Are you ready to explore the past with some of the Best Christian Historical Fiction Authors around? That’s one of my favorite ways to learn about the past, to experience it alongside fictionalized men and women.
I’m all for reading biographies and true historical books. Because if we don’t learn from the past, we’re doomed to repeat it. But let’s face facts. Sometimes facts are boring. But to step inside the past along with characters dealing with real life situations, not only does history come alive, but solving some present day dillemas gets a little easier!
When you find a few Christian historical fiction authors who know how to do their research, and have a good team of beta readers and editors, the past really comes alive!!
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Favorite Christian Historical Fiction Authors
Let’s get to know a few of the best Christian historical fiction authors I’ve ever read.
Lynn Austin is known for some pretty amazing Biblical fiction, but she can also write solid WWII era stories, has some post-civil war times, contemporary, and I just picked up one called Where We Belong, that’s set in the late 1800s in Chicago and the Sinai Desert. I’m excited, about diving into this one. She’s not afraid to tackle many different time periods, and she does well with them all. Lynn Austin books have been a long-time favorite for me!
Find Where We Belong, and other Lynn Austin books here:
Lisa T Bergen
Lisa Tawn Bergen is good with history and historical fiction in particular. Whether we’re talking the 1800s in California or long before that in Italy, she can take a modern teenager and drop her right in the middle of the drama, and let all of us see the growth and challenges of life in fresh new ways! Check out these Time Travel stories here.
Bergen’s books also cover times and topics from Norwegian immigrants to English settlers in the Carribean in the late 1700s, to the 1880s in the American southwest, somehow, she draws you in and you feel like you’re right there in the thick of things.
Find her American Southwest Christian historical fiction trilogy here:
I’ve just been introduced to Elizabeth Camden and her Hope and Glory trilogy. Set in the McKinley era of Washington DC, not knowing who you could trust. At the beginning of ‘prepackaged, heat and eat’ foods, the struggle of purity vs convenience, cost vs transparency.
Here we find 3 pretty wonderful siblings and I couldn’t put the book down, because there’s just enough suspense and intrigue to hook you. And while each story does stand well on it’s own, the beauty is in the collective story.
Find Book 1, The Spice King, here:
Mary Connealy writes hilarious yet thought-provoking stories. Classified as ‘romantic comedy with cowboys’ Brides of Hope Mountain series is my favorite series of hers. 3 girls who’ve lived alone, high up the mountain since they were small children, and now all of a sudden they have to deal with ‘invaders’ and their strange actions and beliefs.
Next on my TBR from Mary Connealy is the Lassoed in Texas trilogy:
Gilbert Morris is well known for his historical romance books, and for good reason. He writes a lot of sagas, like the House of Winslow that covers many generations from 1620-1940s in at least 40 books. My mom read at least a dozen with my brother and I as kids, when we were studying American History. I’m guessing I was 8 or 9, and my brother was probably 13. While I’m sure we didn’t understand everything, it was still a lot of fun, and a great memory.
Another of his well-known series would be the Appomattox Saga, set from 1840-1865, which serves as a total immersion into the War Between the States. I picked up the entire series on Kindle a few years ago when there was a great sale, but haven’t read them yet.
Another favorite author is Janette Oke who sucks you right into the past and you KNOW what life was like, without an overwhelm of descriptions.
In fact, her ‘Love Comes Softly’ series has been described as a great how to be a wife and homemaker guide, and is an excellent series for new believers to discover more about Christian living.
And the Women of the West series does a great job of making you feel like these amazing women are your friends! For example, Emily Evans feels called to full time ministry, but when God doesn’t translate that as she expects, with repeated disappointments, her faith must stretch and strengthen, or else…
Michael Phillips & Judith Pella
When Michael Phillips and Judith Pella team up, Stonewycke is the result. This ‘double trilogy’ or 6 book series is unforgettable. This was my first venture to Scotland, and I loved every minute of it as a teen, and just talking about it makes me want to put my TBR on hold to dig it back out and dive in again. There’s mystery and drama, the gospel, family dynamics that no one would envy, and generations of story, so you get to experience the long term effects of decisions and choices made in the early days. 1860-1970s.
