BY: Nadine Brandes
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
PUBLICATION: May 7th 2019 by Thomas Nelson
RATING: 3 Stars
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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.
I’m not that familiar with Russian history but I have heard of Anastasia Romanov and I really want to read a book about her. That’s the first reason why I requested this the moment I saw it on Netgalley. Second, God I love the cover. It really is so beautiful and gorgeous. Just so pretty.
(Please note that I am talking about the fictional book I read, not the real history. I will never comment on a history I’m not familiar with.)
Anyway, let’s get on with stuff that matters more in the book. First, the plot. I believe this is a Historical Fiction and I’m all for it. Like I said, I’m not really that familiar with the history where it’s based, so I really enjoyed navigating through the Romanov’s life even though, yes, they’re not experiencing good things. In fact, they experienced such horrible things, my heart really goes for them. The author did succeed at making this an emotional read. But, sadly, the ‘Fantasy’ side of the story ruins it for me. I don’t mind reading a Historical Fantasy but in this case, it seemed like the author couldn’t decide if the story should be Historical Fiction or you know, just a fantasy. It’s because the Fantasy element, ‘the magic’, seemed forcedly included. Maybe it’s just me but the focus of the plot is just too conflicting. There are times that I felt like two separate things are going on in the book. The romance too, it seemed out-of-place. I would’ve been okay without it and settle for friendship.
The Characters are OK. I don’t really have any major problem with them. I like the consistency of the characters. Especially Nastya, her loyalty to her people and family and her playful antics. Her antics added some light, fun element in the storyline. I love that. Though I have one little issue about the characters. Actually more like about the narration. This is written in the first POV, with Nastya as the narrator, and maybe that’s why she can’t help but say good things about the Romanov. Like I said, I AM NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE REAL HISTORY AND COMMENTING ABOUT THE FICTIONAL THAT I’VE READ. Nastya, in her narration, portrayed the Romanovs as perfect, humble, kind people. They’re without any blemish and I find that too pretentious. The thing is this is fiction, so maybe at least give these characters something humane. Their sufferings are humane, yes, but their personalities? Nope, they’re perfect.
The thing is the author made the Bolsheviks as human as possible. Nastya would say something like, they’re Bolsheviks and it’s not their fault that they’re in the other side of the fight. They fight for what they believe. I hope the story gave the Romanovs a little personality flaw the same way a good thing was given to the Bolsheviks.
Lastly, the writing. Too many metaphors and simile. I swear, it’s like every other sentence is a figure of speech. In some way, I’m amazed by the author coming up with plenty of metaphors and similes with but using all of them in one book is a bit too much.
Overall, this book is a solid 3-star for me. I know it seemed like I have a lot of problems with it. I do but if you look closely, I liked every element of the book, only I also found something to dislike in each of those elements. So 3 stars is fair. If you like Historical fiction with a bit of magic, this book is for you.
Have you read or heard this book before? What do you think of it? Is it on your TBR? Tell me in the comments or if you’ve reviewed this book, share the links below. Let’s Chat.