ARC Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

RomanovCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Setting: 1918 Russia

 ***I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.***

*** this post contains affiliate links ***

 Review: Romanov is YA historical fantasy done right. I loved this book! Romanov by Nadine Brandes is a YA fantasy take on the historical story of the Romanov family. This book begins with the family already exiled, and how it twists and turns the history I won’t get into. No spoilers here! Told from the point of view of Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov, we are treated to a feisty heroine who knows herself and has a great love for her family and her country.

It took a bit for me to fully immerse myself into the story. I’m fascinated by Russian history and the Romanovs, and I was quite skeptical as to how Brandes was going to pull this story off. Would she go too fantastical and totally stray from history? Or would she play history totally straight and not make any authorial changes? You can tell that Brandes really dove into her research and respected the historical story. I appreciated all of the history that was put into Romanov, and while the story obviously strays due to the fantastical bits, it wasn’t too over-the-top for me and I didn’t cringe while reading the fantasy parts.

I’ve previously read and reviewed another Brandes book, Fawkes, which was a YA historical fantasy retelling of the Guy Fawkes story, and while that one had plotting and characterization issues that didn’t quite work for me, in this book I felt everything worked well together, in particular the characters. I loved that the characters were thoughtful and had great struggles. Nothing is easy for the characters in this book, but even though there are horrific things that happen, there’s still a sense of hope and kindness throughout the story. There’s sibling love, parental love, a strong male friendship, and romantic love. While this is just told from Nastya’s point of view, the other characters, particularly those of Zash, a Bolshevik soldier, and Alexei, Nastya’s younger brother who suffers from hemophilia, were fully fleshed out and compelling.

This is a book for fans of the history of the Romanovs, and while with the addition of magic and other plots, it isn’t completely historically accurate, but somehow it’s the story I wish were real. It’s a story that will bring new readers into the historical fiction genre and has reaffirmed my faith in YA. This is why I read, and I loved this book!

Bottom Line: I absolutely loved this! Love, adventure, history, magic – it’s all here and it’s wonderful!

LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***

Author Website

Does this sound like a good read? Are you a fan of Russian history? Do you enjoy fantastical historical retellings?


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