The Orphan Train West series by Jane Peart was one of my very first ‘grownup’ historical reads, though I did read it in my early teens. It’s a powerful storyline that I cannot imagine living through, though so well written! 3 young girls, best friends, plot a way to be adopted in the same town along the orphan train route, and we get to follow all three girls lives, and troubles, and faith.
She’s also well known for her Brides of Montclair series, another generational family saga, as told by the brides who marry in through several hundred years, 15 books in this series. Brings back happy memories just thinking about these books. The spunk, the misunderstandings, faith, family…
Redeeming Love has been a classic almost since it was written. It’s an American Western retelling of the book of Hosea, and while the beginning can be very triggering, and there’s a lot of hard things in the story, the beauty of God’s story retold in this setting is absolutely amazing!
I’ve been hearing about the Mark of the Lion series for years. Finally had a chance to read it. This series is set in Rome, in the first century, and is very powerful. It follows a captured/sold Jewish girl, her faith, and its impact and influence on those around her. Early church history come to life! The depictions of the Roman empire and culture are uncomfortable, and also eerily similar to some modern cultural issues. If you’re sensitive to that, then avoid. But overall, I found it fascinating and encouraging to my faith efforts.
Sarah Sundin’s works center mostly around World War II. She does an incredible job with both the men and women she writes. The characters are real, relatable, flawed and funny. And each of them grows, encouraging the rest of us to grow as well. Have you seen her Twitter feed? It’s full of WWII facts, uncovered as she researches her time period.
One of the first series I read of hers was Wings of Glory. This trilogy follows 3 brothers in WWII, beginning with A Distant Melody:
Many of these great books are also available on Kindle Unlimited, an ebook library program through Amazon.
I’ve only just been introduced to Carrie Turansky, and I have to say her skill is remarkable! Her exploration of the British home children, orphans sent from England to Canada, and their mixed reception was very enlightening. And the story was well mixed with heartbreaking suspense, humor, and hope. Especially since the McAlister children were not orphans, and not supposed to be shipped overseas!
Lori Wick is such a versatile novelist that you’ll find her wandering through the centuries, and across the globe. Some of my top Lori Wick picks are:
1840s-1850s: Lori Wick’s Kensington Chronicles, where we get to sail on the high seas from England to Arabia and beyond, meet royalty, deal with betrayal and family dynamics that run to extremes of unhealthy and healthy. We also get to reminisce in book 4, back to meet the 1530s family members- who are pretty awesome individuals.
She also has a number of well-written books set in the American west, and a few closer to present times.
22 Best Historical Christian Fiction Books: A Timeline
Some of these books have stuck with me for decades, and others are new favorites, and I’m happy to share them with you. We already know I can go on for thousands of words about Christian books, especially Christian fiction. So I’m going to try a new interactive table feature, and see what you all think of it.
Now we’ve already covered some of the best Biblical fiction authors, so let’s just jump into more recent time periods-with one noteworthy exception.
I recently stumbled across this post on historical fiction for kids (4th to 6th grade specifically) and thought it was pretty neat. It’s not specifically Christian, but I’m familiar with many of the books listed, and heard Christian recommendations on some of the others, so I think you’ll find something good to share with the kids here!
Early Church History
If you want a long list of favorite historical novels set in the early church period, I’ve got you covered. But There was one that really needed to be here too:
Amora by Grant Hallstrom: This is a very intense story and seems to be very well researched. Based on Roman culture and early church history, I was intrigued learning about some unusual doctrinal beliefs and seeing human nature and Christian choices played out against this historical background was very impressive.
This story has one of the best explanations of forgiveness and salvation that I’ve ever read, and it’s going to stick with me for a long time. The end-notes do an excellent job of untangling fact from fiction and helping you understand some things that may be puzzling during the story.
I received a copy of this book from the author and chose to review it here. All thoughts are my own.
Middle Ages/Medieval Fiction
The Lost Princesses series sounds pretty fascinating, following a somewhat familiar pattern of a last minute escape by a dashing military leader, successfully hiding the heirs until they’re old enough to lead their people and retake their kingdom. I’ve heard many good things about Jody Hedlund, and that her stories are safe for middle school on up.
