Towards the end of last year I read Romanov by Nadine Brandes and thought that it was wonderful, and wanted to share the rest of my thoughts on the book.
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 saving herself and her family 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 has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to 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 absolutely adored this book, as it showed a deep understanding of the history around these characters but portrayed them in a way that also made them feel relatable to a modern day audience. When the story starts the characters have already been stripped of most of their wealth, so the unrelatable grandeur of their lived has gone. Instead we see a close knit family who enjoy its others’ company and want to serve their country. Whilst there is a strong theme of patriotism in this book (but it isn’t unexpected), it also shows compassion to those on the other side of this politically tumultuous time. I think that this is something that we could all do with thinking about in our modern political landscape.
Peace, quiet, and safety are all well. But community and relationships are what truly fill a person’s life.
The magic in this book is slightly confusing in how it works and what the rules are, but that is okay as the characters aren’t very knowledgeable on the subject either, so I didn’t feel left behind. I only wished that there was more time for Nastya to learn magic, as it is such a central part of the plot. I think that while this is handled well in this book, I would like a sequel to find out what happens next, and to delve deeper into the lives of Anastasia and Alexis Romanov after they survive the firing squad, after all that is where the mystery lies in their lives.
But there was still light – we were just learning how to find it.
I enjoyed how the characters in this book were allowed to act their age in accordance with what their experiences were in life. The children, while having particular areas where they were more knowledgeable than other characters, were not fountains of knowledge, and frequently looked to adults for guidance and reassurance, which was refreshing to see. Similarly the adults were not perfect people, they had problems and dealt with them in a variety of ways. You could plainly see that each character was trying to do their best with what they had, but it was nice that none of them quite hit the mark.