Past Tense

Shakespeare in Historical Fiction

Hi historical fiction fans!

All this talk of pumpkin spice lately is making me wish summer could last just a little longer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well and truly ready to be done with the heat, but how could it possibly be time for fall? I guess I’ll just have to enjoy these last few weeks even as the rest of the world pretends it’s already pumpkin season.

Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

Woman wearing a forest green sweatshirt with white outlined text reading "Bookish"

Bookish Sweatshirt from Ladyish Creative

I love a good bookish wardrobe staple, and this one is perfect for fall which is fast approaching. $37

New Releases

The Two Tailed Snake Book Cover

The Two-Tailed Snake
by Nod Ghosh (September 14, 2023)

A girl in Northeast India is forced to quit school when her father disappears without a trace in 1945. Joya takes up work at a garment factory where she hears rumors of growing unrest and corruption. Could this have anything to do with her father’s disappearance, and what does any of it have to do with a mysterious figure called the “two-tailed snake?”

Fair Rosaline Book Cover

Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons (September 12, 2023)

A prequel to the Romeo and Juliet story that you know, Fair Rosaline follows the jilted first-love of Romeo who must watch as her thirteen-year-old cousin is taken in by the lothario’s thrall. With mere days before she’s to be sent off to a nunnery, will Rosaline be able to save her cousin from heartbreak and ruin before it’s too late?

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

From retellings to reimagined histories, Shakespeare inspires fiction in so many ways. Let’s explore a few.

Hamnet book cover

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

This fictional account of Shakespeare’s marriage and the son he and his wife lost to the plague at only 11 is not only the story of a family, a death, and a woman mostly lost to history, but also of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, a story of madness and loss written only four years after Hamnet’s death.

Desdemona Book Cover

Desdemona by Toni Morrison

In this play from the author of Beloved, the story of Othello is reimagined as a dialogue of words and music between Desdemona and her African nurse Barbary. Desdemona gives voice to the overlooked women at the heart of this Shakespeare play, and it explores the complexities of race, gender, and love, reimagining them as befits a modern audience.

That’s it for now, folks! Stay subscribed for more stories of yesteryear.

If you want to talk books, historical or otherwise, you can find me @rachelsbrittain on Instagram, Goodreads, and Litsy, my favorite bookish social media.

Right now I’m reading Terrace Story by Hilary Leichter. What about you?