Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
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.
|Nostalgia brought me here!
If you’re anything like me then what drew you to this novel aside from the beautiful cover was the fact this story is about Anastasia. I grew up in the ’90s and Anastasia was so big that I remembered buying book covers with Bartok on it and getting him in Happy Meals.
Nostalgia aside, while this is historical fiction it also possesses magical realism that changes the course of history, and Brandes offers insight as to where she pulled inspiration from at the end of the novel.
The tone of the novel is dark, even though clever Anastasia seeks to find good and joy in every situation, focusing on what her father would expect from her. She is a rambunctious, mischievous girl who adores her family and even in their imprisonment finds ways to harness goodness.
I honestly had a pit in my stomach the entire time because I knew what happened and it is one of those stories in history that has always perplexed me and made me quite sad. Brandes did a magnificent job ensuring that the reader connected to not just one but all of the characters. You felt for the soldiers, the family, the men that were forced to partake in this ‘or else’.
It was a slower read that really didn’t pick up until the last 3/4 and those left me dizzy, but I enjoyed it.
Overall, a 4/5 savvy crowns from me. 🙂