Nastya’s only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.
Synopsis from Amazon
I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Two things inspired my love for Grand Duchess Anastasia when I was younger: the animated movie Anastasia and the book The Royal Diaries: Anastasia. Since then, I’ve taken some Russian History courses and found other novels based on the Romanov family and have continued to find them fascinating (the Faberge eggs created for the Tsar are absolutely stunning). When I received an ARC of Romanov, I was really excited to read what Nadine Brandes would do with her story and the addition of magic!
A Fan of Alternate History
The slaughter of the Romanovs has always been one of the saddest overthrows of a monarchy in recent history. I’ve never understood the brutal way they were treated and why they were simply not evicted from the country (like the Greek royal family was). In Romanov, Brandes does an excellent job of bringing us into the prison sentence the family was forced to endure, as well as their last moments together. It was hard to read about, but also very well done. That said, I also really enjoyed that she manipulated history to give an alternate ending to Anastasia and Alexie. We now know that they were also murdered with their family and, in the ultimate cruelty, put in a separate grave from the rest of them. However, I still prefer the fantasy of imagining that Anastasia and Alexie somehow escaped and thought that Brandes did as good a job as any explaining how this would have happened.
Mix of Historical and Fictional Characters
Brandes gives us a solid mix of historical and original characters to weave a world of magic and intrigue. Previously, I hadn’t know about the soldier who fell in love with Marie, or the servants that served the Romanovs loyally until their final days and were murdered with them, or even little things like how the soldiers actually built a swing for the Grand Duchesses as a gift. Brandes brings these little moments in history to the surface and allows us to experience the joy and sadness that the family would have felt. She also did a great job including fictional characters to aid her alternate timeline. I enjoyed Zash’s story and how his relationship with Nastya developed. It felt organic and true and gave me hope that Anastasia might have been able to find happiness in the final days of her life.
Romanovs Through Rose-Tinted Glasses
I understand that the book is from Anastasia’s perspective, but I had a really hard time believing the pretty picture that Brandes gives us of the love and devotion this family felt for Rasputin and their captors. Every time Anastasia spoke about him, I got such a creepy feeling about their relationship; not because I felt there was anything horrible about it, but the adoration that Alexandra clearly had for him. People continue to study the Romanovs and debate who is too blame for their downfall, and there are no easy answers, but I was let down by how much Brandes lets them off the hook for the horrors that the Russian people were facing while the imperial family lazed their days away.
Overall, this was an interesting book but I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of Anastasia learning magic and the book felt a bit underdeveloped in some areas. That said, I think this would be a fun read for anyone interested in alternate histories with some magic thrown in!
This book comes out May 7, 2019 and I'm really excited to see it on bookshelves. I'll post again closer to the release date to remind everyone to give it a read!
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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