Spring is in the air and it’s got me in the mood for some light, but never fluffy, romantic fantasies. This past week, I read three alternate histories that had romance and magic in abundance. What books would you suggest for a great alternate history with a gripping love story?
Without A Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
Husband and wife glamourists Jane and Vincent become enmeshed in a violent class struggle in London during a year of unseasonably cold weather. Complicating matters further is Jane’s younger sister, Melody, who tags along due to the lack of suitable bachelors near her family’s country estate. It’s a smart, witty and often thrilling romance that is elegant without being pompous, luscious without being stiff. Kowal covers some heavy topics in a seemingly simple tale of a young woman finding love, but she does it all in a subtle manner that allows her characters to truly come alive, faults and all. This is the third in Kowal’s Glamorist Histories series and it is the best yet.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
The men of Rollrock Island would give anything to have a wife from the selkie witch Misskaella who turns seals in to beautiful and subservient women. But through a series of alternating storylines that span two generations the town folk learn that though the titular brides may look human, they are truly something else entirely. A book of spellbinding beauty that draws power from the dashed romances and peculiar love of its characters. While Lanagan excels at creating haunting atmospheres this book is warm and lovely even as the characters make one poor decision after another.
Queen of Dragons by Shana Abe
A group of human/dragon shapeshifters in a remote area of England called Darkfirth are threatened by another group of shapeshifters from the Carpatian Mountains. But passions are ignited in more way than one as the leaders of the two clans–Princess Maricara and the Transylvanian warrior Kimber–try to bridge the differences between their people.