About Mirà Kanehl

Mira Kanehl: photo

Welcome to my corner of the literary world, where history comes alive through the pages of carefully crafted novels. I'm Mirà Kanehl, an historical fiction author and book reviewer, and I'm here to guide you through the captivating realm of historical fiction books.

Whether you're a fellow enthusiast or new to this genre, I'm thrilled to have you here.


As an author deeply passionate about history, I've dedicated my writing career to breathing life into the past. My historical fiction novels are my canvas, and with each stroke of the pen, I aim to transport readers to different eras, cultures, and adventures. Through meticulous research and a mighty touch of imagination, I craft stories that immerse you in the richness of history, from the grandeur of royal courts to the trials of ordinary people.


But my love for historical fiction doesn't stop at writing. It extends to a lifelong fascination with exploring the works of other talented authors who share this passion. As a book reviewer, I've had the privilege of delving into countless historical fiction books, and I'm excited to share my book recommendations with you.

Meet The Historical Fiction Author

I’ve always been passionate about stories, in fact I wanted to go to school only to learn this wizardry of finding a story on paper, and putting it there. My parents were delighted and began teaching me letters, and my younger sister jealous, which is why we ended up in competition. To my utter dismay, my parents decided to send me to school at seven instead of six as I was too scared of the school doctor. For some reason, I thought she was a witch. I had thought the same of our neighbor when I was young, and was terriefied of her. Not of her dog, though, he was good. So when Harry Potter was published as I started reading, I devoured it, growing with Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and made peace with witches. 


My young years were rather filled with historical fiction books after that. Anne of Green Gables, all of the Sherlock Holmes series, and later authors like Edgar Allen Poe and W. Somerset Maugham were my favourites. As I grew into a teenager and confronted themes such as freedom and responsibility, pirates fascinated me, so much that one year my English teacher, who wrote a short poem about every student, filled the verse about me with pirate anecdotes. It was a nice goodbye gift, for he had tortured us with English grammar. But I reveled in it. Without him, my English would probably not be what it is now. I’m currently working on a pirate novel, perhaps this one will be dedicated to him.


As I progressed into teenagehood I became rather spiritual, which was not far fetched, growing up in South India. I particularly enjoyed reading about yogic psychology, which is a great help now when I build characters or analyze their behavior.


Which leads me to my writing process. I don’t really create characters in that I think, oh, I might need someone like this here. Come to think of it, all my stories originate from one story I began in English class a bit after the torturing grammar teacher. She was a wild soul and spurred our creativity. We read detective stories and wrote our own, kind of like a small book club. The story I began in that class is set in France, but it was modern fiction. I thought I should write about her ancestor, you know, to practice. That’s how the Naupaka series was born. Sometimes, when I want to have visual input about the way people dressed, made their hair, or something on those lines, I research old images and paintings. That’s how I became acquainted with the wild, crazy and fun Cosma Wolfe, who turns pirate and renames herself Jezebel Medusa. In one image I saw her character, her story, a life full of adventure and piracy I could not resist, and thus the series One Virtue And A Thousand Crimes emerged.


The two series run in parallel and characters appear in both. Time is an important aspect of writing, and one I find both challenging and intriguing. Reading historical fiction is the closest we’ll get to time travel, though writing it also comes pretty close, and I want to share this joy with you.

The Book Reviews Blog

The book reviews blog came to life when I was asked what I could give my readers that is actually useful to them. I’m a very picky and detail oriented reader, and, I’ve been told, also a ruthless editor. Needless to say, I have a lot to say about writing.


Did I mention I went to uni to study English? Yea, one doesn’t learn much about writing there, but a lot of other useful things about language, and though I wasn’t able to finish my studies for monetary reasons, I did learn a lot of interesting things I now use when analyzing books for book reviews, writing, and researching.

So that’s what I can offer; detailed book reviews that really take apart the script. I try to keep them short, at about 2.2k words, with spoilers that are folded in and must be clicked to expand. With quotes to make my claims vivid, academic sources for fact checking, a summary of the most important points and FAQs at the end, I hope to give every type of reader all the information they need to see if a book is worth reading for them.

Here's a glimpse of what you can expect from my book reviews:

Thematic Analysis: Together we’ll explore the underlying themes that give historical fiction books their depth and meaning. From love and sacrifice to power and redemption, I delve into the heart of each story.

