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5 Books like National Treasure: History, Mystery and… Shh, Secrets

Jane Howarth itcherHave you read the novelisation ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’ or the spin-offs that take us back through the Gates family’s riddle-solving ancestry? ‘Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer’ and ‘The Book of Blood and Shadow’ are just two of the books like ‘National Treasure’ you’ve got to pick up. ~ Jane Howarth

Templar Treasures and Colonial Codebreaking

Seen the ‘National Treasure’ movies or read the ‘Gates Family Mysteries’ book series? Make one of these all-American adventures and international mysteries the next stop on your historical journey!

And in the true spirit of books like ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’ and the rest of the spin-offs, these are all brilliant YA reads that adults can happily pick up as well. Because who doesn’t love a good historically-tinged conspiracy?


Books Similar to ‘National Treasure’…

‘The Secret Breakers 1: The Power of Three’ (H. L. Dennis, 2012)

Image Source: scholastic

Black Chambers make codes. And break codes. Codes that contain secrets…

Puzzle-loving Brodie is asked to join a covert codebreaking team to take on an old and thus far unsolvable challenge, with her invitation arriving in the form of – what else? A coded message.

But just as the quote tells us, there are secrets held within codes, and some of those secrets are deadly.

Sounds good, right?

Similarity Match: 90%
Centuries-old codes make irresistible reading for ‘National Treasure’ fans, with a bigger emphasis on puzzle solving than Founding Fathers.

‘The History Keepers: The Storm Begins’ (Damian Dibben, 2011)

Image Source: blogspot

In its centre was an intricate design: a symbol of an hourglass with two planets whizzing around it…

Jake’s family belong to a secret society that’s even more mysterious than most – its members can travel in time.

Before he knows which way is up, he’s being whisked away from rain-battered London and into an international (and inter-century) chase.

Similarity Match: 85%
Secret societies, symbols and – ok, ‘National Treasure’ doesn’t involve actual time travel, but with its love of history it’s half way there.

‘Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer’ (Rick Riordan, 2015)

Image Source: contentreserve

You’re sixteen today, aren’t you? They’ll be coming to kill you…

‘Percy Jackson’ and ‘Kane Chronicles’ creator Rick Riordan has just launched a new, Norse-inspired series, which is great news, because we can get all excited about the fresh instalments to come.

The downside is that we’ll be on the edge of our seats until then. Sorry, guys.

‘Magnus Chase’ follows a homeless Bostonian kid who finds out that his estranged family’s love of Viking mythology is more than just an academic interest. Life on the streets was hard, but learning to live as the son of a Norse god presents challenges of its own.

Similarity Match: 80%
There’s a mythological twist to this mystery adventure, ‘Percy Jackson’ style. ‘National Treasure’ addicts will love the fast pace and heritage side though.

‘The Book of Blood and Shadow’ (Robin Wasserman, 2012)

Image Source: images-amazon

I will not tell you of our journey. We have survived, that is all you need to know…

For slightly older readers, ‘The Book of Blood and Shadow’ is an enticing secret society-themed mystery adventure that starts with a Latin book.

A sudden, bloody murder makes our heroine the only person willing to find out the truth, and soon she’s off to Prague on the trail of the mysterious Lumen Dei.

The writing style is somewhere between the ‘National Treasure’ books and contemporary YA lit, and the mystery is good and historical. A bit of everything, really.

Similarity Match: 75%
The romance plot threatens to take over at times, and there are some scary bits – but if you don’t mind your conspiracies with a bit of love and blood, you’ll be absolutely fine.


If You Like ‘National Treasure’, You Will Like…

A book like ‘National Treasure’ doesn’t necessarily need to follow a modern day adventurer on a puzzle-solving quest. The spin-off novels each follow a different member of the Gates family, picking up the story at a key moment in American history.

Love following those olden-days heroes and heroines who find themselves with a tricky situation to resolve? Then maybe it’s worth dusting off this classic.

‘Johnny Tremain’ (Esther Forbes, 1943)

Image Source: abebooks

‘Someday,’ said Johnny… ‘I’ll kill you, Dove. In the meantime, you have your uses…’

Coming out at the height of WWII, ‘Johnny Tremain’ transports us back to 1773 for a war of a different kind, the American Revolution.

There’s a fair bit of scene-setting first as we find out what life’s like for an apprentice in New England. But then, the ‘National Treasure’ books also like to set up a bit of normal life before spiralling into an adventure, so you’ll feel right at home.

One warning, though.

I love a good cup of tea, so the Boston setting holds a distressing moment in store for me. You too? Then steel yourself for a lot of good brews going to waste.

Instead of solving a mystery from across the centuries, we’re thrown right into the Revolutionary action.


And a Few Final Clues

Wait, wait! Hold on, before you rush off on your next historical adventure, let’s give a quick shout out to ‘The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones’ (Rick Riordan, 2008). If you’re looking for a worldwide scavenger hunt, historical riddles and secret societies… well, the ‘39 Clues’ series ticks all the boxes.

I feel a little bit weird about this one, because with a strong emphasis on the collectible card and online game tie-ins, I can’t help thinking it’s a literary ‘Skylanders’. But should that really affect the way we see the books?

After all, each one’s written by a respected author and there’s loads of adventure in each volume, so the final decision? I’ll leave that down to you.

Now over to you – is there another book like ‘National Treasure’ you would recommend?

Head to the comments and tell us which treasure hunts and historical adventures we need to read next!

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