Vikings of the New World Saga by Heather Day Gilbert. I’ve read her Contemporary cozy mysteries, and can’t wait to get ahold of this series, centered around Erik the Red’s daughter and daughter-in-law, and the beginnings of Viking Christianity and travels to the New World of North America.
Here is a ‘what if we could change history’ where the last prince of Wales isn’t murdered, and everything changes. Especially since his son was raised in the 21st century until he was 14. Think of all the ways equal rights and being a blessing to the Jewish people can change and challenge a nation over 800 years ago!
It’s the After Cilmeri series by Sarah Woodbury, and it neatly fits one of my favorite types of fiction, Christian time travel. The perspective of history from a modern-day person ‘on-site’ is so cool, this is one of very few that I’ve purchased both ebooks and hardcopies!
Also, many of the Christian fairy tale retellings are set in this time period, and are fascinating!
1700s-1800s Christian Historical Fiction
The Song of Acadia Series by Janette Oke is an incredible series, for older teens and adults. Experiencing the time leading up to and including the American Revolution from an atypical point of view is powerful. I will warn you, there will probably be tears, but they are well worth it!
An unlikely friendship, identity crises, and being in Canada, Louisiana, England, and Massachusetts create such a rich background for an unforgettable story! It’s not about the American Revolution but is highly affected by it. The theme of losing and finding one’s identity is great, and you find yourself rooting for the characters as they try to do the right thing.
Lisa T Bergen’s Sugar Baron’s Daughters Trilogy is on my TBR. Set in the time of the Revolution, but not in America. It’s mostly in the Caribbean or West Indies. The challenges of starting a new life here, and developing their talents and passions sounds exciting to me.
We’ll include some specific American Revolution stories in the upcoming “war stories” post. Please leave comments below on any favorites!
Ribbons of Steel by Tracie Peterson and Judith Pella is wonderful, if the early railroad has always fascinated you. Carolina is quite the heroine, a woman who doesn’t exactly fall in line with the traditional role expected of a Virginia plantation owner’s younger daughter. Doing what’s expected can be highly overrated, right?
Lauraine Snelling’s Secret Refuge Trilogy will keep all the horse-lovers happy! Jesselynn’s determined to get the family’s thoroughbred horses to safety, far from the Civil War. Her Sister Louisa is equally determined to help by smuggling medical supplies.
The Trouble with Nancy (Pony Express) by Chautona Havig: Nancy was willing to do something well out of her comfort zone because she knew the importance of family. Her family needed help, and she was not going to sit back and do nothing. As Nancy learned more about trusting God, so did I. That’s the best part of this author’s work. It always points to God. (Without being preachy at all)
The Dragonfly Trilogy. I’ve read book one, The Year of the Barbarian, and WOW! Can’t wait to get into the next book. It is the start of the opening up of Japan, as told by the daughter of a samauri who doesn’t fit the mold, and an American merchant seeking to ‘break in’ to the Japanese marketplace. An unfamiliar setting to me, and really fascinating. Sumi, the Samauri’s daughter is interested in meeting foreigners, and incredibly curious why anything related to Christianity should be banned and punished to such extremes.
The Dakota Treasures series by Lauraine Snelling is a challenging story of an unlikely inheritance transformed into something better. When Ruby inherits her father’s saloon and ‘dove house’ unexpectedly, she decides to transform it into a hotel and restaurant. Facing much resistance for her attempts to civilize the community, the challenges and tests of faith are real. And the best part? The romance takes a believable pace. It’s not wrapped up in one book.
1900s Historical Christian Fiction
Starting off the century with the Mayor’s Daughter solving mysteries, Meddlin’ Madeline will challenge your ideas of ‘proper’ behavior, what it looks like to love and seek God, and exactly how far one can go to prove a hunch! She’ll keep you laughing and make you think. Teens and adults will enjoy Madeline’s adventures!
Catherine Marshall’s Christy: Another timeless classic, Christy heads to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee to be a schoolteacher, and finds life different than she expected, extremely difficult, but full of meaning!
I recently read 3 books set in the 1930s, which is a time I’d not read about before, and wow!
