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12 Queer Historical Fiction Books You Need To Read

This month we're taking a look at queer historical fiction. From sapphic Georgian romances to gay retellings of The Great Gatsby and a neo-Victorian queer farce, here are 12 LGBTQ+ historical fiction books that everyone should read:


Infamous - Lex Croucher

Reading age: 18+


22-year-old aspiring writer Edith 'Eddie' Miller and her best friend Rose have always done everything together - climbing trees, throwing grapes at boys, sneaking bottles of wine, practicing kissing... But following their debutante ball Rose is suddenly talking about marriage, and Eddie is horrified. When Eddie meets charming, renowned poet Nash Nicholson, he invites her to his crumbling Gothic estate in the countryside. The entourage of eccentric artists indulging in pure hedonism is exactly what Eddie needs in order to forget Rose and finish her novel. But Eddie might discover the world of famous literary icons isn't all poems and pleasure. Booksmart meets Bridgerton in this sapphic historical fiction romance.


Nettleblack - Nat Reeve

Reading age: 18+


1893. Henry Nettleblack has to act fast or she'll be married off by her elder sister. But leaving the safety of her wealthy life isn't as simple as she thought.


Ambushed, robbed, and then saved by a mysterious organisation - part detective agency, part neighbourhood watch - a desperate Henry disguises herself and enlists. Sent out to investigate a string of crimes, she soon realises that she is living in a small rural town with surprisingly big problems. When the net starts to close around Henry, and sinister forces threaten to expose her as the missing Nettleblack sister, the new people in her life seem to offer her a way out, and a way forward.


Is the world she's lost in also a place she can find herself? Told through journal entries and letters, Nettleblack is a subversive and playful ride through the perils and joys of finding your place in the world, challenging myths about queerness - particularly transness - as a modern phenomenon, while exploring the practicalities of articulating queer perspectives when you're struggling for words.


Murder Under Her Skin - Stephen Spotswood

Reading age: 18+


Someone's put a blade in the back of the Amazing Tattooed Woman, and Willowjean "Will" Parker's former knife-throwing mentor has been stitched up for the crime. To uncover the truth, Will and her boss, world-famous detective Lillian Pentecost, travel south into a snakepit of old grudges, small-town crime, and secrets worth killing for. New York, 1946: The last time Will Parker let a case get personal, she walked away with a broken face, a bruised ego, and the solemn promise never again to let her heart get in the way of her job. But she called Hart and Halloway's Travelling Circus and Sideshow home for five years, and Ruby Donner, the circus's tattooed ingenue, was her friend. To make matters worse the prime suspect is Valentin Kalishenko, the man who taught Will everything she knows about putting a knife where it needs to go. To uncover the real killer and keep Kalishenko from a date with the electric chair, Will and Ms. Pentecost join the circus in sleepy Stoppard, Virginia, where the locals like their cocktails mild, the past buried, and big-city detectives not at all.


Liebestrasse - Greg Lockard

Reading age: 18+


During the final years of the Weimar Republic, Sam meets Philip in Berlin and they fall in love.


Their romance is hit with an unspeakable reality as the Nazis come to power and fascism makes them a target.


Liebestrasse is a historical fiction graphic novel that Greg co-created with artist Tim Fish for ComiXology Originals. It was nominated as an "Outstanding Comic Book" for the 2020 GLAAD Media Awards and listed by the New York Times as one of 10 Comic Books to Celebrate Pride.


Wild and Wicked Things - Francesca May

Reading age: 18+


In the aftermath of World War I, a naive woman is swept into a glittering world filled with dark magic, romance, and murder in this lush and decadent debut.


Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one.


Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbor.


Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island's extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.


Flung Out of Space - Grace Ellis & Hannah Templer

Reading age: 18+


Flung Out of Space is both a love letter to the essential lesbian novel, The Price of Salt, and an examination of its notorious author, Patricia Highsmith. Veteran comics creators Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer have teamed up to tell this story through Highsmith’s eyes—reimagining the events that inspired her to write the story that would become a foundational piece of queer literature.


Flung Out of Space opens with Pat begrudgingly writing low-brow comics. A drinker, a smoker, and a hater of life, Pat knows she can do better. Her brain churns with images of the great novel she could and should be writing—what will eventually be Strangers on a Train— which would later be adapted into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.


At the same time, Pat, a lesbian consumed with self-loathing, is in and out of conversion therapy, leaving a trail of sexual conquests and broken hearts in her wake.


A Restless Truth - Freya Marske

Reading age: 18+


Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske's beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light.


The most interesting things in Maud Blyth's life have happened to her brother Robin, but she's ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she's ready for an adventure.


What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.


Bolla - Pajtim Statovci

Reading age: 18+


April 1995. Arsim is a 24-year-old, recently married student at the University of Pristina, in Kosovo, keeping his head down to gain a university degree in a time and place deeply hostile to Albanians. In a café he meets a young man named Miloš, a Serb. Before the day is out, everything has changed for both of them, and within a week two milestones erupt in Arsim’s married life: his wife announces her first pregnancy and he begins a life in secret.


After these fevered beginnings, Arsim and Miloš’s unlikely affair is derailed by the outbreak of war, which sends Arsim’s fledgling family abroad and timid Miloš spiraling down a dark path, as depicted through chaotic journal entries. Years later, deported back to Pristina after a spell in prison and now alone and hopeless, Arsim finds himself in a broken reality that makes him completely question his past. What happened to him, to them, exactly? How much can you endure, and forgive?


A Lady for a Duke - Alexis Hall

Reading age: 18+


When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.


Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.


As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.


Self-Made Boys - Anna-Marie McLemore

Reading age: 14+


New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Minnesota, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future - and his life as a man - and benefit his family.


Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latina heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.


Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all for the benefit of impressing a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.


A Taste of Gold and Iron - Alexandra Rowland

Reading age: 18+


Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court - the body - father of the queen's new child - in an altercation which results in his humiliation.


To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.


A Million to One - Adiba Jaigirdar

Reading age: 13+


Adiba Jaigirdar gives Titanic an Ocean’s 8 makeover in a heist for a treasure aboard the infamous ship that sank in the Atlantic many years ago.


A thief. An artist. An acrobat. An actress. While Josefa, Emilie, Hinnah, and Violet seemingly don’t have anything in common, they’re united in one goal: stealing the Rubaiyat, a jewel-encrusted book aboard the RMS Titanic that just might be the golden ticket to solving their problems.


But careless mistakes, old grudges, and new romance threaten to jeopardize everything they’ve worked for and put them in incredible danger when tragedy strikes. While the odds of pulling off the heist are slim, the odds of survival are even slimmer...




Have we missed your favourite queer historical fiction book? Send us a message on twitter @ProudGeekStore or email us at contact@proud-geek.co.uk

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