Book Review: “Romanov”

“Romanov” by Nadine Brandes

Source: ARC in exchange for honest review

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy


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 love, love, love historical fiction mixed with fantasy. It’s fun to imagine what might have taken place if there had simply been more magic in the world. Likewise, I’ve been intrigued with Anastasia since I saw the animated movie as a child. You can see what I was excited to pick this up!

I loved the relationships between Nastya and her family. It’s wonderful to see a family who would do anything for each other. Far too often we see terrible parents and siblings in YA books.

It was great for me to learn a little piece of history that I’m not as familiar with. The story follows the real event of the family being moved from Tobolsk to Ekateringburg and what happens afterwards. I wish there had been more set up for readers who don’t know history. I would have loved more information about why Nikolai was forced to abdicate and who the White Army was. Sure, the reader could do some research before jumping into a story. It would just be nice if the story included some of the details though.

The magic was magical. It was great that it was only there in small doses. Nastya can’t really do magic so she must rely on other ways to save her family. That keeps the story moving along nicely. It also helps keep the story fairly grounded as a historical fiction (heavy emphasis on fiction).

Romanov is a young adult book so naturally there is some romance in the story. Thankfully, both romances are well done. They don’t overwhelm the story and don’t feel forced. You can see how they evolved and keep a slow burn going.

The story isn’t historically accurate but it’s an interesting take on what might have happened.


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