This was definitely the type of Anastasia retelling I have been waiting for!
I already knew I’d love this book before I picked it up, I mean pfft have you seen Fawkes which is a magical Guy Fawkes retelling that exploded into my life and I am still thinking about a year later?!? Exactly. Nadine Brandes does the best HF retellings…but adds in magic and heartbreak and endings that cut deep. But her books are always tinged with hope and I love that balance. Love it.
*:·ﾟ✧ THE STORY IT TOLD *:·ﾟ✧
If you know the history of the Romanovs, then you know…this isn’t a light fluffy story. It gut-wrenching. The book picks up when the Romanov family are in exile, banished to a house where they need permission to even open a window. It’s basically a waiting game: will they get a fair trial OR will they be executed. The plot isn’t an action-adventure…we feel trapped and stagnate with Nastya. We feel the dread and the thin hope of them wishing the elusive White Army will save them. I would’ve liked to have seen them in their palace life though?! Especially this version of Rasputin. I wanna prequel. 🤗
*:·ﾟ✧ MAGIC *:·ﾟ✧
ok something I love about Brandes’ novels is how she weaves magic in so flawlessly you kind of forget…history…didn’t have magic… Like what do you mean to tell me it didn’t? SURELY IT DID. Her magic systems are convincing and intriguing. We have spell ink here — you write spells with special ink and it sinks into your skin. Only if you know the words. 10/10 to this concept. With Rasputin dead, Nastya is the only one who can do a little magic (she desperately wants to learn to be a full spellmaster) and she can give Alexei a little relief from his illness with spells. But the ending goes deeeeeep into the magic side and it’s phenomenal, clever, and heart-stopping.
*:·ﾟ✧ | CHARACTERS | *:·ﾟ✧
👑 Nastya owns this story and she is determined to hold onto her life with the fierceness of someone who refuses to believe the world is dark and hopeless. What an optimist! (CAN’T RELATE.) She’s a mischief-maker and a sweetheart and she refuses to be beaten down, emotionally or spiritually. I do love her (she does read as quite young, but I think that was to contrast the direness of their situation).
👑 I loved Alexei too! There are a few older Romanov sisters but they’re not really focused in the story. Alexei, however, is FAB. He is 13 and has haemophilia and he’s so, so sick. He spends a lot of the book in a wheelchair too. While I can’t speak of any personal experience with his disability/illness, I do have a disability too and I feel like this rep was done with such love and care! Making !!! me so !!! happy !! Also he’s a sassy little spitfire and I nearly choked laughing when he interrupted Nastya and Zash just as they were having a Moment™. (He also shipped them so loudly, so like 😂Alexei is adorable.)
👑 Now Zash is a scowling troubled soldier-boy and…the love interest. He’s one of the guards of the Romanov family, and I didn’t exactly love him? But I think the book did a good job at developing his backstory + giving him a decent arc. I kinda wish it had been from his POV too!!! I do like that the book isn’t a whirlwind romance. It’s a tentative attraction, followed by promises for the future. Which is good because captor/captee romances need to be done veeeery carefully.
ALSO THERE WAS A DOG AND I LOVE THE DOG AND I PANICKED OVER THE DOG BUT ALL IS WELL WITH THE DOG. 🙏🏻
*:·ﾟ✧ OVERALL *:·ﾟ✧
It’s one of those book that balances such darkness with the light. It holds a quiet but sinister plot line, full of cruel intentions and unfair circumstances. And while it does follow history a lot (so you will get your heart smashed) it takes spins and twists you don’t expect. I loved that about it (brb sobbing tho). Nastya also explores a heavy theme of forgiveness: when to give it and when to hold back. While I’m not big on forgiving evil, I did appreciate how Nastya was so soft and yet so strong with her choices. Afdsjakld she is a gem.
…so you need this. It’s ANASTASIA!!! And it is magical, powerful, and thoughtful.
thank you to the author + Thomas Nelson Publishers for the ARC
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | Booktopia |★★★★★
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.
| WHAT DO YOU THINK |
what’s a historical story you’d like to see retold with magic?? and do you love the Anastasia movie? is this one on your TBR?