9 Historical Romantasy Books

Julia is a professional nerd who can be spotted in the wild lounging with books in the park in Brooklyn, NY. She has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago and an MA in Media Studies from Pratt Institute. She loves fandom, theater, cheese, and Edith Piaf. Find her at juliarittenberg.com.

Flatiron Books, publisher of The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo9781250884251.jpg OPT9781250884251.jpg OPT

Set in the Spanish Golden Age, during a time of high‑stakes political intrigue and glittering wealth, The Familiar follows Luzia, a servant in the household of an impoverished Spanish nobleman who reveals a talent for little miracles. Her social‑climbing mistress demands Luzia use her gifts to win over Madrid’s most powerful players but what begins as simple amusement takes a dangerous turn. Luzia will need to use every bit of her wit and will to survive—even the help of Guillén Santángel, an immortal familiar whose own secrets could prove deadly for them both. The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo is on sale now.

In the grand tradition of crowning one book trend as the new book trend to rule all book trends, romantasy has taken over. Romantasy has exploded in popularity thanks to the sweeping dominance of novels that blend fantastical elements with romance stories on TikTok. Whether you love or hate these novels, you’re adding to a conversation that is getting bigger and bigger. Although it’s seen as very new and different, romance novels have always played with genre, telling love stories through as many settings as writers can imagine. However, now romantasy is essentially its own brand, and it’s spawning its own subgenres. A rapidly growing subgenre, for instance, is historical romantasy.

Historical romance is common, but historical fantasy can almost sound like an oxymoron. Mixing history and fantasy is still common, though: many writers take a historical setting and add a few fantasy elements. It doesn’t have to be an entirely invented fantasy world, but it often adds to and remixes history. Historical romantasy can be a tough balancing act, but the authors who write it are clearly adept at weaving together multiple plot lines. You could argue one of the most enduring examples of historical romantasy is Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, depending on your thoughts on that novel as a romance.

This blend of genres doesn’t have a definitive top yet — the recent iteration of historical romantasy is still growing. This means there are a lot of types of books that can fall into the genre blend: there’s no historical period that writers are expected to use for their romance and fantasy.

Young Adult Historical Romantasy

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A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal

Arthie Casimir has a great set up: her fancy tearoom services high-class customers by day, and is a vampire-filled blood house by night. In this world, vampires live alongside humans with their own society and criminal underbelly. When Arthie’s tearoom gets caught up in danger, she recruits a band of misfits to pull a heist: her adoptive brother Jin, Felicity, Matteo, and Laith. The characters are all bonded as friends, and have their own romantic feelings as well. It’s a book with a lot of moving parts, perfect for genre-blend fans.

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The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee Baker

During the Tang Dynasty, Zilan studies and practices alchemy illegally in her small town in China to support her family. She gets paid to resurrect the dead. When she gets a chance to take imperial exams, she travels to the capital and unfortunately finds that her reputation proceeds her. Li Hong, the crown prince, worries he’s going to be killed and enlists Zilan’s help. The two get caught up in various political machinations while they get closer.

Adult Historical Romantasy

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A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

Though this is the third book in the Last Binding trilogy, and I wholeheartedly recommend the preceding two as well, Marske’s final installment is a wonderful end to her fantastical romance series. After the first two books set up the stakes of the conflict in magical England, the merry band of queer lovers and friends are working to find the knife, the final part of the Last Contract. The perspective characters of the book, Alan Ross and Jack Alston (Lord Hawthorn), are working against the corrupt magical government, but they’re on opposite sides of a class war that complicates Alan’s relationship to his own desire for Jack. The final standoff at Jack’s ancestral home is a truly harrowing magical battle that brings together everyone and everything from the trilogy.

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Spellbound by Allie Therin

The first in the Magic in Manhattan series, we’re introduced to a version of New York in 1925 where magical items are smuggled in a way similar to the alcohol that was banned during Prohibition. Rory works as an appraiser in an antique shop, and he has the ability to see the history of an object with one touch. Arthur Kenzie is on the lookout for a magical amulet that can control the tides before it gets into the wrong hands and causes catastrophic damage. As Rory and Arthur butt heads, their fates become intertwined and they have to work together against the nefarious actors around them.

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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

In Mexico during the Jazz Age, Casiopea Tun is stuck in her small town with her terrible family and desperate for a way out. When she opens a box in her grandfather’s room, she releases the God of the Mayan Underworld, Hun-Kame. He was overthrown by his brother, who hid parts of his body around the country to prevent him from becoming whole and reaching his full power. Casiopea jumps at the chance to travel with Hun-Kame and restore him to power, so they embark on a journey across Mexico.

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The Sleeping Soldier by Aster Glenn Gray

Due to a fairy’s curse, a soldier falls asleep during the Civil War and wakes up in 1965. Russell Krause has to make his way through an extremely confusing world, full of unrecognizable technology and confusing social dynamics. He was a Union soldier, and thankfully his side won, but the thing he can’t get over is how tetchy people’s attitudes are about men who love each other. He strikes up a friendship with Caleb, who helps Russell get up to speed with what the world has turned into. As the two grow closer, Caleb has to deal with his own internalized homophobia while Russell deals with the grief of waking up without everyone he’s ever known.

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Breeze Spells and Bridegrooms by Sarah Wallace and S.O. Callahan

Set in Regency England, this version of history includes fae and magic alongside London’s unforgiving class structure. Roger Barnes wants to solve the poverty crisis for lower-magic humans in England, but unfortunately, the Council sticks him with an old fae rival, Wyndham Wrenwhistle. They have to work out their differences and deal with being accidentally engaged, all while trying to solve inequality in magical England.

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A Market of Dreams and Destiny by Trip Galey

The Untermarkt exists right below Covent Garden in Victorian London, and it’s a place where you can bargain for anything, even extra time. Deri has existed in the Market, owned by one of the merchants, for years, but he’s finally seen a way out. Through a bargain with a runaway princess, he gets caught up in the ripple effects of her royal destiny. At the same time as he’s negotiating his way out of tight spots, he’s met and fallen for Owain, who is also dealing with nefarious actors in the market.

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Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

In England in the nineteenth century, Zacharias Wythe is the adopted, now free / formerly enslaved person who assists the Sorcerer to the Crown. Even though he disdains the way the English treat him, Zacharias has to find out why England’s magic seems to be draining away. Prunella is another disenfranchised person, working at a ladies’ finishing school that Zacharias visits. He discovers there that she is a magician, which women in England are not supposed to be.

Blending more genres

Even though the blend of historical fiction and romantasy is already three genres, many of these books include multiple other genre tropes and plotlines. Adventure, mystery, and friendship enhance all these books and keep you guessing.

If you’re looking for more romance blended with other genres, you can dive into TikTok-favorite romantasy, dark romantasy, paranormal romances, and mystery romance novels.     

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