Author: Nadine Brandes
Published: May 7th 2019 by Thomas Nelson
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retelling
Pages: 352 pages
Goodreads Rating: 3.86 out of 5
“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.”
Growing up Anastasia was one of my absolute favorite Disney movies. I’ve always loved history and I hold a small fascination with monarchies of all types. Family lines, the drama, the glitz, and the glamour, all of it is just very intriguing to me. When I heard Brandes was putting out a new book retelling the story of the Romanov family and their last days, it was immediately pre-ordered.
“The bond of our hearts….
…..spans miles, memory, and time”
To start, this book is listed as a historical fiction and while the story of the Romanov family is true, I wouldn’t go as far to classify this as historical fiction. Does it have some historical facts, yes. Is it based on an actual event, also yes. But given the whole premise of magic and the extra level of fantasy I wouldn’t give this a HF title. With that said, as long as your not expecting a true history book, you’ll probably love this book.
The writing in the book is awesome, and I really enjoyed the ‘family oriented’ aspected involved within the story line. But the book is told through the lens of a teenager and thus has a more youthful tone. Which really is on target with the way YA books read.
The extra magic element into the story line was a fun touch. The what-if of Anastaia surviving the entire ordeal due to works of ‘spell magic’ was just a fun touch that emphasized the YA feeling of the story for me. I would have liked to see more in-depth information around how the magic worked and why it worked, but overall the magic level was adequate and different.
The world build was fantastic, I felt I really got a good sense of where the characters were and their mental state. For the most part the character building was good too, however I wish we would have gotten a little bit more of a back story on Zash. He plays a pretty pivotal role within the story line but we really don’t learn anything about him until the last couple pages of the book.
The last bit that I really found interesting in the book is the amount of emphazies on forgiveness and learning to forgive others for what they have done to you. I forget sometimes that books are meant to teach as much as entertain, and I think this one really reminded me and hopefully others what it is to forgive.
“I realized that a part of forgiveness was accepting the things someone had done- and the pain that came with that – and moving on with love. Forgiveness was a personal battle that must always be fought in my heart. Daily.”
All in all I’d recommend this book if you enjoy YA fantasy books or even fairy tell retellings. ★★★★☆ for me. Reminder that this one isn’t meant to be a true historical book and that Brandes even tells you at the end of the book what she embellished. I also find it hard to believe that Rasputin was anything but terrible, but then again what do I know. Get it HERE!
What are some of your favorite fairy tale retellings?