Character Portraits: We’ll meet the protagonists and antagonists who breathe life into these narratives. Discover what makes them relatable, memorable, and, at times, enigmatic.

Historical Context: I research about the historical events and settings that serve as the backdrop for each story. Together, we’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the research and attention to detail that authors bring to their work.

Writing Style: We’ll dive into the artistry of storytelling. I'll explore the prose, pacing, and narrative techniques employed by authors to craft their tales, and those they maybe didn’t intend.

Emotional Impact: We’ll uncover the emotional journey that each book takes its readers on. Whether it's laughter, tears, or a profound sense of reflection, I'll share how these stories touched my heart.

Book Reviewing Philosophy

As an avid reader I know there are different kinds of readers. Historical fiction books aren’t for everyone, some prefer phantasy, others modern writing. But genre is only one aspect of story. I want to give you all aspects, so that every reader who reads my book reviews will go away knowing whether the book is a good fit for them or not.


Also, I only review books I managed reading. I’m very picky and if a story’s prose is meagre, I won’t read the book. Which means that all books on this reviews blog are books which convinced me, in the first chapters, that they are worth reading. They are the type of book I enjoy reading, and my writing is as unique as my reading (as it is for everyone). Therefore, if you enjoy the books from my book review blog, you might also enjoy the books I write. My criterias include the following.

Well Crafted Prose

Well crafted prose is not only writing that has been ferociously edited to remove unneccessary obstacles. It is prose in which one idea seamlessly flows into the next (superstructure), one sentence leads to the next to the extent that none can be left out, sentence structure that is not only grammatical but where ideas are placed logically with regard to impact and meaning, and word choice which reflects character. Phonology that mirrors the desired mood is icing on the cake.

Gripping Promise of Story

Many historical fiction books written as modern fiction in their time begin with long introductions. Most modern stories begin with action. Editor’s advice has become to start a story res midi, in the midst of action, and, if explanation is needed, expand on it afterwards. The beginning must grip the modern, stimuli-overwhelmed reader. But more than that it must give the reader the inscentive to continue reading, the beginning must give a promise that this action leads to an experience worth the time, which has become a rare good. This is something I look for in books, but not without respect for temporal circumstances under which a book was written.


But not all readers, myself included, mind a longer introduction. Despite their length, some are gems, and even if a book begins rather slow, authors back in the day didn’t self publish with a click on Amazon. Their manuscripts were read by at least one editor, and a publisher had much to lose from publishing bad stories. I take this into account in my book reviews and weigh in all aspects.

An Engaging Story Arc

The promise of a good story must be fulfilled. Story arc renders the elements of a story palatable. If put together in a clumsy way, many pitfalls await. The story drags, has no build up, or the climax comes too soon, with too much happening after the quest is over, or the story ends before it’s finished. And more. We don’t want to read that. We want a story that has a promising beginning, that draws one in as the protagonist irretrievably faces a difficulty he must conquer, which leads him to the big part in te middle of the plot, where he experiences and learns, and leads him to the climax, the big battle against his difficulty, to end with success or defeat.


Story arcs come natural to us, for our brains are wired for them from a very early age. But authors face the difficulty of being amidst their characters, who don’t see it. It’s difficult to gain an objective perspective, which is why some stories lack in that regard. Because sotry arc has a lot to do with reader’s satisfaction after reading a book, I weigh it in heavily in my book reviews.

Featured Historical Fiction Genres

Historical fiction as a genre offers numerous sub-genres, such as


- Historical fantasy,

- Historical mysteries and thrillers,

- Historical series and epics,

- Historical nautical and pirate fiction,

- Historical romance,

- Historical documentary fiction,

- Alternate history,

- Biographical historical fiction,

- Historical adventures, and

- Historical family saga.


In this book reviews blog I touch on all subgenres, and also include time travel and detective stories. 

Exploring Themes in Historical Fiction

Historical fiction offers a wide range of themes, many of them are universal. Common themes include:


Love and Romance: Romantic relationships set against the backdrop of historical events or settings are a common theme in historical fiction. Some examples are “Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon, and "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah.


War and Conflict: Many historical novels explore the impact of wars, revolutions, and conflicts on individuals and society, such as “All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque, "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak, or "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell.


