Blog Reviews

5 Great WWII Historicals for Young Adults


World War II stories may hold a special appeal because this was a conflict that young people got swept up in — as refugees, Resistance fighters and youth soldiers — as dire circumstances forced them to behave like adults

So says Kristin Hannah, best-selling author of The Nightingale in this article in the New York Times. It gives three great examples of WWII books for young people, but here are my personal five favourites.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by AnnWare Blankman

How would it feel to be related to Hitler? For young Gretchen Muller, that’s her reality, and when she makes friends with a Jewish boy, that can only lead to trouble. Forced into choosing sides, she goes with her heart, only to find herself in deadly danger. Especially as her brother has just joined the Hitler Youth. A fast-paced, edge of your seat adventure, with a little romance for good measure.

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette GreeneWar 3

When all-American girl Patty Bergen meets a German Prisoner of war in her father’s shop she does not expect to make a new friend. Of course it is not a friend her parents would ever approve of, so it must be kept secret. Patty’s ally is her black family servant, Ruth, who is more like a parent to her than her real family. This novel is a study of racism, bigotry and growing up – all seen through the eyes of ever-curious Patty. I loved Patty’s voice in this novel, and the way her innocent eyes are gradually opened to the reality of the bigotry around her.

War Code_Name_Verity_-_Electric_Monkey_coverCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

As the name might suggest, there’s a lot about truth and lies in this book. It centres around Verity herself, a nameless WWII spy who we think is gladly betraying her country to the Gestapo in order to survive. The novel begins as a confession. But in an unexpected twist it also turns out to be as much about Maddie: her best friend, a female flyer who dropped her into occupied France. Gripping, and intellectually stimulating, this is one of my top reads.

War 4My Family for The War by Anne C Voorhoeve

Translated from the German, this is the story of Ziska who is put on the Kindertransport to come to England to escape the Nazi persecution of her family. Taken in by strangers , she has to become part of her new family, who start to become as real to her as her distant parents. Against the backdrop of war-torn London, Frances, as she is now known, struggles with questions of identity, family, and love.

War 5Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

This Newbery-award winning book is the story of a ten-year-old Danish girl who courageously helps to save the family of her Jewish friend. Lois Lowry was apparently inspired by the letter of a young Dane, who, on the eve of his execution, reminded young and old to remember; and from that remembering “to create an ideal of human decency.” Although for younger children, I found this to be a mesmerising and poignant read.

And … if you are an adult, and like me, love books set in WWII, you can get a free copy of my WWII book Past Encounters, by emailing me or signing up for my newsletter.


Stolen by Sheila Dalton


Stolen came about after two trips: one to Devon, England, and one to Morocco. The book is dedicated to my husband, who traveled with me. He died suddenly in 2012, before the book was published, but I wanted to include him somehow, because he loved the story and, without him, I would not have visited the places I did.

In Morocco, we saw the underground dungeons where Christian slaves were once kept chained to the walls, until they were brought outdoors into the blazing heat to work on the palaces and temples of Meknes. In Devon, a friend showed us the caves and coves where British pirates operated  in the 17th century.

When I discovered that the white slave trade and the Golden Age of Piracy were of the same era, I was intrigued; even more so when I read that the Barbary Corsairs made their raids along the British coast, including Devon, during that age. Soon a character – Lizbet Warren – came into my head — a young woman who loses her parents to the corsairs, who carry them off to the Moroccan slave markets.

I began to wonder what it would be like to be a sheltered young person coming face to face with cruelty both at home and at sea. Britain in the 17th century had incredibly stringent vagrancy laws that meant a homeless person or beggar could be arrested and sent overseas as an indentured servant – in effect, a slave. An indentured servant received no wages, was not free to leave, and often died because of ill treatment. As soon as Lizbet is left on her own, she is in danger of ending up disenfranchised in ‘the colonies’.

Lizbet is a complex young woman, but I suspect no more so than many of us today. She is faced with hard choices, and is troubled by them. She encounters dominant men  in her quest to help her parents, and is simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by them. She herself is kept under lock and key for a time, at the mercy of a French privateer and her own emotions.

As I was writing her story, I thought how I wanted readers to enjoy the narrative, despite its darker aspects.  To that end, I tried to concoct a plot full of suspense and adventure and triumph over adversity, as well as hard truths. I hope I have succeeded.

