions of God, something she’s desperate to keep secret. Unfortunately, a friar has discovered her and is determined to burn her as a heretic. But Dolssa is clever and she won’t be easily captured. This story was nothing short of eye-opening. It has the feel of something that might be a fairytale, but it’s pretty sound in its history of medieval France. It was a terrifying time to be alive, let me just say.
3. And I Darken by Kiersten White
I picked this one as similar to Bray’s because of the way Lada defies her “womanly” roles. This is basically the story of a female Vlad Dracul, the inspiration for Dracula. Lada, abandoned by her father and raised by the Ottoman court, is biding her time until she can return to her homeland and reclaim her land. But it’s never that simple and war does not come without a cost. The plot of this is intricate, the characters are fierce, and the history is spectacular.
4. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
If you think Bray is weird, this book totally trumps the weirdest Bray’s ever dealt out. And I’ve read Going Bovine, so I should know. The story of Lady Jane Grey, the girl who would be known as the 9-Days Queen of England. When Jane’s cousin King Edward arranges her marriage to Gifford Dudley, things don’t exactly go as planned. Gifford is a horse, after all. (Well, something more akin to a shifter, but still a horse.) But more than that, G, Jane, and Edward are pulled into a plot intended to rid England of Edward. This book is so weird, the history is…fluid, and the plot is ridiculous. But that’s what’s fun about it.
5. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
I don’t think I will ever not love this series. A new take on the old tale of Robin Hood, Scarlet is one of Robin’s band, a woman who pretends to be a man. But once her secret is out, trouble ensues. The plot is fantastic, the characters are amazing, and you will be caught off guard by some of the twists. I guarantee it. It’s brilliant storytelling. I liked how this turned a well-known story and turned it on its head.
6. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Probably one of my weirder picks for this list. Grace has been locked in an insane asylum for a long time. She knows madness. Then a visiting doctor discovers her sharp mind and keen eyes and decides she’d be a good assistant for him as he hunts a killer. This book leaves you questioning for a long time if Grace is actually crazy or not. There’s a great mystery, interesting characters and plotting, and weird/humorous things that happen. We are in a madhouse, after all.
7. A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
Set in 1814 as Europe is trying to recover from Napoleon, this follows a handful of teenage girls who don’t fit in to society. They aren’t magical…just smart or different. Their families think they’re being sent to a finishing school, when in reality these girls are being trained to be highly effective spies for England. The story is charming, with an interesting plot and characters, but also a touch of romance. It’s like a regency romance for YA, but with the added bonus of political intrigue. Don’t underestimate these girls.
8. Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney
It’s been something like 7 years since I’ve last read this, and I still think about this book fondly. It’s another set sometime in the 1800s, I believe. Tory reveals her magic to save her nephew and is sent away to be “cured” of her magic. True, I don’t really remember what happens, but I remember really liking how the magic and history were woven together and I loved the characters.
9. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
As often happens with Rae Carson, whatever story is writes is golden. (Hehe.) This story, set in 1840s America, follows Leah Westfall. She can sense gold when it’s near, a trick she uses to keep her family out of poverty, until her secret isn’t secret anymore and she needs to run. So she escapes west to follow the Gold Rush. It has strong characters, a hint of magic, great plotting, a bit of romance, and follows a bit of history that isn’t often looked at in YA.
10. His Fair Assassin by R. L. LaFevers
Another story I will never not love! In 1400s Brittany (now part of France), a group of pagan nuns at the convent of St. Mortain (the god of Death) are trained as assassins. With the political climate of Brittany at the time, their services are required to keep the child queen alive as rivals attempt to kill her and claim Brittany for themselves. It’s fantastic historically, beautifully written, and a complete chess-match as far as the plot goes. Also the characters…of all the books I read, this series gets probably most of my rereads.