2020 is here, y’all! It’s the dawn of a new decade, Epic Readers, and we can’t wait to see what the next year, let alone the next ten years, brings us in the world of YA.
But as we look towards the future, we can’t help but be inspired by one of our favorite eras: the Roaring 20s. From the fringe-covered flapper dresses to the vintage cars to our Leanardo DeCaprio-loving hearts, we can’t wait to see all of our favorite 1920s inspired trends come back in the new year.
And what better way to enter 2020 than by diving into and enjoying a book set in the 1920s? This list is filled with history, some magic and science fiction—and lots of good times. So here’s to you, old sport, and to 2020!
14 Books That Take Place in the 1920s
TO READ IN THE YEAR 2020
1. The Diviners by Libba Bray
This historical fantasy book is filled with paranormal goodness. Evie is a girl determined to use her power for good and to track down a killer who’s on the loose. You are going to adore this series and be thrilled that the finale, King of Crows, comes out soon!
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
2. Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson
Love a story of a girl who leaves a small town for the big city? Then you’ll love this book by the author of The Luxe series. It’s filled with backstabbing gossip and more surprises than you can count.
The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star….
Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for…and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart.
3. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is a great standalone that holds true to the original. This story is funny and romantic as Beatrice and Benedick fight to save the speakeasy.
After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.
4. Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood
This exciting standalone brings the high-flying art of wing walking into the palm of your hands. Follow Grace as she takes to the skies in hopes of being a part of the World Aviation Expo, but she just might learn there is more to life than being a daredevil.
Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.
No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.
After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.
5. Vixen by Jillian Larkin
This book is all about breaking the rules set by society. What better way to enter 2020 than by setting out into the decade on your own rules?
Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.
Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?
Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry…
6. Debutantes by Cora Harrison
Love the glitz and glamor of the New York City Roaring 20s but want a dash of royal mayhem? This series will give you that and more with a scene set in London.
It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing, and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy, and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.
Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician, and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.
But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.
7. A Tempest Soul by Oliver Phipps
This standalone is a change of pace from the glitzy city-set stories. Gina is a determined young woman with a passion for dance who won’t let anything step in her way.
Seventeen-year-old Gina Falcone has been alone for much of her life. Her father passed away while she was young. Her un-affectionate mother eventually leaves her to care for herself when she is only thirteen.
Though her epic journey begins in 1920 by an almost deadly mistake, Gina will find many of her hearts desires in the most unlikely of places. The loss of everything is the catalyst that brings her to an unimagined level of accomplishment in her life.
Yet Gina soon realizes it is the same events that brought her success that may also bring everything crashing down around her. The new life she has built soon beckons for something she left behind. Now the new woman must find a way to dance through a life she could have never dreamed of.
8. Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
One part history and two parts magic, this book is set within the scene of magicians and mediums. This dark fantasy is what historical fantasy is made for and you’ll be glad it’s a series.
Anna Van Housen has a secret.
A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.
But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?
9. A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood
Embrace Lou and her ambitions as she is set on becoming a famous writer—as a lover of books, we can’t help but support. But as she dives deep into the world of the Cardews, she may just get more than what she bargained for.
Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, seventeen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer – a handsome, dashing brother and sister – Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams.
But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions… And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?
10. The Heiresses by Allison Rushby
You’ll love these fierce and determined triplets who are set on obtaining their inheritance. This six-part series follows the girls as they fight against their brother Charles for their right to the fortune.
Three triplets–estranged since birth–are thrust together in glittering 1926 London to fight for their inheritance, only to learn they can’t trust anyone–least of all each other.
When three teenage girls, Thalia, Erato and Clio, are summoned to the excitement of fast-paced London–a frivolous, heady city full of bright young things–by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had, they are shocked to learn they are triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother’s fortune. All they need to do is find a way to claim the fortune from their greedy half-brother, Charles. But with the odds stacked against them, coming together as sisters may be harder than they think.
11. The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick
In 1928, a young girl went for a walk. When she did not come home, people began to accuse the local Jewish population of kidnapping her and using her for a blood sacrifice. While this standalone addresses the ideas of antisemitism during the 1920s, it’s an important read for today’s political discussions.
September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool’s sixteenth birthday. He’s been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn’t Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn’t Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple’s good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline. And if she isn’t on his mind, then he’s thinking about his music and imagining himself playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic. Yup, music is definitely his ticket out of this remote whistle-stop town. He doesn’t want to be stuck here one more minute. But he doesn’t realize exactly how stuck he is until Emaline’s little sister Daisy goes missing and he and his family are accused of killing her for a blood sacrifice.
12. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
The 1921 Tulsa Race Riots is a story that has barely been addressed in the last 100 years and is still not talked about. The event is both one of the worst racial violence events in U.S. history. This story is powerful as it jumps between the present and the year 1921.
Some bodies won’t stay buried. Some stories need to be told.
When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past, the present, and herself.
One hundred years earlier, a single violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.
13. Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Love Downton Abbey but want a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies twist? This hilarious story combines the upstairs/downstairs drama as seen in the historical TV show but brings some magic and mayhem the Dowager would not approve of with the threat of zombies.
1920, England. And the three teenage Clarke sisters thought what they’d wear to dinner was their biggest problem…Lady Kate, the entitled eldest. Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver. Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it’s easy to underestimate her.
Then there’s Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for—and possibly die with!—stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.
Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers! None of them ever expected to work together for any reason. But none of them had ever seen anything like this.
14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
Return to the world of Hogwarts and magic with the screenplay based on Rowling’s new film series. This historical fantasy brings all the excitement of the Harry Potter world from the past to the present as we follow Newt Scamander as he searches for Gellert Grindelwald.
When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.
Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.