Star Path: People of Cahokia by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal GearStarring: Morning Star, god incarnate, and his mortal sister Night Shadow Star, who must defeat their evil brother Walking Smoke.
Why you might like it: Written by a pair of archaeologists, this dramatic novel of pre-Columbian North America recreates the Cahokia settlement (1100 CE) and Mississippian culture in vivid detail.
Should you start here? This 4th book in the Morning Star series follows plotlines established in previous books; newcomers should start with People of the Morning Star.
Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry by Richard KirshenbaumWhat it is: an engaging rags-to-riches story of competing cosmetics empires and their feuding founders.
Inspired by: the real-life rivalry between beauty moguls Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, as well as the groundbreaking career of African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker.
Why you might like it: In addition to a trio of strong female protagonists, Rouge boasts a richly detailed depiction of the 20th-century cosmetics industry and plenty of glitz and glamour.
The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel by Jeanne MackinParis, 1938: A young American widow begins working for Elsa Schiaparelli, gaining a front row seat to the flamboyant fashion designer's long-running feud with her arch-rival, Coco Chanel.
Why you might like it: Dueling designers create iconic looks against an atmospheric pre-WWII backdrop in this well-researched historical novel.
You might also like: Meryle Secrest's biography Elsa Schiaparelli, if you're Team Schiap. If you're Team Coco, try C.W. Gortner's Madamoiselle Chanel or Gioia Diliberto's The Collection.
Deep River: A Novel by Karl MarlantesIntroducing: Ilmari, Aino, and Matti Koski, Finnish siblings who immigrate to the United States in the early 1900s and settle in Deep River, a hardscrabble logging community in the Pacific Northwest.
What happens: Brothers llmari and Matti risk life and limb in the timber industry, while sister Aino becomes a labor activist.
Author alert: Karl Marlantes' debut, Matterhorn, won the Society of American Historians Prize for his haunting depiction of the Vietnam War.
A Darker Sea: Master Commandant Putnam and the War of 1812 by James L. HaleyWhat it's about: War hero Lieutenant Bliven Putnam receives a promotion and a ship of his own, the USS Tempest, a twenty-gun brig.
Why you might like it: Written by an award-winning historian, this sequel to The Shores of Tripoli features authentic nautical details and well-researched depictions of naval warfare during the War of 1812.
For fans of: C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels and Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin books.
The Abduction of Smith and Smith: A Novel by Rashad HarrisonIntroducing: Jupiter Smith, a formerly enslaved Union Army veteran who finds work along San Francisco's waterfront as a "crimper," abducting men and pressing them into service aboard merchant ships.
Also starring: Opium-addicted Confederate solider Archer Smith, the son of the plantation owner whom Jupiter killed before heading west.
Shanghaied! Sold to a gun-smuggling ship captain bound for China, the men must work together to survive after they're marooned on an island.
Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain's Tale by Robin LloydWhat happens: In 1822, 16-year-old Ely Morgan boards a square-rigged ship bound for London to search for his missing brother.
Why you might like it: This coming-of-age story details Ely's adventures on the high seas (including squalls, mutinies, and pirate attacks) as he rises through the ranks from common sailor to sea captain.
Inspired by: the life and career of one of author Robin Lloyd's ancestors.
The North Water: A Novel by Ian McGuireWhat it's about: In 1859, the whaling vessel Volunteer sets sail for the Arctic under the command of the corrupt Captain Brownlee.
Featuring: a motley crew that includes Patrick Sumner, a former army surgeon with a laudanum habit and a trunk full of secrets, and Henry Drax, an alcoholic harpooner with a thirst for brutal violence.
Is it for you? If you like fast-paced, violent sea stories that leave you wondering who (if anyone) will survive, check out The North Water.
The Bermuda Privateer by William WestbrookWhat it is: a swashbuckling maritime adventure story perfect for fans of David Donachie, Alexander Kent, and Seth Hunter.
Starring: Nicholas Fallon, formerly of the Royal Navy and now the privateer captain of the schooner Sea Dog; and Beauty McFarland, his (female) friend and first mate.
Series alert: Captain Nicholas Fallon's adventures continue in The Black Ring.
Landfalls by Naomi J. WilliamsWhat it is: a richly detailed fictional account of the Lapérouse expedition, which sets out in 1785 to circumnavigate the globe -- and never returns.
Why you might like it: Comprised of interlinked vignettes, this meticulously researched novel unfolds from multiple perspectives that illuminate different aspects of the ill-fated expedition.
Reviewers say: This debut "conjures up the long-forgotten past" with "astonishing vividness and immediacy" (The Guardian).
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