Social Class and Inequality: Authors often delve into the disparities and divisions within historical societies, highlighting the struggles of those from different social classes. "Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo, "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, and "The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton show how the classes impacted people of their historical time.


Identity and Belonging: Characters may grapple with questions of identity, especially when they are caught between different cultures, eras, or social groups. Books like “The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri, "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill, and "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller touch upon this subject.


Family and Relationships: Family dynamics, generational conflicts, and interpersonal relationships are frequently explored in historical fiction, for example in books like “East of Eden" by John Steinbeck, "The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough, or "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman.


Politics and Power: Novels in this genre often delve into the political intrigues and power struggles of the past. "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel, "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, and "Lincoln" by Gore Vidal contain this theme.


Historical Events: Some historical fiction focuses on specific historical events, such as the sinking of the Titanic, the American Civil War, or the French Revolution. Some examples are "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens (French Revolution), "Titanic" by James Cameron (inspired by the sinking of the Titanic), and "Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara (American Civil War).


Time Travel and Alternate History: Some historical fiction incorporates elements of time travel or explores alternate histories, where key events unfold differently. Stephen King’s “11/22/63”, “The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick, and "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger contain this theme.


Cultural and Social Change: Authors may use historical fiction to examine how societies have evolved over time, including shifts in cultural norms and values. Historical fiction books with this theme include "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Roaring Twenties), "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan (Chinese-American immigrant experience), and "The Swans of Fifth Avenue" by Melanie Benjamin (1950s high society).


Survival and Resilience: Characters may face challenges such as natural disasters, plagues, or other crises, highlighting human resilience and the will to survive. Books with this theme include “The Revenant" by Michael Punke, "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand, and "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel.


Exploration and Adventure: Historical fiction often features adventurous journeys, exploration of new lands, or quests, such as “The Terror" by Dan Simmons (Arctic exploration), "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad (African Congo), and "In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick (whaling).


Mystery and Intrigue: Mysteries and detective stories set in historical periods add an element of suspense and intrigue to the genre. Examples include "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco, "Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood, and "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr.


Religion and Faith: Themes of faith, religious conflicts, and spirituality are explored in historical novels such as "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant, and "Quo Vadis" by Henryk Sienkiewicz.


Injustice and Rebellion: Some historical fiction deals with themes of oppression, injustice, and the fight for freedom and equality. Suzanne Collins incorporates this in her "The Hunger Games”, and "The Bastard of Istanbul" by Elif Shafak and "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck are other examples for this theme.


Art and Culture: The world of art, music, literature, and cultural movements of the past can serve as a backdrop for historical fiction. Art and culture theme in "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier, "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain (the expatriate community in 1920s Paris), and "The Muse" by Jessie Burton (artistic world in 1930s Spain and 1960s London).

Historical Accuracy in Fiction

Achieving historical accuracy is complicated because the past is often shrouded in ambiguity, and primary source materials may be incomplete, biased, or subject to interpretation. Historians themselves may have differing views on events and figures, which can make it challenging for authors to determine what is truly accurate. Additionally, historical context and cultural nuances can be difficult to fully capture, especially when an author is writing about a time or place vastly different from their own.


Authors typically rely on historical documents, diaries, letters, newspaper archives, academic research, and even oral histories. Libraries and archives are invaluable resources for accessing primary materials, while the internet provides access to a wealth of digitized historical records and scholarly articles. Museums, historical societies, and experts in specific fields can also offer valuable insights.


However, it's important to recognize that not all sources are equally reliable. Bias, inaccuracies, or omissions can be present in primary sources, and even secondary sources like history books may contain errors or interpretive biases. Authors must carefully cross-reference and critically assess their sources to ensure accuracy.


Balancing historical facts with storytelling in a commercial context can be a formidable task. While historical accuracy is essential to create a believable and immersive world, too much focus on details can detract from the narrative's flow and engagement. Authors often face the challenge of blending historical facts seamlessly into their stories without overwhelming readers with historical exposition. Striking this balance requires skill and a deep understanding of the time period and characters.


In my book reviews I do consider historical accuracy but also take into account the story arc and prose. Though it may, historical fiction is not made to teach us about the past: it’s primary goal is entertainment.

Join the Bookish Community: Connecting with Fellow Bibliophiles

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