The Top Historical Fiction Novels of the Last Decade

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Historical fiction novels have the unique ability to transport readers to different eras and allow them to explore the past in a captivating and immersive way. Over the last decade, there have been numerous outstanding historical fiction novels that have enthralled readers with their compelling narratives, richly developed characters, and meticulous attention to historical detail. In this article, we will delve into the top historical fiction novels of the last decade, taking you on a journey through time and showcasing the best of the genre.

1. “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” is a mesmerizing tale set during World War II, following the lives of a blind French girl and a young German soldier. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel seamlessly weaves together their stories, exploring themes of love, resilience, and the power of human connection amidst the chaos of war.

2. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief” is a poignant and unique novel that unfolds in Nazi Germany during World War II. Narrated by Death, it follows the life of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who discovers solace and courage through books amidst the horrors of the war. This beautifully written story captures the essence of human strength and the transformative power of words.

3. “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” takes readers back to the tumultuous times of Henry VIII’s reign in 16th-century England. Through the meticulous research and masterful storytelling, Mantel brings to life the political intrigue, power struggles, and religious upheaval of the Tudor era. This novel, along with its sequel “Bring Up the Bodies,” earned Mantel two Man Booker Prizes, solidifying its place as a modern classic in historical fiction.

4. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” offers a unique and imaginative take on the history of slavery in America. In this novel, the underground railroad is reimagined as a physical railway system, taking the protagonist, Cora, on a dangerous journey through different states in search of freedom. Whitehead’s powerful storytelling sheds light on the harsh realities of slavery and the indomitable spirit of those who fought for their freedom.

5. “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett

Set in 12th-century England, Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” is a sweeping epic that explores the construction of a cathedral and the lives of those involved. This meticulously researched novel delves into the political, social, and religious dynamics of the time, immersing readers in a world of ambition, power, and intrigue.

6. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale” is a gripping tale of two sisters in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. This emotionally charged novel highlights the strength and resilience of women during wartime, showcasing their bravery and sacrifices. Through its vivid portrayal of the horrors of war and the strength of the human spirit, “The Nightingale” captivates readers from beginning to end.

7. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” is set in 1960s Mississippi and provides a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of racial tensions and civil rights. Through the voices of three women, the novel examines the deep-seated racism and inequality prevalent in the South during that era. Stockett’s powerful storytelling sheds light on the importance of empathy, understanding, and standing up against injustice.

These seven historical fiction novels represent the pinnacle of the genre in the last decade. Each of these works offers a unique perspective on different historical periods, transporting readers to diverse worlds and engaging them with compelling narratives. Whether it’s the harrowing backdrop of World War II, the political intrigues of the Tudor era, or the struggles of racial inequality, these novels captivate, educate, and inspire readers with their masterful storytelling. So, if you’re looking to embark on a journey through time, these top historical fiction novels of the last decade are a must-read.


1. What is the setting of Anthony Doerr’s novel “All the Light We Cannot See”?

The novel is set during World War II.

2. Who narrates Markus Zusak’s novel “The Book Thief”?

The novel is narrated by Death.

3. Which historical era does Hilary Mantel’s novel “Wolf Hall” depict?

The novel depicts the tumultuous times of Henry VIII’s reign in 16th-century England.

4. How is the underground railroad portrayed in Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Underground Railroad”?

In the novel, the underground railroad is reimagined as a physical railway system.

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