The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow really gives a feel for the hardships and hurts of the time, as well as the common prejudices, without being disrespectful. I was very impressed, and loved this story!! Christian historical fiction at its finest!
Sorrento Girl was powerful in a whole different way, showing a young lady learning to be strong, and not let herself be trampled just because. Seeing the needs of others and getting involved while still pursuing her dreams was inspiring. And the tension of the characters being so close to WWII without knowing what was coming, was so cool!
Julie by Catherine Marshall is set in Pennsylvania in the 30s, in a small town with a steel mill, poorly treated immigrant laborers, and ‘good-old-boys’ church leadership that are horrified when the pastor sets out to serve the immigrants! As a reporter, Julie gets herself in some hot water, seeking understanding and truth. Set in a very tumultuous time, this inspirational story is definitely worth reading. Even if there’s a few slow spots…
Candle in the Straw by Clare Wyatt is the powerful story of a girl in rural China during some major tumult. She doesn’t have any control of what happens to her, and ends up pulled in various directions, and does what is placed before her to do. It’s a hard read, and sad in many places, but brings an amazing empathy, inspires faith and love and courage.
When one grasps hold of faith, they become a candle. And even when they fall, if there happens to be anything the least bit ‘flammable’ nearby, the fire spreads. I think this is a story that has been overlooked for too long, and we should all read it at least once!
A Lifetime of Obedience through the 1900s: Though None Go With Me by Jerry B Jenkins is an incredibly challenging story. One woman’s decision to live her life following Christ, no matter what the cost. And it costs her plenty. It may be unlikely for one woman to encounter this many hardships in her life, but again, If you set yourself up as an obedient follower of Jesus Christ, then you paint a target on your back, because the battle is real, and the enemy doesn’t like faithful followers.
We’ll be talking about some of the most amazing Christian war novels shortly, so I won’t spend much time on the 1940s, other than to suggest that you can’t go wrong with Sarah Sundin’s books!!!
Don’t forget to try Kindle Unlimited for Free.
Last Half of the 1900s
This time period of recent history feels more familiar, but also impresses on me just how much things have changed, technology-wise in the last 30 years!
The Amethyst Heart by Penelope J Stokes: Amethyst is 93, and her son’s ready to sell her house out from under her and put her in a home. Little Am (reluctantly at first) gets to learn 150 years of family history, from the Civil War to the early days of the civil rights movements, to ‘present day 2000’ and the real meaning of family.
The Blue Bottle Club also by Penelope J Stokes is about a group of young friends in the late 1920s who wrote their dreams and placed them in a blue bottle in the attic. Discovered over 60 years later, a reporter decides to find out what happened to them. A fascinating story about how life can be rich and meaningful even when it doesn’t go according to plan!
1970s-80s doesn’t seem like it should be historical fiction, but it was over 40 years ago, so here’s my favorite book of that time period: Lori Wick’s Pretense. I used to borrow it from the library regularly, but I finally bought my own copy. These two sisters go through a lot of living, and not all of it is wholesome. But the arc of redemption, and God as the loving father we can rely on is so powerful.
Timeslip is a fun way to do historical fiction, because you get short segments of different people’s stories, usually one of them contemporary, and one historical, where you get to see a parallel storyline or theme, and how they connect.
The Lost Castle Trilogy by Kristy Cambron is a triple timeslip series, with present day, WW2, and a further back time in France, Ireland, and England. I absolutely loved this story, rich with legacy, determination and hope. My review can be found here.
Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson is another one that explores a familiar time, from an unusual angle. The time leading up to WWII, in Austria, from Jewish eyes. It’s beautifully written, and enough of a puzzle that the contemporary bookshop owner feels compelled to leave her safe home to travel all the way to Austria to solve the puzzle. My full review can be found here.
Where To Buy Affordable Christian Historical Fiction Books
- Answers In Genesis
- BibleStore (Much More Than Bibles)
Christian Historical Fiction Favorites?
Some of my favorite historical Fiction genre entries are here, though I know I’ve missed more than a few. But this post is already pretty long, so I’ll let it go for now. But I’d love to hear from you: What historical Christian fiction do you love? What’s got you so hooked you can still remember the plot years later?