First of all, I just want to let everyone know that I was ecstatic when I received a copy of this book. I love the story of the Romanov family almost as much as I love the story of King Henry VIII and his 6 wives, which is a heck of a lot. And everyone knows that I love a good retelling, especially when there are some supernatural elements mixed in. And man, was this a good retelling. So good, in fact, that my meals took ages because I would forget to eat as I was reading. Oops.
Anastasia Romanov and her family have been exiled to Sibera, held as prisoners by the Bolsheviks and confined to a household with little to no freedoms. But an ancient spell might be the key to their escape, if they can only manage to sneak it past the cunning and power-hungry leader of the Bolshevik army. Anastasia must balance protecting her younger brother Alexei, who suffers from hemophilia, attempting to help her family escape, and ignoring the growing attraction between her, and a Bolshevik guard named Zash. Unfortunately, no one can balance so many plates at once. The question is, which one will she drop?
I loved the characters in this novel. Alexei was hands-down my favorite, because anytime you have a sassy, sarcastic, yet kind character, I am willing to go to the ends of the earth to make sure that everything turns out okay for them in the end. And in this case, going to the ends of the earth meant cursing at my phone every time I turned a page and was worried about his health. Despite his hemophilia, he still put in every effort to fill his role as Tsarevich and was always worried about other people, and how they were faring. Anastasia was a take-no-prisoners protagonist who just took a little bit of prodding to get there, and was absolutely fearless when it counted. I loved how devoted she was to her family, and even when the going got rough she refused to leave anyone behind. The plot was also amazing, I really felt drawn into the story, and I really wanted the characters to succeed. Sometimes even when I love the characters I am apathetic when it comes to succeeding in their quest, but that wasn't the case here.
I wasn't a huge fan of the Zash-Anastasia love plot though, if I am being completely honest. It felt a little cliché and overdone. I felt like I had read the same plot over and over again in multiple different novels, and kinda wish that it had been left out of this one. Plus, I just really didn't like Zash, because although he did represent a very important concept in the book, as a character he just seemed a little too much of a cliché love interest to do it for me.
Overall, this was an amazing book, and I would definitely recommend it for others, especially if you love the Romanov family and learning about their story. Although this is in no way an entirely factually accurate account of the Romanov family, Brandes helpfully provides a section at the book explaining what she added, and where to find more information about the actual events that occurred.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.