Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Explore the past with historical fiction


Step into the past with a book from the library

Not everyone enjoys history, but reading about history can be both enjoyable and informative. Historical fiction novels can transport a reader into another time and place where you can discover the past while enjoying a good story at the same time.

The West Linn Public Library has plenty of historical fiction no matter what time period you’re interested in. Here are some of my favorites:

“The Heretic’s Daughter”

by Kathleen Kent

This is the story of the Salem Witch Trials told from a slightly different angle. It is about Martha Carrier, a woman from nearby Andover who was accused of being a witch. The story is narrated by Martha’s daughter, Sarah. When Martha is arrested she refuses to confess to save herself from death and soon everyone in the family finds themselves in peril. Kent’s descriptions of life in the prison — crowded with innocent and confused people — are especially poignant.

“Heartbroke Bay”

by Lynn D’Urso

In the late 1890s, gold was discovered in Alaska and the Yukon. Thousands of men rushed into the wilderness to find their fortunes. In this book, which is based on a true story, Hans Nelson, his wife, Hannah, sail to remote Lituya Bay on the Alaska coastline. The mining is hard, back-breaking work and the men don’t find as much gold as they hoped for. Hannah falls in love with one of the miners, a storm strikes and leaves the group stranded, and winter is quickly arriving. Their search for riches turns into a struggle for survival in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.

“The Secret River”

by Kate Grenville

William Thornhill is a petty thief in early 19th century London when he is banished with his family to Australia after getting caught stealing lumber. After serving out his labor sentence there and earning his freedom his buys a piece of land along the river. But the tenuous coexistence with the native aborigines descends into violence.

“Mudbound” by Hillary Jordan

This World War II-era novel tells the story of six people and how their lives come together in the deep South. Laura McAllen’s happy life is turned upside down when her husband, Henry, unexpectedly moves his wife and two daughters to a muddy farm in Mississippi. The McAllens’ story is interwoven with the stories of Henry’s black sharecroppers, Florence and Hap, and their son, Ronsel, who has recently returned from the war. Their stories all head toward an inevitable and horrifying act of racial hatred.

“Snow Mountain Passage”

by James D. Houston

Most people are familiar with the basic story of the Donner Party and how they were stranded in the mountains during the winter of 1846-47. This book tells more of the story, including the series of decisions and delays that led to the disaster as well as the tragically unlucky weather. The story also includes James Reed’s attempts to mount a rescue party to go back into the mountains and rescue the survivors.