Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, death, attempted suicide)
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Synopsis: The history books say I died.
They don’t know the half of it.
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her 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.
Review: So for the most part I really liked this book. I loved Nadine’s take on the Romanov’s story and how the book is so heavy in history. I already knew the history of their last days, but this book made it feel more personal and real. The plot was intriguing and the writing was well done. The characters were all well developed and I loved the magic in this book.
However, I did have some issues with the book. I don’t agree with how Rasputin was shown. From my research and knowledge of Rasputin I believe him to be… incredibly creepy and I can see evidence of where he might have been inappropriate of the kids. While his visits have been regarded as innocent, I find it creepy that a grown man would go into a nursery while the four girls were in their nightgowns (which were the equivalent of underwear in this time). I’ve just always had this weird feeling that there was more to the story than what was released and since the Romanovs were incredibly secretive it’s not hard to believe that there might have been more to the story. I worked with kids and have seen them in awful situations, the things that would give you nightmares. Second, I didn’t like the romance. It felt a little forced and off. Third, I didn’t like how the magic system wasn’t fully explained. It seemed to have really cool rules and I would have loved to see it more in the book and have it fully explained. It seemed that things happened at whims. And fourth, the book was a recap of the Romanov’s time in captivity until after halfway through the book. The main focus of Anastasia’s story is after the murders, but that didn’t happen until about 53% in the book. While the book was great and I liked it, I wish that more of the story focused on after the murders, because then the rest of the book felt really fast paced and confusing.
Verdict: A great fantasy retelling of Anastasia that any fan would appreciate.