Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Retelling
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: ARC received from publisher for review which did not influence my opinion
My rating: 5 stars
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.
Anastasia’s story is one I never knew a lot about, but had always heard little things here and there and always have been interested in reading or learning more about. So when I heard about this book from the author of Fawkes, I was extremely interested in reading it. Let me tell you what, it did not disappoint! I was hooked from the moment I picked this one up, and like the other good historical retellings I’ve read in the past, it made me want to pick up nonfiction books and do research into the actual family and times that this involved. It is nice that the author put even a little helpful extra in the back with what were the true known facts of this story, and how she added or changed to fit her own telling of the story. There was a lot of emotion, seeing how the family was treated, yet how they seemed to treat those around them made a lot of what was done to them very uncalled for. And then, just when things started to seem kind of like they had an ally or two, horrible things happened, things that I had tears myself! Then there was Zash. You wanted to love him, but had to be upset with him because of how he seemed to not ever get past his preconceived notions. But then he did, and in the end, well, I won’t spoil anything. But wow! So much at the end of this when it really evolved into the fantastical bit of the story. Of course there was magic interspersed throughout the story, but the final part was where it all really came into play.
I loved the way the Russian nesting doll, otherwise known as a matryoshka doll was used in the story. It made me want to go open up the one my sister brought me back as a souvenir from her trip to Russia a few years ago just to check it out. I look forward to putting this book in my library at school as well, and sharing it with students as they study Russia and its history.