Stolen eBook: Sheila Dalton: Books

Sheila Dalton (@Sheladee) | Twitter

Want to contribute to Royalty Fee Fiction? mail me at authordeborahswift at gmail dot com  (Remember, historical fiction with no Kings and Queens!)

Witchrise by Victoria Lamb – Historical Fiction Highlight

I have been interested in historical fiction for teenagers and young adults for quite a few years, and love to feature it on my blog,

Today I highlight Victoria Lamb’s latest novel for Young Adults, WITCHRISE, the third in her trilogy of books about Meg Lytton the witch.

I asked Victoria on twitter about how she enjoyed writing it:

‘There’s a scary scene in WITCHRISE where Meg tells the future using a homunculus made from a mandrake root; I loved writing it! I found that scene really quite frightening to write, and got the chills afterwards. Very spooky!’

Back cover blurb: 

Meg Lytton was born with a powerful gift for magic, as her mother and aunt were before her. But practising witchcraft in Tudor England is a dangerous business – as is hiding her secret betrothal to the handsome young priest, Alejandro de Castillo. Meg is called back into the service of Princess Elizabeth, who has fallen passionately in love with Robert Dudley – a married man. When Meg cannot foretell a happy future for Elizabeth and Dudley, the furious, tempestuous princess turns on Meg. Even more perilous, Meg learns that her enemy, the cruel witchfinder Marcus Dent, has joined forces with none other than the dark and ruthless priests of the Spanish Inquisition. She is in greater danger than ever – and her future with Alejandro hangs in the balance.

Find out more on Victoria’s website.


My main character – Lady Katherine Fanshawe

This post is part of a game begun by Debra Brown and passed to me by Sue Millard who lives relatively near me in Cumbria in the North of England. The posts are designed for readers to gain an insight into what writers are working on at the moment. Because my book is part of a series and all the books aren’t finished there are some details I don’t want to reveal yet, but here is an inkling of what has been taking up my time since I finished ‘A Divided Inheritance.’

What is the name of your character?Katherine Ferrers

My main character is seventeen-year-old Lady Katherine Fanshawe. She is a real historical person but also she features in a legend about her double life as noble lady and as a notorious highwaywoman. Find out more about the real person and the legend of The Wicked Lady here

When and where is the story set?

I’ll be taking you back in time to the English Civil Wars, in the mid seventeenth century, a time so turbulent it was known as ‘the world turn’d upside down.’

What should we know about Lady Katherine Fanshawe?

She comes from an illustrious and noble family but when she loses her parents she is forced by her stepfather to marry his lacklustre nephew. This enables her stepfather, Sir Stephen Fanshawe to take control over her land and wealth. She is rebellious, and takes to a secret life of highway robbery to replace her lost fortune.

What is the main conflict she must face?

Whilst disguised as a maid she falls in love with local boy, Ralph Chaplin. Ralph is determined to build a new world in which everyone is equal, where there is no aristocracy, following the ideals of the Digger movement. Ralph hates the nobility and would be horrified to find the girl he thinks of as ‘Kate’ is really Lady Katherine Fanshawe. He would be even more horrified if he knew what she got up to at night!

What is the personal goal of this character?

Kate is courageous and craves adventure and danger, but often does not look before she leaps. She is determined to escape her controlling stepfather, to be free of society’s demands, and to love who she pleases. At the same time she is reluctant to give up the life in which her status gives her privileges and she does not want to give up ordering people about!

When will this book be published?

Actually, this is three books – a series of three novellas, which make up The Highway Trilogy. This is a set of books suitable for adults and young adults of 14+. Each book is about 200 pages. The first book is told from the point of view of Lady Katherine’s feisty maid, Abigail, the second from Ralph Chaplin’s point of view, and the third from Lady Katherine’s (Kate’s) point of view. I thought it would be fun to write some shorter books for young adults in between my bigger books.

Publication date yet to be confirmed. The working title of the first book in the series is ‘Shadow on the Highway’, the next one will be ‘Ghost on the Highway,’ and the third ‘Revenge on the Highway.’

Pictures relating to the books are on my Pinterest Site

Now I need to pass the baton on to these lovely historical fiction writers:

Charlotte Betts

Anita Seymour

Carol Cram